Visiting scholars will use UNM resources to delve into region’s history

Gabriel Meléndez, director of the Center for Regional Studies (CRS) at The University of New Mexico, has announced that visiting scholars Vanessa Fonseca-Chavez and Tracy Brown will carry out research projects this summer at UNM through the center’s Scholar-in-Residence initiative.

Fonseca-Chávez is an assistant professor of English at Arizona State University who received her doctorate in Spanish Cultural Studies from ASU in 2013. While at UNM, she will conduct preliminary research on her second book project, which is a social history of the eastern Arizona/western New Mexico borderlands from the territorial period through the 1960s. The Scholar-in-Residence Program will enable her to utilize UNM resources, especially the Center for Southwest Research archives pertaining to communities in northwestern New Mexico.

Fonseca-Chávez’ project engages two areas of investigation: 19th and 20th century social histories and ethnographic fieldwork and community documentation. She plans to travel to Grants and Gallup to conduct interviews with people who will share memories of place-making across territorial and state lines in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico.

Brown is a professor of anthropology in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work at Central Michigan University. She received her Ph.D. in anthropology from Duke University in 2000. While at UNM, she plans to continue her research on the continuity of Pueblo people and communities into recent times.

Brown will identify and analyze documents central to her project that are located at the CRS, specifically documentation that speaks to the confused legal status of Pueblo Indians between 1846 and 1913 and how this status has shaped questions of Pueblo sovereignty and identity. Her research will focus on determining what documentation contains evidence of Pueblos speaking for themselves and their communities on these issues, rather than institutions and/or territorial and federal officials speaking for or about them.

Meléndez said he was pleased with these appointments, noting that the work of both scholars aligns with the mission of CRS to promote knowledge about New Mexico and the Southwest through research, education, learning, and related scholarly activities. CRS encourages research that draws on evidence-based interpretations to improve understanding of historical, contemporary and public policy issues in a regional context.

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