Unlocking Histories of State Formation, Community, and Policy through Diplomatic Records

Endorsed by SHFG and WHA

Thursday, March 30, 2023, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Type: Roundtable Discussion

Tags: Immigration and Internal Migration; International Relations; Nationalism and Transnationalism


Roundtable participants will explain how diplomatic records from consulates and the Puerto Rican Department of Labor's Migration Division reveal not only the complexity of migration policy and state formation, but how these processes intersect with race, class, gender, and migration. These records demonstrate how foreign dignitaries and their compatriots negotiated the boundaries of nations, how diplomats are key interlocutors for the movement of ideas, capital, and people, and reveal regional differences in the United States. Participants will also discuss processes of state-making that broaden national sovereignty and incorporate non-state actors into political processes.

Session Participants

Chair: S. Deborah Kang, University of Virginia
S. Deborah Kang is an associate professor in the Corcoran Department of History and a member of the Faculty Advisory Committee of the Democracy Initiative at the University of Virginia. Her research focuses on both the historical and contemporary aspects of US immigration and border policy. Her first book, The INS on the Line: Making Immigration Law on the US-Mexico Border, 1917-1954 (Oxford University Press, 2017) traces the history of US immigration agencies on the US-Mexico border and earned six awards and accolades. Her second book is a history of US immigration legalization policies from the early twentieth century to the present. Kang also serves as a consultant to several federal public defender offices throughout the country, preparing research briefs on the racial animus that informed the passage of the laws criminalizing undocumented immigration.

Panelist: Torrie Hester, Saint Louis University
Torrie Hester is an associate professor in the Department of History at Saint Louis University. Her Ph.D. is from the University of Oregon. Her book, Deportation: Origins of U.S. Policy, (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017) examines the national and international origins of U.S. deportation policy between 1875 and 1924. She has published on more contemporary deportations in places such as The Washington Post and The Journal of American History. She is at work on her second book project, which is currently titled Protecting Immigrants before Human Rights Law: International Law and Migration, 1840-1940.

Panelist: Carolina Ortega, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
Carolina Ortega is an Assistant Professor of History at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Latinx, immigration, and labor history. She received her PhD in History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her current project, The Sending State: How the Mexican State of Guanajuato Shaped Twentieth Century U.S. Migration, is a multi-sided history that forces us to recalibrate our understanding of the sustained cycles of Mexican migration by examining migratory journeys that have rarely been the object of scholarly study or popular discourse. The Sending State examines both ends of the migration pathway and it highlights not just the migrants who left Mexico, but also those who returned, those who traveled back and forth, and those left behind.

Panelist: Maria L. Quintana, San Francisco State University
Maria L. Quintana is an Assistant Professor in the History Department at Sacramento State University. Her book project, Contracting Freedom: Race, Empire, and U.S. Labor Importation Programs, 1942-1964, will be released by University of Pennsylvania Press in May 2022. The book interprets guestworker labor importation and the Bracero Program through a transnational and global history of labor rights and the U.S. empire. It investigates these government-sponsored programs as the unexplored consequence of the history of enslaved labor, Japanese American incarceration, the New Deal, the long Civil Rights Movement, and Caribbean de-colonization. In doing so, it advances an interpretation of guestworker programs that moves beyond U.S. borders and U.S.-Mexico relations to understand and underscore their imperial roots and effects. Dr. Quintana received her Ph.D. From the University of Washington in 2016, after which she was a postdoctoral researcher at Yale University’s Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration. Her primary research and teaching interests include U.S. and Latin American History, Race and Empire, Latinx Studies, Labor Studies, Civil Rights and Labor History, and Immigration History.

Panelist: Bryan Winston, Dartmouth College
Bryan Winston is the postdoctoral fellow for the Dartmouth Digital History Initiative and Lecturer in the Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies Program at Dartmouth College. Winston’s current book project is a transnational account and analysis of ethnic Mexican life in Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska during the first half of the twentieth century. Complementing the monograph in progress is a digital history project titled “Mapping the Mexican Midwest,” that visualizes Mexican migration routes, institutions, and social networks in the region. As postdoctoral fellow and project manager for the Dartmouth Digital History Initiative, Winston works with a team of historians, librarians, students, and developers to create open-source tools that make oral histories more searchable and accessible.