Date April 26, 2017
Media Contact

Brown faculty member wins Carnegie fellowship for racial violence research

Monica Muñoz Martinez will use the award to complete her first book, begin a second, and create an associated digital platform that aims to enrich current understandings of histories of racial violence in the humanities.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] —The Carnegie Corporation of New York has awarded Monica Muñoz Martinez, the Stanley J. Bernstein '65 P'02 Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnic Studies at Brown University, one of 35 2017 Andrew Carnegie fellowships for a project titled “New Narratives for Reckoning with Histories of Violence.”

Each fellow receives up to $200,000 toward the funding of significant research and writing in the social sciences and humanities.

“The health of our democracy depends on an informed citizenry, and our universities, academies and academic associations play an essential role in replenishing critical information and providing knowledge through scholarship,” said Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York and the former president of Brown.

Martinez, who earned her undergraduate degree from Brown in 2006, will use the fellowship to complete her first book, “The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in the Texas Borderlands,” begin drafting her second project, “Mapping Violence,” and make a digital mapping platform available to the public.

In her book, Martinez explores the thousands of killings of ethnic Mexican migrants by state law enforcement officers and vigilantes in the Texas-Mexico borderlands between 1910 and 1920.

“The book shows how politicians, the media and historians convinced broader publics that anti-Mexican violence should be remembered as a symbol of progress and a moment to celebrate,” Martinez said. “For them, more dead Mexican bodies near the border meant safer conditions for Anglo settlement, consumption and capital.”

Her second project, “Mapping Violence,” will include a digital platform and a book manuscript that explores the historical insights gained from studying violence across multiple racial and ethnic groups.

The digital platform, Martinez said, will chart episodes of racial violence in Texas between 1900 and 1930 and make a new digital archive available to the public. The archive will take shape as an interactive map that marks the location of events of racial violence and enable users to read a short description of each event and access sources for further research.

“When histories of violence are mapped,” Martinez said, “new patterns of state policing, vigilantism and social organizing become visible.”

Martinez began developing “Mapping Violence” with the support of a SEED grant from Brown’s Office of the Vice President for Research and an Interdisciplinary Team Undergraduate Research Teaching Award. The Carnegie award will enable her to continue her work and her collaborations with the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities, the Brown University Library’s Center for Digital Scholarship and the Brown Digital Repository

All of these resources contribute to a unique method for probing and confronting the legacy of violence in Texas, she said.

“Although there is now international consensus on the importance of confronting traumatic histories, local residents in the United States too often have borne the burden of demanding a public reckoning with legacies of state violence,” Martinez said. “I believe that to change public understandings of the past, and its relation to our present moment, also requires new narratives for making research available to the public.”