2019-2020 Research Grants

Immigration and Legal Attitudes: Examining Pueblodelphia

Principal Investigator: Amada Armenta, Assistant Professor, Urban Planning

This project seeks to understand how undocumented residents of Philadelphia from Puebla, Mexico see, understand, and experience police and other legal authorities; how they decide to call (and not call) the police for help; and how their legal attitudes change (or not) once they reside in the US. Armenta argues academic literature on undocumented Latino immigrants in the US often assumes that immigrants have monolithic legal attitudes--all are presumed to live “in the shadows” and all are presumed to avoid contact with police and legal authorities due to an overwhelming fear of deportation. This, even though some research finds that some immigrants hold American police in high esteem, especially compared to police in their countries or origin. Armada states, “Legal attitudes matter because they are foundational to exercising civic and social membership in society, and they affect one’s willingness to cooperate with legal authorities, to claim rights, and to feel included as a member of the polity.” Having already performed extensive research in Philadelphia, Armenta plans to conduct fieldwork in Puebla to interview (1) a sample of Mexican residents who once resided in Philadelphia but returned to their “sending” towns, and (2) a sample of Mexican residents who have never emigrated. She argues that adding international fieldwork to her project is crucial because Mexican immigrants in Philadelphia are deeply connected and shaped by their “sending” communities. Her research findings will be used in an article and book manuscript.

Spanish Mission Architecture and the White Spatial Imaginary in New Zealand

Principal Investigator: Genevieve Carpio, Associate Professor, Chicana/o studies

Carpio argues that between the two World Wars, New Zealand’s built environment became redolent with the verandas, archways, and tile roofs that characterize “Spanish Mission” architecture. Unlike the landscape of California, which had birthed the revival of the red-tile roof and its attendant mythologies of a primitive Spanish/Mexican past, New Zealand holds no such history of Spanish colonization. Carpio argues that the growth of Spanish Mission architecture in New Zealand, a nation without the history of Mexican dispossession endemic to the United States, widens our understanding of how racial projects travel and how they continue to service “white possessive logics.” More so, it creates an investment in the “Spanish fantasy past” (Carey McWilliams) as a settler colonial process, one of import not only to Anglo-Mexican relations in the United States, but also in structuring Indigenous and non-Indigenous lives across the Pacific. The proposed study builds on research Carpio completed last summer on Spanish Mission architecture in Sydney, Australia. During a two-week research trip, Carpio wishes to visit extant examples of Spanish Mission architecture in Auckland and Napier, New Zealand. She will also consult the archives of the University of Auckland and National Preservation Office, which have holdings on the architectural history of New Zealand. She also seeks to consult with Māori scholars, and to meet with staff at the Art Deco Trust in Napier, dubbed the “Art Deco City.” From this research, she will complete an article for submission to Fabrications: The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand and a book chapter for her forthcoming manuscript.

Las Aguillas del Desierto (documentary short)

Principal Investigator: Kristine Guevara Flanagan, Assistant Professor, Film, Television, and Digital Media and Maite Zubairre, Professor, Spanish and Portuguese

Aguilas del Desierto is a documentary film project following the efforts of the all-volunteer organization Aguilas del Desierto (Desert Eagles) as it searches for undocumented migrants who go missing when they cross the Mexico/United States border. Composed of volunteers who are gardeners, domestic workers, construction workers and security guards, the Aguilas conduct monthly “investigations,” searching for migrants whose concerned families have contacted the group. The goal of this project is to follow one such search and rescue mission, on the Barry Goldwater bombing range located in the Arizona desert near the U/S//Mexico border. Co-directors and UCLA professors Flanagan and Zubairre will explore the “quiet heroism” of the organization as it recovers human remains on the Arizonan desert and brings much-needed closure to families in Mexico, and, increasingly, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

The Return of the Bracero Program: The Recruitment of Temporary Migrant Workers Under the H-2 Visa Program

