Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies
Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies

John Mckiernan-González

Assistant ProfessorPh.D., University of Michigan

Assistant Professor, Department of History and Center for Mexican American Studies
John Mckiernan-González


  • Phone: 512.475.7260
  • Office: GAR 0.108
  • Office Hours: W 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
  • Campus Mail Code: B7000


Research interests

Professor Mckiernan-González is fascinated by the intersection of public health, civil rights and transnational social movements. This variety of commitments translates into research on 19th and 20th popular mobilization and American public health policies at the Mexican border, race and cross-border labor politics, and Latino public history.

Courses taught

Professor Mckiernan-González teaches courses in Latino Social History, North American Borderlands, Health and Illness in North American History, Mexican American history, and the United States since 1865.


Rockefeller Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Mexican American Studies and Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies, (2004-2005)

Rights, Recognition and Revolution: The United States Public Health Service and the Mexican Border, 1900-1930, Inaugural Hispanic American History Month Lecture, the National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health,

“Camp Jenner and Other Field Trials: Black Exodus, Agricultural Labor and Federal Smallpox Therapy in the New South - Northern Mexico Borderlands, 1895,” Distinguished Speaker Series in Ethnic Studies, University of California-San Diego, La Jolla, CA (2001)

Latino Graduate Student Fellowship, Smithsonian Institution (1997)

Rackham Merit Fellow, the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Distinguished Service Award, Eisenhower Middle School

Latino Faculty and Staff Association, the University of South Florida, (2005)


LAS 386 • Borderlands History: Research

40401 • Fall 2011
Meets M 100pm-400pm CBA 4.336
(also listed as HIS 389, MAS 392)

LAS 386 • Borderlands History: Readings

41065 • Fall 2009
Meets M 600pm-900pm BUR 128
(also listed as HIS 392)

HIS 392 / LAS 386
Borderlands History: Readings

Monday 6:00-9:00
Burdine 128

Instructor:      John Mckiernan-Gonzalez

On May 1, 2006, people in towns and cities across the United States gathered to demand national recognition of their work, their labor and their long presence in American communities. This /day without immigrants/ became the largest protest since the civil rights movement transformed the United States, breaking records in Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Miami among others. Suddenly aware of the other in their midst, scholars and others have placed this event in a dangerously new flow of people, ideas, goods and national boundaries.  Borderlands scholars might respond to this contemporary anxiety by saying, "Welcome to America."

This Readings course in / Borderlands History /will build on the longstanding engagement of North American scholars with borderlands spaces in American history.  Acknowledging the existing commitments linking Latino History, Borderlands History and American Studies, students will draw from a variety of historically informed approaches and discussions across disciplinary fields associated with borderlands history. Because this is a historiography course, students are expected to reflect collectively on the methods, theories, rhetoric and cultural work of a given case study, begin to place the texts within institutional contexts, and  - perhaps most important -- acknowledge the contribution each author has sought make in their research projects.

Students may write a historiography paper that reflects their interest in a given literature. Students can also complete a  paper that brings their theoretical concerns to bear on their archival research.

Research Abstracts
Book Review
Book Presentation
Research Narrative
Research Presentation
Final Paper


Ned Blackhawk, Violence over the Land: Indians and Empires in the Early American West

George Sanchez, Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, identity and Culture in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900-1945

Mae Ngai, Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America

Elliot Young, Continental Crossroads: Remapping U.S.-Mexico Borderlands History*

Sarah Deutsch, Women and the City: Gender, Space and Power in Boston, 1870-1940

Zaragosa Vargas, Labor Rights Are Civil Rights: Mexican American Workers in
Twentieth-Century America

Pekka Hammalainen, Comanche Empire,  Maria Josefina Saldaña Portillo, Revolutionary Imagination in the Age of Development*

Adrian Burgos, Playing America's Game: Baseball, Latinos and the Color Line

Lorena Oropeza, Raza Si! Guerra No!: Chicano Protest and Patriotism

Andres Resendez, A land so strange: The Epic Voyage of Cabeza de Vaca

Jake Kosek, Understories: the Political Life of Forests in Northern New Mexico

Eric Meeks, Border Citizens: The Making of Indians, Mexicans and Anglos in the Arizona Borderlands

Students will complete the following written products.
1. Two abstracts for the proposed research paper (to be shared with class)
2. One book review
3. A ten page excerpt of the research paper (to be shared with class) that is engaged with primary sources, places itself within relevant disciplinary literature and is deep within your emerging narrative.
5. Complete a 20 page paper that may be used as a base for a conference paper.

