June 29, 2012

Casual Friday

Photo by Quincy D. Newell

I drove to Klamath Falls, Oregon, two weeks ago. Along OR-58, we saw this building. If it's too small to read on your computer, the sign says: 1910/INDIAN SHAKER CHURCH/CHILOQUIN, OREGON. Chiloquin is where the tribal government of the Klamath Tribes is based. Here is a photo of the altar inside the church.

Got a photo, link, or other item that you think would be great for Casual Friday? Send it to us!

June 25, 2012

The Religion in the American West Syllabus Project (an occasional series)

Part III: The Denouement and the Cliffhanger

By Quincy D. Newell

Well, my syllabus is turned in. Along with Joshua Paddison’s syllabus on Religion in the Nineteenth-Century American West, my syllabus will soon be posted online for all the world to see. (I’ll add the direct links here as soon as they are available, but for now, here’s the Young Scholars website with syllabi from previous cohorts.) That doesn’t mean this syllabus won’t see further revisions before it lands in my students’ hands, of course, but for now, it is finished.

I’ve refined the learning outcomes for the course (which I wrote about in the first installment of this series), and I’m pretty happy with them at this point (and I’m grateful to Tisa Wenger and John Charles Duffy for their comments on my first draft). As they are stated in my syllabus, by the end of the course, students will:

1. Synthesize the religious history of the American West by identifying key figures, groups, ideas, and events and explaining the connections between them.
2. Evaluate how the physical, social, and cultural environments of the West have affected the presence and practice of religion, and vice versa.
3. Recognize and analyze manifestations of religion that do not fit dominant institutional models.

Last time I wrote, I was uncertain about the digital project that I was thinking about using as a tool to both achieve and assess outcome #1. After much hemming and hawing, I have decided to run with it. If it works, it will be great; if it doesn’t work, I think it will still be a learning experience (for both the students and me), and I think even then I can keep the frustration levels to a minimum for all involved.

My hope is that future students in this course will be able to build on the website that this year’s students create, critiquing and revising it as they see fit. I think that this strategy will allow me to include more material in future iterations of the course, while still concluding with a synthetic, web-based component. Experience suggests that asking students to critique other students’ work, and asking them to create something in the knowledge that it will be critiqued by future students, will give them a sense of having more of a stake in what they create – more “skin in the game,” as it were.

My next goal is to write good paper prompts for my students’ first three papers. I’m putting this task off for a while – there are many other things to do this summer, and this class doesn’t start until January. Still, I hope to have the paper prompts in place before the semester starts. And I hope to write prompts that really get at the second and third learning outcomes that I identified for this course, while producing papers that allow students to learn during the writing process. (And, of course, I want them to produce papers that are interesting for me to read!) If anyone out there has ideas about how to write paper prompts like that, please let me know – leave your ideas in the comments!

Perhaps, next spring, I will blog about actually teaching this class – we’ll see. In the meantime, many thanks to those of you who have commented on this series of posts, and thanks in advance to those of you who will comment on this one.

June 22, 2012

Casual Friday: Survey Results!

Today marks the first installment of a new feature on the RAW blog – Casual Friday. We’ll try to post a little something every Friday around noon, Pacific Time: an interesting link, an intriguing image, a timely announcement or a call for papers. Today, for our first ever Casual Friday, we have what you’ve been waiting for: the results from the 2012 RAW Blog Reader Survey!

We had a smaller response rate (sixteen responses) than we had hoped, but we still hope to draw some useful information from these results. And in the meantime, we thought we’d share some of what we learned with you.

First, our readership is geographically well-distributed. We had two respondents each from California, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Utah, and one respondent each from Connecticut, Washington, DC, Florida, Iowa, Montana, New Jersey, and Wisconsin. The prize for most-far-flung respondent definitely goes to the person who’s reading this blog in Papua New Guinea! Now we are proud to claim an international readership!

Over half our respondents are educators in a college or university setting, while just over 30% are students in college or graduate school. As you might expect, most described their academic interests using some combination of the words religion, America, and West, though there were a number of variations, ranging from “religious history” to “cultural history of the American West.” There were also a lot of permutations on these themes: ecology, race, natural history, theology, Mormonism, Mexican Americans, media… We are a diverse bunch indeed.

We were excited to learn that at least one of our respondents found the RAW blog when they saw it in a bibliography of a book they were reviewing. We’d sure like to know what book that was – anyone out there care to tell us? It’s exciting to be cited!

Only a few respondents admitted to having commented on the blog, and the comments about how to motivate people to comment more frequently were revealing: apparently our readers are much more interested in reading than commenting. That’s really helpful for us to know – we’ll stop worrying about the infrequency of comments now. But we’ve also changed things up (you might have noticed) so that you can see the most recent comments in the left-hand sidebar. We’re also going to try to figure out how to simplify the technical process of commenting. With these changes, you’ll be able to get involved in the conversation more easily, should you so choose.

