C.J. Alvarez, Assistant Professor, Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, University of Texas, Austin, and Mellon fellow at SAR
This talk offers preliminary answers to three big questions based on both archival research and oral histories: 1) What is desert history? The answer varies depending on whether you ask a scientist or humanist. Alvarez will outline a few ways he believes different disciplines can usefully speak to one another, and why environmental historians have often ignored arid lands. 2) What can we learn from desert dwellers? The dominant narratives about drylands have been produced by romantics, developers, and colonial governments, almost none of whom came from deserts themselves. To counter this, Alvarez will explain his commitment to writing biographies of desert people. 3) Where does the U.S.-Mexico border fit in? The international divide passes through the Chihuahuan Desert, but political borders have the effect of emphasizing difference. An environmental lens, Alvarez argues, reveals important but often obscured similarities between the United States and Mexico.
This event is free and open to the public. The presentation will take place in the Eric S. Dobkin Boardroom on the SAR campus. Advanced registration is encouraged.