Interests: Twentieth-century US, Latino/x, immigration, race, labor, gender, food,
oral history, US-Mexico borderlands
My research and writing focuses on Latino/x life, labor, and politics in the United States from the post-WWII era to the present day. My first book Grounds for Dreaming: Mexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants, and the California Farmworker Movement (Yale University Press, 2016) examined the working and social relationships between Mexican Americans, braceros, and undocumented workers in the agricultural empire of California's Salinas Valley, and told the story of how a diverse farmworker community fought for its labor rights against powerful agribusiness interests.
I am also the co-editor of the new revised edition of The Academic's Handbook (Duke University Press, 2020). This anthology is full of wise, accessible essays about navigating academia from a diverse array of scholars across disciplines and career stages/paths.
My current book project Starved for Respect examines the labor and lives of Latinx food workers in the US Northeast from the 1940s to the present day. From agricultural fields to processing factories to restaurants to street vending, Latinx people have historically and currently powered the US food industry in ways that often go unacknowledged. In the process, they have also changed the culinary landscape of the country through their entrepreneurship and creativity. My book--which traverses the Northeast from rural Pennsylvania to the rocky coasts of Maine--will advance our historical understanding of how the permeation of Latinx cuisine throughout the U.S. has intersected (or not) with the acceptance and inclusion of actual Latinx people. When has food allowed Latinx people to achieve upward mobility, social acceptance, and political change in the United States? By contrast, where and when has Latinx cuisine been embraced (but Latinx people have not) because of racial or xenophobic backlash? This book explicitly connects the histories of Latinx food, labor, and migration to produce a more comprehensive narrative about how Americans have responded to all three during times of war, labor union struggles, globalization, militarization of borders, and the current COVID-19 pandemic.
To augment my book research, I have created The Mexican Restaurants of NYC StoryMap to provide a digital history of how Mexican food spread throughout New York City's boroughs.
Beginning July 2022, I will be the new Director of Stony Brook's Latin/x American and Caribbean Studies Center and Program. LACS serves as a social hub for students and faculty, and provides an academic community that features speakers, internships, scholarships and research grants, and an undergraduate Minor degree.
I'm excited to train undergraduate and graduate students interested in Latinx history as well as the general topics of race and migration in the US, labor and working class history, women's and gender history, civil rights and protest movements, oral history, the American West and the US-Mexico border region, and global borderlands history.