AHA Member Spotlight: María de los Ángeles Picone
María de los Ángeles Picone is an assistant professor of history at Boston College. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts, and has been a member since 2017.
X (formerly Twitter): @mapicone
Alma maters: Licenciatura, Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, 2012; MA, Emory University, 2016; PhD, Emory University, 2019
Fields of interest: environmental, spatial, Latin America, nation-making
Describe your career path. What led you to where you are today?
If you look at my CV, it looks like my trajectory is very tidy. But CVs often conceal the long path between those checkpoints. For me, it was the mentors in different capacities that truly fueled my curiosity and encouraged me to do the next thing by asking, “What if you did/read/wrote . . . ?” A piece of advice I received on my first history class in my first year was that research and teaching go hand in hand. This was the seed of how I later developed my research interests and my teaching philosophy.
When I applied for PhD programs, I was curious about spatial history and I wanted to break away from Argentine narratives centered in Buenos Aires. But it was truly the apt interventions from mentors that really helped me polish my research questions. In hindsight, I can say that I grew up learning the history of my hometown, in the northern Patagonian Andes, only as it pertained to Argentine political centers, completely disregarding its historic relationship with Chile, only 40 miles away. This personal experience moved me to ask about cross-border relationships that underpinned or contested nation-making.
I moved to the US in 2013 to start a PhD and that was also the first time I visited the US. I was lucky to land in a vibrant city—Atlanta—and a supportive department at Emory University. At Emory I learned to articulate my ideas that made sense in my head and I also explored other areas of interest I had never heard before, like digital humanities.
After finishing my PhD, I moved to my current position in Boston College, a place where I have continued to strengthen that symbiotic relationship between research and teaching.
What do you like the most about where you live and work?
Greater Boston offers an eclectic cultural scene rooted in its history but also in innovative drive. Since the easing of pandemic restrictions, I was able to explore more Massachusetts hiking trails (as close as my backyard) and have even taken up some quintessential New England sports! I also look forward to Boston being a host city for the World Cup in 2026!
What projects are you currently working on?
I am currently editing my book manuscript, tentatively titled Landscaping Patagonia: Spatial History, Nation, and the Environment in Chile and Argentina (though it’s likely to change!). It examines how explorers, migrants, authorities, and visitors constructed their versions of “Chile” and “Argentina” in the Northern Patagonian Andes. I argue that between the 1890s and 1940s, these groups created shared versions of nationhood through regional, often cross-border, interpretations and transformations of the natural environment.
Have your interests evolved since graduation? If so, how?
I think my interests have evolved in the sense that they are more clear to me now than four years ago. It is as if I gained a third dimension to what used to be pretty flat.
What’s the most fascinating thing you’ve ever found at the archives or while doing research?
A 1890s narrative of a crossing of the Andes in Patagonia after a volcano had erupted and covered all the fields with ash. This volcano is still active today.
Is there an article, book, movie, blog etc. that you could recommend to fellow AHA members?
I would recommend the podcast Teaching in Higher Ed. I have been listening for years and learn so much! It is full of excellent conversations and great resources (don’t miss the “recommendations” section).
What do you value most about the history discipline?
In general, that it offers lessons of hope. In particular about Latin American history, that it offers a diverse approach to major themes that are of interest to historians of other geographies.
Do you have a favorite AHA annual meeting anecdote you would like to share?
In New Orleans 2021, very few people ended up going but I spent most of my time running into colleagues and catching up with them. It really speaks to the community we have created and work to sustain.
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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