Principal Investigator: Ruben Hernandez-Léon, Professor, Sociology

The goal of this study is to understand the growth of guest worker recruitment schemes in the Mexico-US migratory system, specifically pertaining to the dramatic increase of H-2 visa temporary workers. Although this temporary visa program has been in existence for several decades, after the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, U.S. employers began to exploit it. Last year, 280,000 foreign workers entered the United States under one of two H-2 subcategories: the H-2A for agricultural workers and H-2B for non-agricultural workers. Mexicans constitute between 85 and 90 percent of all H-2 visa workers. This migration industry identifies, selects, and mobilizes workers across borders, exercising dual functions of facilitation and labor control. This study seeks to: 1) analyze the migration industry that organizes the recruitment of H-2 migrant workers; 2) understand the selectivity of temporary workers and their reasons for migration abroad; and 3) examine their experiences in areas of new growth of the H-2 program, like the state of California. A survey will be used to collect data from H-2A and H-2B workers in Mexico, specifically in the cities of Monterrey, site of the US consulate that processes half of all H-2 visas, and Tijuana, where the U.S. consulate issues visas for workers from western Mexico coming to California. Interviews will be conducted with Mexican government officials in the states of Zacatecas, Michoacán, and Oaxaca. Staff of contracting agencies, document processing firms, and recruiters operating in the cities of Monterrey, Zacatecas, Morelia (Michoacán), and Oaxaca (places that function as regional hubs for the migration industry) will also be interviewed.

LA Speaks: Mapping Linguistic Boundaries of the Greater Los Angeles Area

Principal Investigator: Norma Mendoza-Denton, Professor, Anthropology and Ji Young Kim, Assistant Professor, Spanish and Portuguese

The broad goal of the LA Speaks project is to capture the experience and perception of spatial and linguistic boundaries in Los Angeles in the words and language of L.A.’s Latino and Asian demographics. Interview subjects will be asked what it is like to grow up and live in the different neighborhoods of LA; how the neighborhoods are changing from a linguistic point of view; and what kind of language differences they perceive locally and across the state. Apart from creating a language corpus of various neighborhoods in Los Angeles, the researcher plan to create an interactive platform that includes: (1) demographic information of each neighborhood (e.g., population, ethnicity, languages, income, education, age, housing); (2) perceptual maps created by local community members; and (3) audiovisual speech samples. All speech samples will include transcriptions, supplemented by analytical charts showing acoustic properties of speech sounds and prosody, as well as characteristics of speakers’ gestures and stylistic variations. In consultation with UCLA Institute for Digital Research and Education and UCLA Data Science Center (Charles E. Young Research Library), the project will include a custom-built web mapping application.

Unruly Rio Grande Terrain of Struggle: The Unresolved Space of El Chamizal

Principal Investigator: Alana de Hinojosa, Doctoral Candidate, César E. Chávez Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies

This project investigates the international Chamizal land dispute between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez that was settled in 1964 following a century of dispute. The settlement resulted in the displacement and dispossession of nearly 5,500 Mexican-Americans living along the border in El Paso. This study addresses gaps in borderlands history literature by arguing that the Chamizal Dispute illuminates the fluidity of (geo)political borders and, moreover, that (geo)political borders are colonial constructs that violently separate the empowered from the disempowered. Using a mixed-methods approach that includes ethnographic fieldwork, archival research, and oral histories, de Hinojosa has requested funding to 1) conduct archival research on the Indigenous peoples of the El Paso-Juarez borderlands; 2) conduct follow-up fieldwork and interviews at the Chamizal National Memorial; and 3) conduct exploratory fieldwork with the present-day residents of “Barrio Chamizal,” who are experiencing their own induced displacement due to ground contamination and air pollution. Barrio Chamizal is located adjacent to the Chamizal Memorial.

