Current PhD Students
Ligia Atzimba Arguilez
Ligia’s work focuses on the history of the creosote bush, Larrea tridentata, and its natural and cultural life among the people of the deserts along the U.S.-Mexico border. She explores how this dominant plant can expand and inform borderlands historiography through an interdisciplinary methodology. Prominent themes in her work include the connections between environment and identity, memory, and traditional healing forms along the border. Ligia was born in Tijuana, Baja California, and she was raised in El Paso, TX. Her undergraduate research was on barbed wire and the incarceration of Mexican nationals in the U.S. in 1913-14.
Michael Britt is a PhD student with major fields in Borderlands and U.S. History. He was born and raised in New Jersey and lived in California for ten years, where he earned his B.A. in Political Science from CSU-San Bernardino. In 2013, he earned a M.A. in International Relations from Webster University in Missouri and began studying History at UTEP in 2016, where he earned a second B.A. Michael’s methodology combines historical research methods and understandings with methods in political science. He is currently researching the early political history of El Paso. In addition, Michael currently serves as a member of the U.S. military.
Jessica DeJohn Bergen
Jessica DeJohn Bergen is a Ph.D. Candidate in Borderlands with major and minor fields in United States and French imperial history. She specializes in Louisiana and Acadian/Cajun history, identity, and culture. Her current research begins with late 19th through the mid 20th century documents, tracking the evolution of Cajun identity and culture through the lens of race and whiteness theory. She uses her knowledge of U.S. imperial history, postcolonial studies, critical race theory, identity politics, and power to advance our understanding of the circumstances, i.e. evolving identity and agency surrounding the relabeling of Acadian people to Cajun. She earned a M.A. in History from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Before beginning her graduate work at UTEP, she earned a B.A. in American Studies with a minor in African American Studies at UTSA and a B.S. in Biology from Southeastern Louisiana University. Borderlands History Blog
Eric is a second-year Ph.D. student born in El Paso, Texas and raised between the U.S.-Mexico borderlands of Juarez, Chihuahua. He obtained his B.A. in History, B.A. in Psychology, and M.A. in Philosophy at the University of Texas at El Paso. His current research interests focuses on how individual and group agency is historically informed, produced, and challenged via cultural expressions and artifacts such as graffiti within border cities in the 20th century. Chavez’s methodological approaches are inspired by a constellation of borderlands history, intellectual and social history, Latin American history, critical theory, phenomenology, and philosophy of liberation.
Alejandro Garcia holds multiple degrees from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) including an M.A. in History, a B.A. in Multidisciplinary Studies, and another B.A. in Anthropology. Currently he is pursuing a Ph.D. Borderlands History and researching the ongoing process of constitutional recognition for afro-descendant communities in Mexico by defining cultural difference through music and other cultural expressions. Alejandro has served as a guest lecturer, curator, assistant curator, and as a researcher for exhibits at The American Museum of Natural History in New York, The History Museum of El Paso, and the Centennial Museum at UTEP.
Sarita Garcia is a PhD student in Borderlands History at the University of Texas-El Paso. Born and raised in Laredo, Texas, Sarita earned her B.A. in History with a minor in Criminology from Texas A&M University-Kingsville. She then went on to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she earned an M.A. in History and a certificate in Digital Humanities. Sarita’s research focuses on policing in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, as well as detainment policies and practices, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. At UTEP, she seeks to incorporate local sources and microhistories to better understand the individual impact of legally constructed borderlands. Sarita’s interests also include gender, race, citizenship, and carceral studies.
Fior Daliso García Lara
Fior Daliso García Lara is a student and a Teaching Assistant in the Ph.D. Borderlands History program at the University of Texas, El Paso. In June, 2015, Fior received her M.A from State University of New York at Buffalo with her dissertation “The Importance of the Darien Indigenous Peoples for Illegal Trade during the First Half of the Eighteenth Century.” Her current research interests are Cross-border dynamics and colonial construction of the frontier; Forced Migration and its impact in indigenous communities in Latin America and Caribbean societies; and Transnational and postcolonial studies.
