Publication Date

July 31, 2015

Perspectives Section

Member Spotlight, Perspectives Daily

AHA members are involved in all fields of history, with wide-ranging specializations, interests, and areas of employment. To recognize our talented and eclectic membership, AHA Today features a regular AHA Member Spotlight series.

Nichole Sanders is an associate professor and the director of graduate studies in history at Lynchburg College. She lives in Lynchburg, Virginia, and has been a member since 2003.Sanders_Photo

Alma matersBA, University of Texas at Austin, 1992; MA, Texas State University, San Marcos, 1996; PhD, University of California, Irvine, 2003

Fields of interestLatin America, Mexico, women’s and gender history.

When did you first develop an interest in history?

I first became interested in Mexican history after a month-long summer student exchange in high school. I traveled with other American high school students through Mexico, and then hosted a Mexican student in my home in the US for a month. I am still friends with that woman. The friendship, along with the other experiences I had that month, sparked my interest in Mexican culture and history, although as a child, I had always loved going to historic sites and museums.

What projects are you working on currently?

My first book looked at the relationship between gender and the creation of the welfare state in mid-20th-century Mexico. Mothers were key to social welfare programming in Mexico in the 1940s and 1950s. My next project will expand the focus and look at how discourses surrounding motherhood, particularly debates on the political left and right about motherhood and consumption reflected changing notions of what it meant to be Mexican. In both projects I am interested in unraveling the relationships between gender, state formation, political legitimacy, and economic development. I am also working on an article about Catholic women’s participation in morality campaigns in 1950s Mexico City.

Have your interests changed since graduation? If so, how?

One great thing about teaching at a small college is that you have to learn a lot outside your field. While my research interests have remained fairly consistent, I have had a lot of fun teaching classes that fall outside my specialization, such as World Civilizations—in particular the first half of the survey.

Is there an article, book, movie, blog etc. that you could recommend to fellow AHA members?

There is so much great work coming out on Mexican history, as well as Latin American history, that it is hard to keep up. Too much good stuff to recommend one thing.

What do you value most about the history profession?

 I love the fact that history is, by its nature, interdisciplinary. Creative use of sources is one of the discipline’s strengths, as well as the rich variety of sources that historians use to tell the past’s story.

Why did you join the AHA?

 Initially, I joined in order to interview! But I have remained a member because I enjoy being able to use the recourses on the website—particularly teaching resources. I also like being able to ask questions of fellow MA directors.

Do you have a favorite AHA annual meeting anecdote you would like to share?

No, but the AHA is always great fun because the Conference on Latin American History meets concurrently. There are always a lot of great panels and opportunities to visit with colleagues I rarely get to see.

Other than history, what are you passionate about?

Reading fiction and travel. Family.

This post first appeared on AHA Today.

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