Grading Policy:
*Seminar Paper                     (40%)*
Research Excerpt                   (10%)*
Research Presentation            (10%)*
Participation                          (20%)*
Book Presentation                  (10%)*
Book Review                          (10%)*

The Seminar Paper
Forty percent of your grade will be based on the final research paper. A completed research paper will include an initial abstract, a preliminary bibliography, a research consultation, a final 25 page paper with an abstract attached.

The remaining assessment will be based on your engagement with the seminar over the course of the seminar. This evaluation includes presentations, the timely completion of research abstracts, rough drafts, your commitment to your research and the quality of your respectful engagement with your fellow students.

The Research Excerpt:
I expect a ten page excerpt from your research. I expect an engagement with your primary sources, a deployment of your theoretical framework in your analysis of the evidence, and a sense of the emerging historical narrative. Since it is an excerpt, you will need to include an abstract that describes where your excerpt falls in your proposed paper. Your fellow students will need to be able to fit your excerpt into the larger paper using the abstract.

On Participation:
Your success in this class depends on your active participation. You should come to section not only having read, but also having reviewed your notes and thought about the material so that you are prepared with questions, topics and insights for discussion.

Regular participation in class discussion is crucial. Your understanding of the assigned material will help your fellow students grapple with the themes of this course. I strongly encourage comments that initiate an informed understanding of the lectures and the weekly readings. Active listening, informed questions, and brief observations on Blackboard or in class are crucial to full participation. Hence, you should make an effort to cover a substantial portion of the assignment for each section.

As all participants are engaged in the production of a research paper, the weekly seminars will emphasize the more collective dimensions involved in the creation of a research community. We will learn how to offer productive and supportive feedback to our fellow scholars.

Some students' abilities may pose difficulties for different kinds of participation. Please arrange to let me know privately during the first week of class to discuss accommodations. Please bring a current *Letter of Accommodations* from the Office of Disability Services that is prerequisite for receiving accommodations. Accommodated examinations through the Office of Disability Services require two weeks notice.

All course documents are available in alternate format if requested in the student's *Letter of Accommodation*. For more information, please check the Office of Disability Services: http://deanofstudents.utexas.edu/ssd/services.php

It is my hope that differences in interpretation will appear in this class. This should not be a surprise, as we are all invested in different ways in the history of the United States. Thus, it is important for discussion that each student not only share his or her insights but also respect and engage the efforts of other students to grapple with the course material in section. Obviously, I do not expect the same interpretation from all students. I do expect that each participant in the class be treated with courtesy and respect.

If at any point participation is a problem for you, please let me know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy:
Attendance is absolutely crucial to your success in this seminar. Your absence will affect the quality of discussion. If you cannot attend the seminar, please let me know well in advance. Failure to do so will weigh heavily on my evaluation of your participation.

Method of Evaluation: (1) Class attendance and participation is required. (Should an emergency situation necessitate your absence_, a 4-5 page analysis of the week's readings will be due by 4 p.m. the Monday after you missed class_.) (2) Students are expected to bring prepared discussion notes to each class session.

On the Book Review:
The book review should cover a number of points within the space of two or three pages. The review can chart the more significant contributions of the book in question; comment on ways an argument could be strengthened, improved, or challenged; quickly communicate some problems in the way an argument was advanced, and/or take issue with the book itself.

Book reviews provide a crutch and a guide for other historians and scholars. As such, they constitute an important part of your socialization as future scholars.

On Research:
The seminar will challenge the idea that historical research and writing must be a lonely task. Participants will share and comment on early and rough versions of their research proposals and seminar drafts throughout the seminar.

On Abstracts:
The abstract should communicate a sense of the topic, the theoretical frameworks deployed, the kind of evidence marshaled, and the general importance of your argument and topic to audiences in your scholarly field or disciplines.

On the Book Presentation:
The book presentation can be a group project that involves the central book for a week. Students must establish a set of questions or discussions that help the class get a sense of the argument, the use of evidence, the larger significance, and raise various theoretical and methodological issues in the reading for the week.

The format is open -- but must communicate engagement with the reading, the scholarly debate around the book, and an understanding of the book's general argument. I expect handouts and a formal outline from students involved in the book presentation.

I strongly recommend that students work on a book that is directly relevant to their research topic.   