Your answers to the last two questions – what you like, and suggestions for improvement – were heartwarming to those of us in the virtual RAW blog offices. Really, they were so very positive – thanks! We’re glad you appreciate this space and find it a useful resource. One person suggested that we “publicize!” – and we do, a bit, but we’ll keep working on that and we’d like to take a moment to request your help. Please spread the word about this blog to whomever you think might be interested in it. If you have a chance to link to it, or tweet about it, or tell people about it, carpe diem! Help us spread the word.

Mostly, we’d like to thank all of you who took the survey and everyone who has contributed to the blog. One respondent wrote, “I appreciate the collegial feel to the blog that results from the diversity of topics and writers, but perhaps more importantly from the highly suggestive and occasionally experimental posts that appear on it. It really feels like a small, generous community of scholars collaborating on a topic we all enjoy rather than an attempt to carve out some sort of orthodoxy. I appreciate how willing the contributors, editors, and readers are to engage broad definitions of the West and of religion in ways that consistently open up new avenues of inquiry rather than closing them off.”

Wow. That’s really high praise, and we’re honored to be a part of creating such a space. Thanks to everyone who has helped make this happen!

Now, with the cockles of your heart appropriately warmed, have a great first weekend of summer!

June 18, 2012

Jee Gam and Chinese American Religious Activism

By Joshua Paddison

Portrait of Congregationalist Jee Gam, from N. R. Johnston's Looking Back from the Sunset Land, 1898.
A man named Jee Gam appears on the cover of my book American Heathens: Religion, Race, and Reconstruction in California (published this month by the University of California Press and the Huntington Library). Presumably the image was chosen for its graphic impact and for how it puts a human face on the Chinese and Native American “heathens” who were denied citizenship due to their racial and religious identities during the nineteenth century.

However, I also like the use of this image on the cover for another reason: of all the people who appear in the book, Jee Gam is the person I admire most. Outspoken, brave, and dedicated to public activism, he led an inspiring life.

For readers of this blog, he is of particular interest because of what his life reveals about the religious history of the American West. Jee Gam’s story provides evidence of larger historical patterns characteristic of religion in the West: globalism, frequent migration and border-crossings, tremendous religious conflict and change, violent racial prejudice, and faith-based political activism.

Jee Gam traveled from his native China to San Francisco at age 14, arriving in 1863. He made the journey with his uncle, who had recently returned to China from the gold fields of California. Jee Gam and his uncle were tiny parts of an enormous immigration stream from China to the United States that flowed during the mid-nineteenth century. Forbade from naturalizing due to federal law, these immigrants also faced discriminatory state laws that barred them from voting, holding public office, and even testifying in court against whites. This made them extremely vulnerable to exploitation and violence, exemplified by the murder of 18 Chinese immigrants by a white mob in Los Angeles in 1871.

Still a teenager, Jee Gam found work as a servant in the house of George and Sarah Mooar. George Mooar was a Congregationalist minister and in his household Jee Gam converted to Christianity, soon becoming a colporteur and missionary among Chinese Californians. He joined the First Congregationalist Church in Oakland in 1870 and often worked as a court interpreter. Eventually in 1895 Jee Gam became the first Chinese American ordained as a Congregationalist minister, though he was still unable to become a U.S. citizen.

Illustration of Jee Gam, from the San Francisco Chronicle, September 20, 1895.
From the very beginning, Jee Gam used his influence and access to Protestant resources (newspapers, journals, mission boards, church networks) to fight for Chinese American political rights. In speeches, sermons, private letters, and public writings, he championed Chinese American suffrage and combated Chinese exclusion, passed in 1882 by the federal government. Historians such as Charles McClain and Mae Ngai have shown how Chinese immigrants in the U.S. challenged discriminatory laws via the court system, but the religious activism of Jee Gam and other Chinese Protestants has received virtually no attention.

Jee Gam based his arguments for political rights on a vision of Christianity that emphasized egalitarianism and universal brotherhood. In an era when many Americans believed that the Chinese were too heathenish to genuinely convert to Christianity, Jee Gam insisted on the religion’s inclusivity. “I am a Chinaman and a Christian,” he wrote in 1892. “I am not any less Chinese for being a follower of Christ…. I am in some sense also an American, for I have lived in America almost twice as long as in China.” He went on to call Chinese exclusion “un-American, barbarous and inhuman. It is unchristian, for it is contrary to the teaching of Christ.”

His work on behalf of Chinese immigrants extended beyond California. In 1879, on the eve of exclusion, he embarked on a tour that took him to Chicago, New York City, and Lowell, Massachusetts. He told Chicago newspapers about the daily threat of violence that Chinese Californians lived under from white “hoodlums” and called for suffrage and citizenship for the Chinese. Invited by Henry Ward Beecher to speak at Plymouth Church in New York, Jee Gam insisted that there were “about 1,000 Christian Chinamen in California.” He offered their lives—and his own—as evidence of the efficacy of mission work and the need to maintain open national borders.

Unlike many nineteenth-century Protestant defenders of the Chinese, Jee Gam resisted the temptation to demonize Catholics or other racialized groups. “Can every man have this faith, be he white, black, red or yellow?” he preached in 1880. “Yes. The beggar can have it as well as the king. The poor can have it as well as the rich; and the negro, the Indian and the Chinaman.” This sort of interracial, universalist rhetoric was becoming more and more scarce nationwide in the years following the end of Southern Reconstruction.