Critical Latina/o Foodways: Tracing Regional Foods in Southern California and New Mexico, 1910-1945

Principal Investigator: Natalie Santizo, Doctoral Student, César E. Chávez Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies

This project examines the ways Latina/o foodways—the production, distribution, and consumption of Latina/o influenced agricultural items—shape regional foods and regional identity between 1910 and 1945. Santizo argues that foodways can tell us much about racial formation in this period, as well as the social landscapes of understudied Latina/o “gateways,” particularly semirural communities at the urban edge in New Mexico and Southern California. To this end, she has requested funds to conduct archival research in Southern California and New Mexico, as well as oral histories. In this phase of research, she will expand upon work she has already conducted in the San Gabriel Valley, which focused on Cruz Baca, a Latino farmer-entrepreneur, whose story suggested a larger history of how Latina/o foods, goods, and foodways have shaped regional foods in Southern California. The primary research methods for this project are historical, including the use of primary documents in archives, Congressional notes, oral histories, and digital mapping. By utilizing a foodways lens to activate traditional archives, she hopes to provide a new perspective into Latina/o placemaking in what were ultimately transnational spaces within California and New Mexico.

Abject Communities: Queers and Feminist Punks of Color in Los Angeles

Principal Investigator: Adriana Silvestre, Doctoral Student, César E. Chávez Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies

This project examines how Chicas Rockeras, South East Los Angeles (CRSELA), a social justice and music camp for girls ages 8-14, and Club SCUM, a travelling monthly queer punk club, commonly seek to provide and create space for punk, queer, and feminist Chicanxs and Latinxs who are largely working-class, first-generation, and/or immigrant. Silvestre argues these contemporary punk feminist and queer cultural formations draw from Chicanx, Latinx, punk histories, feminism, queerness, DIY, and rasquache elements to form an intergenerational dialogue through collaborative work. Silvestre seeks to highlight the ways in which punk allows South East Los Angeles queer and feminist communities to create collectively by embracing the very qualities that are abjected and pathologized by gendered, racialized, classed politics of respectability. Silvestre seeks to conduct, video-record, and transcribe 30 interviews with camp and club participants and organizers.

Contesting Precarity and Dispossession: Undocumented Latinxs Transforming the Meaning and Space of Boyle Heights

Principal Investigator: Alma Esperanza Villa Loma, Master’s Student, Urban and Regional Planning

This project considers how undocumented status shapes the housing experiences of Latinx tenants of rental units in Boyle Heights, a longstanding Mexican-American neighborhood that is rapidly gentrifying while still an active center of Latinx advocacy. In light of the current housing crisis in Los Angeles, Villa Loma seeks to understand the complex housing challenges that undocumented Latinxs tenants and members of their households face, and how an underrepresented community vis a vis urban planning navigates the housing market while being undocumented. Through ethnographic research methods, specifically in-depth interviews with undocumented Latinx renters, Villa Loma hopes to contribute to scholarship in urban planning and ethnic studies, and to reveal the ways in which Latinx dwellers in Boyle Heights—a location that is home to many migrant families—are making sense of “home.” Villa Loma also plans to document buildings and businesses that speak to gentrification in the neighborhood, and to create an exhibition with these photographs.

Healing Justice in Chicana Feminist Organizing

Principal Investigator: Nadia Zepeda, Doctoral Candidate, César E. Chávez Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies

This project examines “healing justice”—the situating of community wellness at the center of social justice movements. Zepeda argues that through community wellness efforts, marginalized communities of color are able to disrupt and dismantle heteropatriarchal white supremacist structures. This project investigates the largely unexplored healing justice tradition in Chicanx movements, a tradition that attempts to engender inclusivity, especially for women. Tracing the lineage of Chicanx feminist healing justice, Zepeda will focus part of her study on the life histories of Chicanx activists and conduct interviews with four Chicana maestras. Zepeda will then uses a case study of Mujeres de Maiz, a grassroots womxn of color ARTivist collective founded in 1997 that organizes a variety of events in the community centering wellness through programming, publications, art, and education. Zepeda looks at Mujeres de Maiz and full moon healing circles as contemporary examples of a model of Chicana healing justice framework. Ultimately, this study explores the ways healing justice in Chicanx feminist organizing provides an alternative social justice model that fights for the rights and dignity of marginalized communities. Her undergirding research questions are: What is healing justice? What is the genealogy of healing justice in Chicanx feminist organizing? What are the contemporary iterations of healing justice?