University Policies
Use of E-mail for Official Correspondence to Students
All students should become familiar with the University's official e-mail student
notification policy.  It is the student's responsibility to keep the University informed as to changes in his or her e-mail address.  Students are expected to check e-mail on a frequent and regular basis in order to stay current with University-related communications, recognizing that certain communications may be time-critical. It is recommended that e-mail be checked daily, but at a minimum, twice per week. The complete text of this policy and instructions for updating your e-mail address are available at   http://www.utexas.edu/its/policies/emailnotify.html.

Documented Disability Statement
Any student with a documented disability who requires academic accommodations should contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at (512) 471-6259 (voice) or 1-866-329-3986 (video phone).  Faculty are not required to provide accommodations without an official accommodation letter from SSD.  //

* Please notify me as quickly as possible if the material being presented in class is not accessible (e.g., instructional videos need captioning, course packets are not readable for proper alternative text conversion, etc.).

* Please notify me as early in the semester as possible is disability-related accommodations for field trips are required. Advanced notice will permit the arrangement of accommodations on the given day (e.g., transportation, site accessibility, etc.).

* Contact Services for Students with Disabilities at 471-6259 (voice) or 1-866-329-3986 (video phone) or reference SSD's website for more disability-related information: http://www.utexas.edu/diversity/ddce/ssd/for_cstudents.php

Behavior Concerns Advice Line (BCAL)
If you are worried about someone who is acting differently, you may use the Behavior Concerns Advice Line to discuss by phone your concerns about another individual's behavior. This service is provided through a partnership among the Office of the Dean of Students, the Counseling and Mental Health Center (CMHC), the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), and The University of Texas Police Department (UTPD). Call 512-232-5050 or visit _http://www.utexas.edu/safety/bcal_.

Q drop Policy
The State of Texas has enacted a law that limits the number of course drops for academic reasons to six (6).  As stated in Senate Bill 1231:

"Beginning with the fall 2007 academic term, an institution of higher education
may not permit an undergraduate student a total of more than six dropped courses, including any course a transfer student has dropped at another institution of higher education, unless the student shows good cause for dropping more than that number."

Emergency Evacuation Policy
Occupants of buildings on the UT Austin campus are required to evacuate and assemble outside when a fire alarm is activated or an announcement is made.  Please be aware of the following policies regarding evacuation:

Familiarize yourself with all exit doors of the classroom and the building. Remember that the nearest exit door may not be the one you used when you entered the building.

If you require assistance to evacuate, inform me in writing during the first week of class.

In the event of an evacuation, follow my instructions or those of class instructors.

Do not re-enter a building unless you're given instructions by the Austin Fire
Department, the UT Austin Police Department, or the Fire Prevention Services office.

Weekly Calendar

Herbert Eugene Bolton
The Epic of Greater America

Gloria Anzaldua
Aztlan: the other Mexico

Adelman and Aron
Borderlands & Borderlands

Wunder & Hammalainen
Lethal Spaces, Lethal Places

*Research Topic Paragraph Due*

Ned Blackhawk
Violence over the Land: Indians and Empires in the Early American West

George Sanchez
Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900-1945

Mae Ngai
Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America

Elliot Young
Continental Crossroads: Remapping U.S.-Mexico Borderlands History*

*Research Abstract Due*

Sarah Deutsch
Women and the City: Gender, Space and Power in Boston, 1870-1940

Zaragosa Vargas
Labor Rights Are Civil Rights: Mexican American Workers in Twentieth-Century America

Pekka Hammalainen
Comanche Empire

Maria Josefina Saldaña Portillo
Revolutionary Imagination in the Age of Development*

*Research Narrative Due*

electronic submission*

Adrian Burgos
Playing America's Game: Baseball, Latinos and the Color Line

Lorena Oropeza
Raza Si! Guerra No!: Chicano Protest and Patriotism
George Sanchez
The Crisis in the Historical Profession

Andres Resendez
A land so strange: the Epic Voyage of Cabeza de Vaca

Jake Kosek
Understories: the Political Life of Forests in Northern New Mexico*

Eric Meeks
Border Citizens: The Making of Indians, Mexicans and Anglos in the Arizona Borderlands, The University of Texas Press

*Final Research Abstract Due*

*Final Project Due*

The asterisk  means I will make book chapters electronically available

Curriculum Vitae

Profile Pages

External Links

  • Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies

    University of Texas at Austin
    SRH 1.310
    2300 Red River Street D0800
    Austin, Texas 78712