We have the most incredible news to share today! Our very own Dr. Nicole Guidotti-Hernández has been awarded the prestigious Modern Language Association Prize in United States Latina and Latino and Chicana and Chicano Literary and Cultural Studies for her book Unspeakable Violence: Remapping U.S. and Mexican National Imaginaries (Duke University Press, 2011). Dr. Guidotti-Hernández is an Associate Professor of American Studies and Associate Director of the Center for Mexican American Studies here at UT Austin.
Unspeakable Violence addresses the epistemic and physical violence inflicted on racialized and gendered subjects in the U.S.–Mexico borderlands from the mid-nineteenth century through the early twentieth. Arguing that this violence was fundamental to U.S., Mexican, and Chicana/o nationalisms, Nicole M. Guidotti-Hernández examines the lynching of a Mexican woman in California in 1851, the Camp Grant Indian Massacre of 1871, the racism evident in the work of the anthropologist Jovita González, and the attempted genocide, between 1876 and 1907, of the Yaqui Indians in the Arizona–Sonora borderlands. Guidotti-Hernández shows that these events have been told and retold in ways that have produced particular versions of nationhood and effaced other issues. Scrutinizing stories of victimization and resistance, and celebratory narratives of mestizaje and hybridity in Chicana/o, Latina/o, and borderlands studies, she contends that by not acknowledging the racialized violence perpetrated by Mexicans, Chicanas/os, and indigenous peoples, as well as Anglos, narratives of mestizaje and resistance inadvertently privilege certain brown bodies over others. Unspeakable Violence calls for a new, transnational feminist approach to violence, gender, sexuality, race, and citizenship in the borderlands.
Way to go, Dr. Guidotti-Hernández!
Painting by Carlos Loarca
We return today to one of our favorite blog series: 5 questions with members of the American Studies core and affiliate faculties. Below, we feature a conversation with Dr. Cary Cordova, assistant professor of American Studies and graduate of our program (Ph.D. 2005).
What has been your favorite project to work on and why?
I would turn to the projects that have helped me work with people, the projects in which I am engaging with others, whether it is students or other colleagues or professionals out in the world; these projects have probably netted me the most personal satisfaction. Specifically, i am drawn to doing oral history. When I initially approached oral history, I viewed it as a way to source information, as a way to get data that otherwise wasn’t available. But then in doing interviews, I learned a lot more about myself and about other people, and oral history became a significant amplification of my education, it became a way of expanding my universe well beyond the world that I thought I was in. For instance, one of the artists I interviewed passed away, and I went to his funeral, and it was striking to see the numbers of people that were there. And I did not expect this, but his family had decided to play the interview that I had recorded with him there at the funeral for everyone to hear, and it was so moving and so powerful to suddenly have everyone in that room listening to an interview that had just been me and him, and it helped me see the ways in which the work I was doing had a greater relevance than just me and him sitting in that room.
How do you see your work fitting in with broader conversations in academia and contemporary society?
Academically, it’s pretty easy to see where I have come to be, because it has been pretty consistent. I have always been trying to negotiate this world between American Studies and Latino Studies, and I came to graduate school specifically to study Latina literature. I didn’t end up focusing on Latina literature, but disciplinarily that has been a continuous framework. Then through graduate school and a lot of other things I came to realize I was doing a lot with Art History and with Urban Studies, but those are just the disciplines, and per my previous answer, my academic engagement has always been tied to thinking about others and thinking about my community and thinking about people that make the world matter to me.