David-James Gonzales, University of Southern California and Natalia Molina, University of California-San Diego | Newberry

David-James Gonzales, University of Southern California and Natalia Molina, University of California-San Diego

Friday, April 20, 2018


Borderlands and Latino/a Studies Seminar

David-James Gonzales–From Metropolitan Borderland to Mexican Apartheid: Race, Place, and Labor in Orange County, CA, 1889 to 1930

Focusing on the reorganization of space and social relations resulting from the converging migrations of Anglos, Europeans, and ethnic Mexicans, I examine the transition of Orange County, California from a late 19th century multi-ethnic borderland into a racially segregated burgeoning metropolitan region by 1930. Analyzing oral histories and archival materials that have yet to be evaluated together, I argue that the region’s Anglo/European commercial-civic-citrus-elite instituted a system of ethno-racial apartheid to achieve rapid economic growth during the first three decades of the 20th century. I also argue that this effort to disenfranchise ethnic Mexicans instituted a white-brown color line that extended the reach and surveillance of the U.S.-Mexico border to private and public spaces throughout the Santa Ana Valley by the end of the decade.

Natalia Molina–Ethnic Mexicans as Place Makers in Mid-Twentieth-Century Los Angeles

This paper investigates the history of the multiethnic LA neighborhood of Echo Park, examining how variety of community builders helped define Echo Park as a “place” featuring multiethnic and multiracial spaces. At the heart of the project is an in-depth look at a Mexican restaurant which served as an “urban anchor” for its owner, employees, and customers. While residents of ethnic enclaves such as East Los Angeles were spatially and racially segregated, Echo Park residents occupied a geographic and cultural crossroads. This is not to say that Echo Park was a multicultural utopia. It was not. However, its complex economic, racial, and ethnic history cannot be explained by the conventional narrative of white flight, disinvestment, and increasing racial segregation seen in many post-war studies.

Cost and Registration Information 

Newberry Scholarly Seminars are pre-circulated. For a copy of the paper, email scholarlyseminars@newberry.org. Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.