Priscilla Marie Martinez

TitlePh.D. Candidate in U.S. History,
Grad. Rep. for History Department, Winter 2017,
Teaching Assistant for HIS 10B: Age of Progress (Winter 2017)
DivisionHumanities Division
DepartmentHistory Department
OfficeHumanities 1, 115, Office A
Office HoursTuesdays, 3:30-4:40 p.m. (Winter 2017)
Campus Mail StopHistory Department
Priscilla Marie Martinez

Research Interests

  • Borderlands, Border-making Processes, Transnationalism, and Maritime Borders

  • Indigenous Studies, Indigeneity, Indigenismo, and Mestizaje in the Western-Pacific Borderlands

  • Asian Diaspora Studies in the Trans-Pacific Borderlands

  • Belonging, Citizenship, Statelessness, Migration, and Nationalism withing the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands both landed and littoral

  • Long-Nineteenth-Century North American History, Late-imperial to Early-national Transitions

  • Chicana/o History, Latina/o American History, Social and Ethnic History

  • Oral History, Memory and Community, Alternative Ways of Knowing

Working Title of Dissertation: "By Land and by Sea: Indigeneity, Mestizaje, and Nationalism at the Western-Pacific Borderlands from 1824-1934."


This study, “By Land and by Sea: Indigeneity, Mestizaje, and Nationalism at the Western-Pacific Borderlands from 1824-1934,” examines the intersections of early-nineteenth-century racial exclusion with early-twentieth-century articulations of nationalism in the United States and Mexico. This region refers to the landed and maritime spaces that include San Diego, California, Tucson, Arizona, and Hermosillo, Sonora, and the Guaymas littoral and Baja California peninsula, whose arid landscape proved challenging to the Spanish colonial project and later the Mexican and American national projects. The primordial movements and customs of semi-nomadic indigenous peoples made it difficult for colonial and national bodies to incorporate the region and its peoples as subjects. This project seeks to understand how Indigenous responses to non-native settlement in the Western-Pacific borderlands modified the Spanish imperial project in ways that dictated Mexico’s national project and, by extension, the United States. The early-nineteenth century represented a critical moment when the nascent Mexican Republic struggled to restructure itself after three hundred years of Spanish imperial rule in ways that embraced racial hybridity as quintessentially Mexican. While Mexico’s dedication to a multiethnic national body seemed a drastic pivot from its colonial past, in practice it still hinged on ingrained colonial forms that equated whiteness with power and privilege. At the same moment, the United States found itself in search of territorial holdings in the elusive West that challenged American ideas of race and sovereignty in its pre-imperial period. Where the Mexican state used the discourse of assimilation to erase and dispossess native peoples, the United States utilized the explicit language of racial exclusion to establish strict hierarchies that placed indigenous lifeways in direct opposition to Anglo civilization.   In the mid- to late-nineteenth century as the United States and the Mexico strove to colonize the Pacific West to secure territory and a gateway to new markets, a complex borderland region was created that in the struggle for incorporation necessitated not only a redefinition of physical borders, but also borders of social belonging.


While scholars have cast U.S.-Mexico borderland encounters between Mexicans and Americans that assumes a homogenous national identity in the wake of the U.S.-Mexico War, I argue that the uneven transimperial and transnational incorporation of regions like the Californias prompted different notions of local belonging and realities of citizenship for indigenous peoples, Mexicans, Chinese, and Anglo Americans living within the Western-Pacific borderlands. Both the Mexican Republic and the United States sought to integrate the Western Pacific in ways that fundamentally restructured indigenous social bodies, local kinship networks, and the daily lives of borderland peoples caught between contending sovereigns.  With this understanding, this study seeks to answer three central questions: First, how did racialized and spatial understandings of sovereignty manifested in the heavily-contested peripheral regions of the Californias where social, landed, and littoral boundaries between contending sovereigns (indigenous, Mexico, United States) remained literally and figuratively fluid well into the twentieth century? Second, how was it that two nations that envisioned two radically different racial projects in the nineteenth century ended up with nearly identical state policies regarding the regulation and restriction of (indigenous) citizenship by the early-twentieth century? Finally, how did local, regional, and national understandings of sovereignty, belonging, and indigeneity elucidate disjunctures in federal regulations of citizenship? This project posits that the United States and Mexico’s racial projects of the late-nineteenth to early-twentieth centuries showed linkages between spatial disputes over landed and maritime territories among contending sovereigns and the colonization campaigns undertaken by both nations that hinged on the problem of indigenous incorporation into modern nation-states. Furthermore, an examination of local understandings of space and environment can illuminate the ambiguity of state control and capture the complexities of everyday tensions in the Western-Pacific borderlands in a way that redirects our attention to the intricacies of identity formation often obscured under assumed homogeneous national identities. By insisting on an indigenous-centered history, these uncomplicated assumptions about the complexities of national identities will continue to displace native communities, erase indigenous claims to sovereignty, and undermine present-day indigenous decolonization efforts that seek basic individual and communal human rights.