Melissa Hutson, born and raised in El Paso, TX, received her BA in History at the University of Texas at Austin. She continued her education at the University of Texas at Austin’s Graduate School of Information where she specialized in Digital Media and Information. Hutson is currently pursuing her Ph.D. with an emphasis on border history, Mexican film history, and the history of theaters along the U.S./Mexico border. She currently serves on the board of the El Paso County Historical Society, and her extracurricular work includes assisting nonprofits, museums, and other organizations with exhibits, research, and their digital presence.
Diana Lopez was born in El Paso, Texas, raised in Ciudad Juarez and Sunland Park, New Mexico. Diana received BA degrees in Psychology, Spanish, and Gender and Sexuality Studies from New Mexico State University where she studied gender(ed) migrations, queer theory, feminicidios, feminist methodologies, and the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border. She earned an M.S. in Mexican American Studies from the University of Arizona. Her graduate thesis, “Identity Building in Militarized U-S Mexico Border Colonias: Testimonios of Women of Color Resisting Militarization,” focused on building the existing literature of testimonios of women of color, specifically as it relates to identity formations informed by the hyper-militarization of Sunland Park, New Mexico. Her current research interests include transnational feminisms, globalization, settler colonialism and forced migrations.
I am a PhD candidate in Borderlands history. I received my BA in history at The University of Texas at El Paso. Born and raised in Decatur, IL, and spent several years in St. Louis and San Francisco before moving to El Paso in 2016. The focus for my research will be on modern civil rights and African American history combined with migration within the cultural and geographic borders of the United States. In my free time, I am also a performing musician and songwriter of many years.
Angelina Martínez received her BA in History and Literature, and an MA in History from UTEP. Her dissertation explores public school desegregation along the U.S.-Mexico border and the Mexican American condition in secondary education. Angelina works with the UTEP Institute of Oral History, she curated a museum exhibit titled “La Frontera: A Century of Resistance and Adaptation,” and she was a National Trust for Historic Preservation Latino Heritage Preservation Research Intern. She is the recipient of the Dr. John H. McNeely Graduate Student Oral History Award and a Special Dissertation Research Grant from the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library.
I am originally from Escondido, California. I received my BA in History with a minor in Writing from the University of California, Merced. I then received my MA in History from California State University, Stanislaus. My research interest focuses on gender and race studies such as Mexican and Chicana women in the United States during the 20th century. More specifically, I study how women have contributed to the Chicano Movement and to the US’ agricultural economy mainly in the southwest.
Pablo Martinez Coronado
Pablo Martinez Coronado. Born in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. Earn his B.A in History in the Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juarez (UACJ), and his M.A at UTEP. He has worked as professor of Mexico’s and World’s History courses for several Middle and High Schools in Juarez. In addition, he is the coeditor of the digital magazine alLimite, which is specialized in journalism, literature and politics. In 2019, he received the “Voces al Sol” award (UACJ) with the book entitled “Postales” (Co-author).
Rocío Irene Mejía García
Rocío Irene Mejía García has a Master’s degree in Hispanic Literature and a Specialization Certificate in Women Studies from El Colegio de México in Mexico City. She also has an M.A. in Latin American and Border Studies from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). She has taught at Mexican universities including the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Rocío is a long-time feminist activist with research interests in Cultural Studies, Gender, Literature, and their ties to History and historical processes. She has published articles, book chapters, and handbooks on gender violence, sexuality, and youth.
José Miguel Chávez Leyva
José Miguel Chávez Leyva is a PhD student at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), with major fields in Borderlands and Latin American History. He grew up throughout the Southwest, and carries a deep passion for the region. He holds a BA in Anthropology and an MA in History, both from UTEP, and is also currently enrolled in the Master's of Professional Science program. Leyva’s methodology combines the practices of Ethnohistory and Environmental History, with his dissertation research focusing on the Rarámuri of northern México. He is also completing a minor field in Public History, and has acquired diverse experiences with oral histories, museology, and digital history.
