Ana Raquel Minian is an Associate Professor in the Department of History.
Her first book, Undocumented Lives: The Untold Story of Mexican Migration (Harvard University Press, 2018) received the David Montgomery Award for the best book in labor and working-class history, given jointly by the Organization of American Historians and the Labor and Working-Class History Association; the Immigration and Ethnic History Society’s Theodore Saloutos Book Award for an early career scholar’s work in immigration and ethnic history; the Western Association of Women Historians’ Frances Richardson Keller-Sierra Prize for best monograph in the field of history by a member; the Association for Humanist Sociology’s Betty and Alfred McClung Lee Book Award for best book in humanist sociology; and the Americo Paredes Book Award for Non-Fiction presented by the Center for Mexican American Studies at South Texas College. It was also a finalist for the Frederick Jackson Turner Award, given to the author of a first scholarly book dealing with some aspect of American history by the Organization of American Historians and received an honorable mention for the Latin American Studies Association’s Bryce Wood Book Award given to an outstanding book on Latin America in the social sciences and humanities published in English.
The book explores how unauthorized migration from Mexico to the United States became an entrenched phenomenon in the years between 1965 and 1986. In this period, Mexican policymakers, US authorities, and Mexican communities of high out-migration came to reject the long-term presence of Mexican working-class men. In Mexico, the country’s top politicians began to view men’s migration with favor as a way of alleviating national economic problems. In the United States, migrants were classified as “illegal aliens.” Migrants’ permanent residence was also denied at the local level. When they resided in Mexico, their communities pressured them to head north to make money. But when they lived in the United States, their families insisted that they return home. As a result migrants described themselves as being “from neither here nor there” (“Ni de aquí ni de allá”). They responded to their situation by engaging in circular, undocumented migration and by creating their own cartographies of belonging. Migrants resisted the idea that they were superfluous in Mexico by becoming indispensable economic agents through the remittances they sent; they countered their illegality in the United States by establishing that they deserved constitutional rights; and they diminished the pressures enacted by their communities by reconfiguring the very meaning of community life. These efforts provided migrants with at least partial inclusion in the multiple locales in which they lived; however, that inclusion was only possible because they resided, at least part of their time, in the United States. In 1986, the US Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which made it more difficult to cross the border. By then, however, undocumented migration had already become a self-perpetuating phenomenon. Thereafter, migrants settled permanently in the United States and dared not return to Mexico. Rather than feeling “pushed” from all the spaces in which they resided, they now felt trapped in the United States, which they started calling “La Jaula de Oro” (The Golden Cage).
A version of a chapter of my book entitled “De Terruño a Terruño: Re-imagining Belonging through Clubes Sociales,” was published in the Journal of American History in June 2017. It analyzes the growth of migrant organizations that sent aid to Mexico from Los Angeles between the early 1960s to the mid-1980s. Beyond work from my book, I also published “‘Indiscriminate and Shameless Sex’: The Strategic Use of Sexuality by the United Farm Workers” in American Quarterly in 2013. This article examines the ways in which the union used a sexual discourse to propagate its labor goals.
Minian's second book project, "No Man’s Lands: A New History of Immigration Restriction," examines how during the late Cold War and its aftermath, U.S. officials created new spaces and territories designed to prevent Latin American and Spanish-speaking Caribbean migrants from entering the United States. Rather than a thought-out and coherent project, these various spatial enterprises were designed haphazardly in response to particular incidents and migrations.
Minian is also writing a history about immigration detention in the United States
Prospective graduate students: if you are interested in working with me please apply to the field of Latin American history rather than U.S. history! You can then do a a Latin American, U.S., or transnational project if you so desire and work with all the other U.S. faculty but I only look at applications in Latin American history.
Behind Bars: The History of Immigration Detention (book manuscript in progress)
No Man’s Lands: North American Migration and the Remaking of Peoples and Places (Book Manuscript in progress)