Dissertation Advisor/Chair of Dissertation Committee: Dr. Grace Peña Delgado (History)

Other Dissertation Reading Committee Members: Dr. Catherine Jones (History), Dr. Amy Lonetree (History), and Dr. Gabriela Arredondo (LALS)

Biography, Education and Training



Ph.D. Candidate in U.S. History, advanced to candidacy with Distinction (2016), with a designated emphasis in Latin American, Latino Studies 

M.A. in American Studies, Baylor University, Waco, TX (2013)

          Thesis: "Here We Remain: The Legacy of El Movimiento in Cryatal City, Texas."

B.A. in History, with minors in Political Science and World Affairs, Baylor University, Waco, TX (2011)


Professional Experience:

  • Teaching Assistant, University of California, Santa Cruz (2013 - Present)

  • Graduate Assistant, Editor, and Auditor, Institute for Oral History, Baylor University (2011-2013)

  • Processing Technician and Transcriptionist, Institute for Oral History, Baylor University (2010-2011)



  • Received a Designated Emphasis in Latin American, Latino Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz (2016)

  • Trained as an Oral Historian by the Institute for Oral History at Baylor University, Waco, TX, (2010-2013) and the Southern Oral History Program at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (2011). 

Honors, Awards and Grants

UCSC Teaching Assistant Fellowship (2013-Present)

UCSC Summer Research Fellowship (2016)

UCSC Conference Travel Grant (2016)

UCSC Summer Research Fellowship (2015)

UCSC Regent's Fellowship (2014)

UCSC Non-Resident Tuition Fellowship (2013-2014)

Oral History Association Conference Scholarship, Graduate Student Awardee (2013)

Baylor University Institute for Oral History Graduate Student Fellowship (2011-2013)

Oral History Association Conference Scholarship, Graduate Student Awardee (2012)

Baylor University Graduate Student Travel Grant Awardee (2011-2013)

Hudson E. Long Fellowship (2011-2013)

NEH Graduate Student Researcher Fellowship for "Breaking New Ground" Oral History Project (2011)

Selected Presentations

Conference Papers:

"Reading across Borders: Contextualizing Indigenismo within Pacific-West U.S.-Mexico Borderlands Scholarship," presented at the University of California, Davis, 2016 Graduate History Conference: "Historians Without Borders, History Without Limits" on 9 April 2016 in Davis, California. 

"'Why just them? We were beautiful too.': Crafting Identity and Constructing Community in Crystal City, Texas," presented at the National Oral History Association 2013 Annual Conference on 12 October 2013 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

"Remembering and Reflecting: Crystal City and the Chicano Civil Rights Movement," presented at the Texas Oral History Association 2013 Annual Conference on 25 April 2013 in San Marcos, Texas. 

"Here We Remain: The Legacy of El Movimiento in Crystal City, Texas," presented at the National Oral History Association 2012 Annual Conference on 12 October 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. 

"The Illusion of American Traditional Life: A Look at Flawed Americanism through the Films of the Early Cold War Era, 1948-1960," presented at the Phi Alpha Theta Northeast Texas Regional Conference on 14 April 2012 in Commerce, Texas. 

Guest Lectures/ Guest Speaking:

"Writing for History," Lecture, HIS 110B: U.S. from 1877 to the Present, Santa Cruz, CA, 3 August 2016.

"Comparative Indigenismos in the United States and Mexico," Lecture, HIS 9: Introduction to Native American History, Santa Cruz, CA, 26 May 2016.

"Undergraduate Information Session on Graduate Education in History and Related Fields," Panel, UCSC Department of History Graduate School Workshop, Santa Cruz, CA, 27 April 2016. 

"Writing for History: Argumentation and Evidence," Guest Speaker, HIS 40B: Modern East Asia, Santa Cruz, CA, 10 February 2016. 

"The Many Faces of the Chicano Movement," Guest Speaker, Orale! MECHA Student Orientation, Santa Cruz, CA, 11 April 2015.

"The U.S.-Mexico War and the Negotiations of Belonging," Lecture, HIS 12: Introduction to Latina/o History, Santa Cruz, CA, 15 April 2014.

 "The Early-Chicano Movement and the East L.A. Blowouts," Lecture, HIS 128: Chicana/o History, Santa Cruz, CA, 8 Novemeber 2013. 



Selected Recordings

Oral History Projects:

"Here We Remain: The Legacy of El Movimiento in Cryatal City, Texas" Oral History Project housed at Baylor University's Institute for Oral History (2012-2013)


"Breaking New Ground" Oral History Project co-housed at the Souther Oral History Program at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Baylor University's Institute for Oral History (2011)

Teaching Interests

Teaching (TA) Experience:

  • HIS 10B: Age of Progress (Winter 2017)

  • HIS 100: Historical Research and Methods (Fall 2016)

  • HIS 110B: U.S. from 1877 to the Present (Summer 2016)

  • HIS 9: Introduction to Native American History (Spring 2016)

  • HIS 40B: Modern East Asia (Winter 2016)

  • HIS 110D: Civil War and Reconstruction (Fall 2015)

  • HIS 134B: Colonial Mexico (Summer 2015)

  • HIS 134A: Colonial Mexico (Spring 2015)

  • HIS 11A: Colonial Latin America (Winter 2015)

  • HIS 110C: American Capitalism (Fall 2014)

  • HIS 12: Introduction to Latina/o American History (Spring 2014)

  • HIS 128: Chicana/o History (Fall 2013)