Marc Molina is a PhD Student in the Borderlands History program at the University of Texas at El Paso. He received his BA in History at Texas A&M University – San Antonio with a minor in Mexican American/Latinx/Southwest Borderlands Studies where he completed research concerning the evolution of African American music traditions in Bexar County. Marc is currently interested in environmental history topics in 18th and 19th century Texas; particularly the ways in which food and agriculture inform our understanding of culture, society, and identity in the Texas Borderlands.
Raúl Isaí Muñoz
Raúl Isaí Muñoz earned his AA in History from Palo Alto College in San Antonio, his B.A. in History from the University of Northern Iowa, and his M.A. in History from the University of Texas at El Paso. His scholarly interest include immigration, identity formation, labor, race, and transnational cultural and economic interactions between the U.S. and Mexico. His dissertation research examines negative impact that ascribing to a white racial identity had on ethnic Mexicans between 1900 and 1940 by analyzing immigration, school segregation, voting restrictions, and housing segregation in the city of El Paso. Raúl Isaí Muñoz is currently an Associate Professor in History at Lone Star College- CyFair. Dissertation Title: Negotiating Race: Ethnic Mexicans and a White Racial Identity 1900-1940
I was born in Western Mass and raised in Western Wisconsin. I received a Bachelor of Arts in European History from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and currently working on a PhD in Colonial Latin American and Borderlands History. My research focuses on commodities and exchange in the context of the colonial Californias and broader Spanish Pacific.
Augusto Rocha Ramírez
Augusto Rocha Ramírez is originally from Mexico and more recently from California where he earned a B.A. and M.A degrees from California State University. Augusto continued graduate training at the University of Notre Dame, where he was part of the Kellogg Institute’s on-campus community. Augusto’s volunteer work with immigrant communities and homeless animals influences his education and intellectual pursuits. At UTEP, Augusto studies Latin American history. His main interests include the history of Mexico during the Cold War.
Jecoa Ross is a PhD student specializing in Borderlands and U.S. history, with a third field concentration in the history of psychiatry and empire. He earned both his B.A. and M.A. in history from UTEP in 2013 and 2016 respectively, receiving the College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Undergraduate Thesis and Outstanding Master’s Thesis awards. Employing feminist and queer theory as well as a critical legal studies lens, Jecoa’s dissertation explores the creation, enforcement, and adjudication of the 1943 Texas sodomy statute from its enactment to the creation of the state’s homosexual conduct statute in 1973.
Cynthia’s research focuses on the development of historical memory and heritage tourism in El Paso. Her work explores the ways in which El Pasoans engaged, commemorated, and performed specific versions of the area’s history in the twentieth century. Cynthia holds an M.A. in History with a specialization in Public History from New Mexico State University as well as a B.A. in History with a minor in Secondary Education from UTEP. Working to make history accessible and relevant both in the classroom and the community, Cynthia has organized numerous public history projects in coordination with community organizations while conducting numerous workshops, teach-ins, and community presentations. She served as co-chair for former Texas Senator Jose Rodriguez’s Heritage Tourism Advisory Committee from 2018 to 2020 and worked as the public historian and financial specialist for La Mujer Obrera from 2015 to 2017. Additionally, while completing her doctoral coursework, she was the research assistant for UTEP’s Museo Urbano.
Jaime R. Ruiz
Jaime R. Ruiz is a PhD Candidate in the History Department at UTEP and is writing his dissertation “Modernity, Cronyism, and Revolution: Hydraulic and Sanitary Infrastructure in Chihuahua City during the Porfiriato, 1892-1911.” His research interests include Environmental History of the U.S. – Mexico Borderlands and Mexican, and Latin American History. He has a B.A. in International Relations from the Monterrey Tech, a M.A. in Latin American and Border Studies and a M.A. in Borderlands History from UTEP. He has been working as a lecturer at UTEP and is an adjunct professor at EPCC, and a doctoral fellow of The Humanities Collaborative at EPCC-UTEP (Mellon Foundation).
