Associate Professor, American Civilization, History, and Ethnic Studies:
American Civilization, Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity
Phone: +1 401 863 1697
Professor Garcia's research interests include Chicano/Latino identity and community formation, race and ethnicity in the U.S. labor history, Latina/o education, American popular culture, and urban/suburbanization. He is currently at work on a project that documents the struggle for worker rights and educational equity in Southern California rural communities.
Matthew Garcia is Associate Professor of American Civilization, Ethnic Studies and History. He is Interim Director, Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, Brown University, 2005-2006. Research interests include Chicano/Latino identity and community formation, race and ethnicity in the U.S, labor history, Latina/o education, American popular culture, and urban/suburbanization.
He is the author of A World of Its Own: Race, Labor, and Citrus in the Making of Greater Los Angeles, 1900-1970 (The University of North Carolina Press, 2001) which won several awards inluding Best Book (co-winner, Oral History Association, 2003), John Hope Franklin Prize, Best Book in American Studies (American Studies Association, Honorable Mention, 2003), and Laura Romero Prize, Best First Book in American Studies, (American Studies Association, Honorable Mention, 2003). He recently co-edited Geographies of Latinidad: Mapping Latina/o Studies for the Twenty-First Century (with Angharad Valdivia and Marie Leger; forthcoming, Duke University Press).
Select articles include "The 'Chicano' Dance Hall: Remapping Public Space in Post-World War II Greater Los Angeles" in Sound Identities (1999), "Intercultural Relations and Popular Culture in the San Gabriel Valley: Padua Hills Theatre and El Monte's American Legion Stadium" in California Politics & Policy (1998), "'Memories of El Monte': Intercultural Dance Halls in Post-World War II Greater Los Angeles" in Generations of Youth (1998), "Chicana/o History in a Changing Discipline" in Humboldt Journal of Social Relations (1996), and "'Just Put on that Padua Hills' Smile": The Padua Hills Theatre and The Mexican Players, 1931-1974" in California History (1995).
In his first book, A World of Its Own: Race, Labor and Citrus in the Making of Greater Los Angeles, 1900-1970, Professor Garcia asked the question, "If 'labour in the earth' inspires virtue, but someone other than the 'farmer' performed the labor, who is then virtuous?" Citrus farm owners avoided this conundrum by celebrating the natural advantages of Southern California's Edenic landscape, making it appear as though their profits and congenial lifestyles flowed from the organic union of environment, machine, and their labor. Evoking Raymond Williams' astute observations of stories about farm work in his native England, citrus owners treated labor as a curse that was mostly eliminated through the unusual fecundity of Southern California. The stories of a perfect place where money grew on trees in the form of oranges rendered the labor of thousands of Native American, Chinese, Sikh, Japanese, Filipino and Mexican workers virtually invisible. In their absence, citrus ranchers claimed credit for beginning a new agrarian society organized around citriculture.
In his current project, The California South: Race, Labor and Justice on the California Border, 1900-1980, he explores the formation of agricultural empires in the California desert and the exploitation of natural resources and Mexican labor which made it possible. During the summer 2004, he took six Brown students to the Inland Southern California area to conduct archival research and oral histories with immigrant farm workers from multiple generations. The first portion of this project was a museum exhibition at the John Nicolas Brown Center from April 29 to Sept. 30, 2005. Entitled "Educating Change: Latina Activism and the Struggle for Educational Equity," the exhibit featured the lives of three immigrant Mexican women Socorro Gómez-Potter, Yolanda Almaraz-Esquivel and Ramona Medina who organized a boycott of Coachella Valley schools in protest of the physical abuse of Mexican children by local teachers and to demand bilingual education. This was the first phase of the current book-length project, which explores the formation of agricultural empires in the California desert and the exploitation of natural resources and Mexican labor that made it possible. The California South will highlight several competing and, at times, complementary traditions in Mexican American community organizing, including those practiced by: United Farm Workers, Mexican American Political Association, Movimiento Estudantíl Chicana/o de Aztlán, and La Raza Unida Party, as well as previously unacknowledged organizations such as the Community Committee for Alternatives in Education and the Tri-Valley Chicano Caucus.
Ph.D., 1997, Claremont Graduate School
2003: Best Book (co-winner), A World of Its Own: Race, Labor, and Citrus in the Making of Greater Los Angeles, 1900-1970, Oral History Association
2003: John Hope Franklin Prize, Best Book in American Studies, American Studies Association, Honorable Mention.
2003: Laura Romero Prize, Best First Book in American Studies, American Studies Association, Honorable Mention
2002-03: Rippey Award for Teaching, University of Oregon
2001-02: Junior Professorship Development Award, University of Oregon
1998-99: Resident Associate, Center for Advanced Studies, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
1998-99: Hewlett Grant for the faculty seminar and course Constructing Race: Asians, Africans, and Latinos in America, with Dan Littlefield and Poshek Fu
1998-99: Faculty Fellow, Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
1995-96: Guest Lectureship in Latino History, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
1999-2006: Labor and Working Class History Association
1998-2001: Social Science History Association
1995-2006: American Historical Association
1995-2004: California Historical Society
1994-2006: American Studies Association
1993-2006: Organization of American Historians
2003-04: Oral History Association
Professor Garcia teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in American Civilization, History and Ethnic Studies. Among the courses he has taught at Brown are "Ethnic Los Angeles," "Theory Into Practice: Service Learning at a Dual Language Charter School" (co-taught), "Introduction to American/Ethnic Studies," "Chicana/Chicano Studies," "Sex, Love, and Race: Miscegenation, Mixed-Race, and Interracial Relations," "Alien-nation: Latina/o Immigration in Comparative Perspectives," "Introduction to Latina/o Studies," and "Interdisciplinary Methods," a graduate seminar in American Civilization.
His current advisees include 4 Ph.D. students and 2 PhD candidates in American Civilization, and 3 Mellon Mays fellows.
1996-97: Charles Bolin Dissertation Fellow, Williams College, Williamstown, MA (declined)
1995-96: Claremont Graduate School Dissertation Fellow
1996: Smithsonian Dissertation Fellow, Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.
1995: Haynes Research Fellowship, Huntington Library, San Marino, CA
1994-95: Claremont Graduate School Humanities Fellow
1994: Inter-University Program for Latino Research, Latino Graduate Training Seminar in Qualitative Methodology. "Interpreting Latino Cultures: Research and Museums." Smithsonian Institution, graduate participant.