M.S. Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2015 (Advisor: Bill Cronon) B.A. Politics-Environmental Studies with honors, Whitman College, 2010
19th- and 20th-century environmental history and historical geography of North America; political ecology; cultural geography; western American history; U.S.-Mexico borderlands history; race, ethnicity, and Indigeneity; environmental justice; history and geography as novelistic writing
My dissertation examines how the lower Colorado River, in serving as a boundary separating communities of different races and nationalities, shaped belonging and exclusion in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. In the century after the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo drew the modern U.S.-Mexico border, the Colorado River undermined the border's fixity and subverted the authority of both states to discipline borderlands subjects. During this era of flux before dams regulated flows, the river paradoxically fixed territorial boundaries and shifted unpredictably across its floodplain, posing problems of jurisdiction and sovereignty when it no longer adhered to the boundaries it supposedly demarcated. In response, local Indigenous and African-American communities who shared these dynamic boundaries formed alliances and negotiated conflicts among one another, the U.S., and Mexico to remain rooted to their respective territories. Three interwoven case studies focusing on African-American squatters, Yuma Indians, and Cocopah Indians suggest that the river mediated racial belonging and exclusion long before contemporary water crises. Using archival and oral history methods, my dissertation reframes the history of settler colonialism in the borderlands as multiple, not binary.
American Historical Association (AHA); American Society for Environmental History (ASEH); Association of American Geographers (AAG); Western History Association (WHA); UW-Madison Center for Culture, History, and Environment (CHE); Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (ASLE)
Awards and Honors
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Madison, Wisconsin 53706