AHA Member Spotlight: Phillip B. Gonzales
Phillip B. Gonzales is a professor emeritus in sociology at the University of New Mexico. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and has been a member since 2014.
Alma maters: BA, University of New Mexico, 1973; MA, University of California, Berkeley, 1976; PhD, University of California, Berkeley, 1988
Fields of interest: race/ethnicity, Mexican Americans, social movements, symbolic interaction
Describe your career path. What led you to where you are today?
While a graduate student at UC Berkeley, I discovered an incident that erupted in 1933 in New Mexico, in which Mexican Americans, who identified themselves as “Spanish-Americans” launched a major, statewide protest against the University of New Mexico (UNM). Documenting and analyzing the Racial Attitude Confrontation of 1933 put me on a path of becoming an historical sociologist. The bulk of the remainder of my research involved history in one form or another.
What do you like the most about where you live and work?
So much of my work has involved the political and identity experiences of Mexican Americans in New Mexico and the Southwest, my having recognized important historical questions that no one else was addressing. Being at UNM has given me easy access to a rich supply of archival materials and helped sustain a long career in historical sociology.
What projects are you currently working on?
On an Advanced Seminar grant from the School of Advanced Research, a colleague and I pulled together ten scholars to address “The Shifting Terrain of Citizenship among People of Mexican Descent in the United States.” The anthology will make contributions to the experience of Latinx under the Trump administration.
Have your interests evolved since graduation? If so, how?
I have gone back in time. My last book journeyed to the early 19th century to visit the Nuevomexicano/as who went from the Republic of Mexico to the United States.
What’s the most fascinating thing you’ve ever found at the archives or while doing research?
Nuevomexicanos controlled the territorial politics of New Mexico, 1853-1905, working US republican government in Spanish.
Is there an article, book, movie, blog etc. that you could recommend to fellow AHA members?
Política: Nuevomexicanos and American Political Incorporation, 1820-1910.
What do you value most about the history discipline?
Seeing the extent to which our social lives are tied to the experiences of those who came before us.
Why is membership in the AHA important to you?
Realizing the intellectual creativity across a wide range of interests.
Do you have a favorite AHA annual meeting anecdote you would like to share?
Colleagues, visiting the press table advertising my book, said it was so fat the airline would lay an extra baggage charge.
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, Perspectives Daily features a regular AHA Member Spotlight series.
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