Following the retirement of Professor Erasmo Gamboa in Spring 2017, the AES search committee spent several months of the 2017-2018 academic school year searching for a new hire in Chicano/a Studies. In particular, the committee was dedicated to finding a professor who could engage students in Chicano history, environmental and health issues, labor issues, diasporic communities, but, especially, around knowledge about Chicano people in the Pacific Northwest.
In April, AES was happy to officially hire Professor Alina Méndez. Dr. Méndez received her PhD in United States History in 2017 from the University of California at San Diego. Méndez is currently in the process of turning her dissertation into a book manuscript. “My dissertation,” she explains, “examines the Bracero Program (a binational labor agreement between Mexico and the US that began in 1942 and ended in 1964) in a US-Mexico borderlands region. What I am doing now is framing this period of US and Mexican American history within a larger context of global economic transformations and state migration reform.”
As an instructor, Mendez’s teaching interests include immigration, labor, and relational racial formation. “Whether they’re focusing on the history of the Pacific Northwest or Chicano Film,” she points out, “these courses will underline the shared experiences of Latinos with other racialized groups and the unique histories and heterogeneity of the Latino population itself.” In line with her interests and pedagogical approach, next year Méndez will be teaching “Northwest Latino Ethnic Communities,” “Chicano Film and Narrative,” and a new course titled “Latinas and Labor in the Neoliberal Age.”
Méndez, who grew up in Calexico, California, is looking forward to learning more about the Chicano/Latino community in the Pacific Northwest from the students in her classes next year.