Mar. 3: Reckoning with 100 Years of Violence on the US/Mexico Border: Methods for Developing a Public Dialogue

WHEN: Thursday, March 3, 2016, 6 - 8 PM

WHERE: Knox Hall, 606 W. 122nd Street, Room 509

From 1910 to 1920, vigilantes, U.S. soldiers, and Texas Rangers killed thousands of innocent Mexicans in one of the least remembered, and yet largest episodes of racial violence and civil unrest in American history. The centennial of this peak of violence is upon us. Monica Muñoz Martinez is joining scholars, Texas residents, museums, and cultural institutions that are making efforts to commemorate state sanctioned violence in Texas. One major obstacle standing in the way of reckoning with the past is the official denial of past abuses and the disavowal of loss. Oral histories provide access to vernacular histories that shed light on the long histories of state sanctioned violence. What are the best methods for making these oral histories available and accessible to the public and shifting popular understandings of the past? Join Martinez to discuss the challenges of reckoning with the past and the importance of using oral histories to inspire innovative research methods.

Monica Muñoz Martinez received her PhD from the American Studies Program at Yale University. While at Yale she co-founded the Public Humanities Initiative in American Studies. Her work to institutionalize this initiative came from an investment as a Latina historian in bridging divides between academic and public centers of knowledge. In 2014 Martinez joined the faculty as assistant professor of American Studies and Ethnic Studies at Brown University. She offers courses in US Race Relations, Ethnic Studies, Women and Gender Studies, and the Public Humanities. Her current research project addresses the intersecting nature of racial and gender violence in the twentieth century, particularly its impact on communities in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. She documents residents that preserve vernacular histories as a means for refusing mainstream histories that disavow colonial violence of the early twentieth century. In particular, she examines residents that reckon with lingering sentiments of loss that continue to impact social relations. This year she is a Public Humanities Fellow at the John Nicholas Brown Center for the Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage. Her research received funding from the Mellon Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson National Foundation, and the Texas State Historical Association.

SPONSORS: This talk is part of the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Lecture Series, co-sponsored by the Columbia Center for Oral History Research (CCOHR) and the Oral History Master of Arts Program (OHMA). Support from the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE) is provided for programming that embodies late Professor Paul Lazarsfeld’s commitment to improving methodological approaches that address concerns of vital cultural and social significance.

INFORMATION: For more information, please email Amy Starecheski at aas39(at)