C.J. Alvarez, Assistant Professor, Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, University of Texas, Austin, and 2019 Mellon fellow at SAR

This talk offers preliminary answers to three big questions based on both archival research and oral histories: 1) What is desert history? The answer varies depending on whether you ask a scientist or humanist. Alvarez will outline a few ways he believes different disciplines can usefully speak to one another, and why environmental historians have often ignored arid lands. 2) What can we learn from desert dwellers? The dominant narratives about drylands have been produced by romantics, developers, and colonial governments, almost none of whom came from deserts themselves. To counter this, Alvarez will explain his commitment to writing biographies of desert people. 3) Where does the U.S.-Mexico border fit in? The international divide passes through the Chihuahuan Desert, but political borders have the effect of emphasizing difference. An environmental lens, Alvarez argues, reveals important but often obscured similarities between the United States and Mexico.


About the School for Advanced Research (SAR): Founded in 1907, the School for Advanced Research (SAR) is one of North America’s preeminent independent institutes for the study of anthropology, related social sciences and humanities. SAR is home to the Indian Arts Research Center, one of the nation’s most important Southwest Native American art research collections. Through prestigious scholar residency and artist fellowship programs, public programs and SAR Press, SAR advances intellectual inquiry in order to better understand humankind in an increasingly global and interconnected world. Additional information on the work of our resident scholars and Native American artists is available on the SAR website: https://sarweb.org/, on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/schoolforadvancedresearch.org/, and on Twitter: @schadvresearch.
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Chihuahuan Desert History with C.J. Alvarez

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