Originally from Mexico, Maria Schrock graduated from Coachella Valley High School. She attended the College of the Desert in Southern California, the College of the Redwoods, and received her BA in History from Humboldt State University in 2008. In 2010 she received her MA in History from New Mexico State University, and joined the Borderlands Ph.D. program at UTEP later that year. Her dissertation focuses in the study of water issues between Mexico and the United States specifically focusing in the Water Treaty of 1944. Simultaneously she is a full time instructor at El Paso Community College. Maria Schrock is a recipient of the CONACyT and a Mellon Fellowships.
Andrew is a first year PhD student here at the University of Texas- El Paso. He was born in Big Horn Wyoming, spending his formative years at the Brinton Museum surrounded by history and artwork – inspiring his current path. He graduated from the University of Wyoming with a BA in History and minors in Museum Studies and the Honors Program. In undergraduate work, he researched the social and cultural interaction’s in Latin America during the Good Neighbor Era. Now his research interests lie in applying previous attempts at social, labor and revolutionary history to the complex interactions in the Borderlands.
Benjamin Olson Shultz
I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in History from California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo and my Master’s Degree in Social Sciences and Globalization at California State University San Bernardino. My Master’s Thesis focuses on Settler Colonialism in Southern California, its connection to modernization, and the oppression of Native Americans, Mexicans, and Settlers living within the region. At UTEP I wish to expand this framework to the American Southwest, as well as the connection between colonization and industrialization in general. My main historical interest areas are focused regionally in the United States and Latin America.
Born and raised in Mexico, Kimberly earned a BA in History from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and an MA in Archaeology from El Colegio de Michoacán. Her research focuses on both space and discourse analysis at the intersection of archaeological and historical fields. She is currently working on analyzing indigenous and Spanish perceptions through a phenomenological lens of the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, a space discursively created during the sixteenth century and experienced in many different ways in daily basis.
RaeAnn Swanson-Evans received an MA in Public History from the University of Norther Iowa. After joining the PhD Program at UTEP in 2015, her research has focused on migration and detention, U.S.-Latin America relations, human rights, and environmental history. RaeAnn roots her research in transnational and public history to study circular flows of people, goods, and ideas across borders and utilizes oral histories. Alongside Thomas Kessler of the Postville Project, RaeAnn crafted the Community Voices: Postville Oral History Project, which formed the basis of her thesis titled “God Will Deliver Us”: Human Rights Abuses from Guatemala to Iowa and Back, 1980-2014.”
Laura Uribarri is a doctoral candidate in the Borderlands history program at the University of Texas at El Paso. Her research interests lie in the intersections of political jurisdictions, environmental resources, and economic interdependencies. She is working on her dissertation titled: “Transboundary Air Quality Governance: A Case Study of the Paso del Norte Air Basin 1940-2000.” Laura currently serves as assistant dean in the College of Business Administration. Her previous career was in public policy and government relations. Laura holds a BA in International Relations from Stanford University, a Master of Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Master of Arts in History from the University of Texas at El Paso.
Juan Carlos Varela
Juan Carlos Varela is a doctoral student in Borderlands History at the University of Texas-El Paso under the advisement of Dr. Sandra McGee Deutsch. His research interests include early twentieth-century Central America, imperialism, and examining how borderlands affect state sovereignty. In addition to pursuing his PhD, Varela has worked with different organizations in continuing to preserve local history.
Shawn M. Warswick has a BA in history, an M.Ed. in Education Administration and an MA in US-Mexico Borderlands history from the University of Texas-El Paso. Currently a Ph.D student, his research focuses on militarization and imperialism in the nineteenth and twentieth century American west. Currently I am a high school teacher at Mission Early College High School in the Socorro Independent School District. Papers Presented: "Desert Stronghold: The Post Across from El Paso, American Empire and the Militarization of the U.S.-Mexican Border: 1848-1850." -PCB of the AHA Annual Conference, August 2018.