Since the turn of the twentieth century, men and women from the greater Mexican borderlands have shared labor concerns, engaged in labor solidarities, and employed activist strategies to improve their livelihoods. Based on findings from archival research in Mexico City, Washington, DC; Texas; Tamaulipas; and Nuevo León and by engaging in transnational methodological and historiographical approaches, this article takes two distinct but related cases of labor solidarities from the early twentieth century to reveal the class and gendered complexities of transnational labor solidarities. The cases of Gregorio Cortez, a Mexican farmer and immigrant from Tamaulipas living and working in Texas in 1901, and Caritina Piña, a Tamaulipas-born woman engaged in anarcho-syndicalism in the 1920s, reveal the potential of cross-class and gendered solidarities and underscore how a variety of social contexts informed and shaped labor movements. Excavating solidarities from a transnational perspective while exposing important limitations of the labor movement sheds light on the gendered, racial, and class complexities of such forms of shared struggle; but, equally important, reminds us of how much one can learn about the power of larger, global labor movements by closely examining the experiences of those residing on nations’ edges.
Rooted in Place, Constructed in Movement: Transnational Labor Solidarities in the Texas-Mexico Borderlands
SONIA HERNÁNDEZ received a PhD in Latin American History from the University of Houston in 2006, and since then she has specialized in the intersections of gender and labor in the US-Mexican borderlands, Chicana/o history, and modern Mexico. Hernández is currently an associate professor of history at Texas A&M University and is the cofounder of the public history project Refusing to Forget. Her research has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Texas Council for the Humanities, and the Summerfield G. Roberts Foundation. She is the author of Working Women into the Borderlands (2014), which earned the Sara A. Whaley Book Prize, the Liz Carpenter Award, and the Jim Parish Award for Documenting Regional History; in 2017, the Instituto Nacional de Estudios Históricos de las Revoluciones de México (INHERM) translated and published her book as Mujeres, trabajo y región fronteriza (2017). Her forthcoming book, “For a Just and Better World”: Engendering Anarchism in the Mexican Borderlands, 1900–1938, examines anarcho-syndicalism in the Gulf of Mexico and greater Mexican Borderlands region from the perspective of feminismo transfronterizo. Her latest book project revisits the 1901 Gregorio Cortez incident from a gender, state violence, and greater transnational and norteño perspective. Her preliminary research for this new book was funded by the W. Fulbright Program through a Fulbright Garcia-Robles border fellowship and the remaining research will be conducted during her tenure as an Arts & Humanities Fellow at Texas A&M University, 2020–22.
Sonia Hernández; Rooted in Place, Constructed in Movement: Transnational Labor Solidarities in the Texas-Mexico Borderlands. Labor 1 March 2021; 18 (1): 38–53. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15476715-8767326
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