East of East: Mapping Community Narratives

Transforming the Archive
As a historian of migrantion I am in a position to think critically about the relationship between archives and underrepresented communities, especially people without U.S. citizenship
. In addition to searching for migrant agency in U.S. and Mexican archives, I am actively involved in constructing an archive with and for underrepresented working communities of South El Monte and EL Monte. I founded and co-direct South EL Monte Arts Posse’s “East of East: Mapping Community in South El Monte and El Monte,” a public history and archive project that seeks to build a reciprocal relationship among academics and community members and transform how underrepresented communities enter the historical record and think about their own history.

By conducting oral histories with community members, hosting writing workshops with Spanish speaking women at Zumba studios, and digitizing city and family archives we place residents at the center of the production of primary sources. With these new sources we invite journalists, academics, and activists to write 3,000-word essays, which we in turn use to gather more primary sources from community members. In many instances, we then invite our authors to deliver lectures and host conversations at the local high schools, senior centers, non-profit centers, and public libraries. These essays along with creative non-fiction pieces about place by acclaimed writers like Michael Jaime Becerra, Toni Plummer, Alex Espinoza, Carribean Fragoza, and Polo Molares are the basis of our book project. By creating knowledge collectively and building a living archive that is constantly growing, we destabilize the notion that a definitive, static historical narrative exists.

Funding & Support for East of East
To date East of East has received funding Los Angeles City’s Department of Cultural Affairs, National Performance Network, Columbia University’s History in Action (five times), Latino Americans: 500 Years of History and in-kind contributions from local community members and faculty, La Historia Society, Rio Hondo Community College, Columbia’s Oral History Office, UCLA’s Oral History Office and Public History Program, South El Monte High School, and the city of South El Monte and El Monte.

Valley Public history initiative, Fresno State

Founder & Director

Fresno State's Valley Public History Initiative seeks to uncover the lost history of the Central Valley, build reciprocal relationships between academics and the public, provide opportunities for everyone to experience history in unique and innovative ways, and to train future public historians.

Our public history and archive projects seeks to radically alter the relationship between academia and the general public by creating a new model for how archives are created and how historical knowledge is disseminated. VPHI also seeks to showcase new and exciting public history projects, ones which provide unique ways of experiencing and thinking about history. In the winter of 2017, VPHI hosted the official book launch for Tim Hernandez’s documentary novel All They Will Call You, which brought to live the lost history of the plane crash at Los Gatos. In the Spring, Diego Flores Magón, the great grandson of Mexican Revolutionary Enrique Flores Magón, discussed how La Casa de El Hijo Del Ahuizote in Mexico City is using the archive (both documents and the space) to create new interdisciplinary modes to engage political, social, and economic issues relevant to both Mexico and the United States.

Undergraduate and graduate students at Fresno State have the opportunity to take oral history and public history courses with Dr. Guzmán and to become public history fellows and public history interns. In these various roles, Fresno State students conduct oral histories, build digital archives, lead walking tours, produce short videos, write and publish short essays for online publications, and document family and local histories. 

VPHI is currently running two public history projects. "Straight Outta Fresno," co-directed by UCR Phd candidate and Fresno State adjunct Sean Slusser and Dr. Guzmán, and "The Other Football: Tracing the Game's Roots and Routes in the San Joaquin Valley." For more on these projects visit Tropics of Meta. 


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