Jee Gam married a Chinese woman in 1871 and they had ten children, several of whom attended the University of California, Berkeley. In 1910, just past the age of 60, he decided to retire to China but died on the steamer en route. Chinese immigrants finally received the right to become U.S. citizens in 1943.

What would Jee Gam think of being on the cover of my book, I wonder? I suspect his first response would be surprise, given the hostility and prejudice he encountered during his own lifetime. However, considering his comfort operating in the public sphere, I don’t think he would object to the attention.

June 14, 2012

CFP: Healing and Religion/Spirituality in the American West

This note from our own Brett Hendrickson recently came across our desk at the virtual editorial offices of the RAW blog. You might be interested, in which case you should get in touch with Brett! --Eds.

Dear Colleagues,

Jennifer K. Seman, PhD candidate in history at SMU, and I invite submissions to participate on a panel at the October 9-13, 2013, Western History Association in Tucson, Arizona (http://www.westernhistoryassociation.org). The topic of the panel, broadly conceived, is healing and religion/spirituality in the American West. Included papers deal with borderlands religious healing and folk saint phenomena. Other papers could look at (but are not limited to) medical missions to the West, faith-based hospitals and care-centers, Native American healthways, healing and religion among Asian immigrants or on the Pacific Rim, Mormon healthcare, Pentecostal healing in the West, etc. Please send an abstract (250 words or less) to Brett Hendrickson, hendribr@lafayette.edu by August 1, 2012.

June 11, 2012

Reflections from the California (Bay Area) Archives

By Tisa Wenger

This academic year I’ve been enjoying the enormous privilege of a sabbatical, and I’ve been hard at work on the research for a book that I’m describing as a cultural history of religious freedom discourse in the twentieth-century United States. In other words I am interested in anybody, anywhere in the country, who was invoking the ideal of religious freedom. The goal is to explore the changing meanings of "religious freedom" across the century, and the cultural and political work that this ideal has performed.

This is anything but a small topic, and at various times I’ve felt overwhelmed at the scope of the research involved. When I spent a week at the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, and described my project to an archivist there, he looked at me like I was quite possibly insane, and said, “Just about everything in our collections would be relevant to you.” Well, yes. One of my methods for locating relevant primary sources was to do keyword searches in Archive Grid and Archive Finder for phrases like “religious freedom” or “religious liberty” and just see what turned up. After almost a week of this I had around forty piles of printed-out finding aids organized by state, and I planned research trips based on which piles were a) the biggest, and b) would provide me with materials representing a wide diversity of religious groups, political perspectives, and geographic regions. To the dismay of my family, who had the crazy idea that they might see more of me than usual during my sabbatical, I’ve ended up doing research this year at archives in Indiana, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, California, Illinois, Tennessee, and of course (since I live here) Connecticut.

Now I admit that this is not exactly a “religion in the American west” topic. But since I’m the person writing this book, westerners and the west will be well represented in it. And since my trip to California was just at the end of May, I thought I’d share with you just a few of my reflections on the sources I managed to gather in a day at the Hoover Institution (Stanford), four mornings at the Graduate Theological Union library (Berkeley), three afternoons at the Bancroft (Berkeley), and one afternoon at the California Historical Society (San Francisco).

One important thread involved new religious movements and the “cult” scare of the 1970s, especially as it played out in California. The GTU has an excellent “vertical files” collection on new religious movements, which includes extensive materials from and about the Church of Scientology and the Unification Church (Moonies). Not surprisingly, given the animus directed against them, both of these groups developed very sophisticated public relations campaigns that appealed, among other things, to the constitutional principle of religious freedom. As their opponents sought in various ways to define their activities outside the bounds of what could be protected under the First Amendment, they worked to place themselves squarely within the protected category of “religion.”

While none of that was a surprise, I did find some unexpected (at least to me) intersections between the NRMs and the other sorts of groups I was pursuing. For example, at the GTU I was also exploring the papers of Richard Boeke, a Unitarian minister in Berkeley during the 1970s and 1980s who was instrumental in reviving the North American chapter of the International Association of Religious Freedom (IARF). This is an organization of Unitarians and other religious liberals, originally founded in Boston in the early twentieth century, which has given me rich insights into how religious freedom appears from the very liberal end of the religious spectrum, Christian and otherwise.

Boeke also ended up being active, along with religious studies scholar J. Gordon Melton and many others, in a group called the Alliance for the Preservation of Religious Liberties (APRL), which was based in Los Angeles but had a very active Northern California chapter. APRL’s primary goal was to combat the persecution of new religious movements, and dedicated much of its energies to public relations against “deprogrammers” hired by some families to get their young adult children away from the “cults.” They also fought legislation that was proposed in California and many other states to specifically legalize deprogramming—some deprogrammers were being convicted under kidnapping laws—when the person targeted was involved in a group that allegedly used “brainwashing” and other coercive tactics. The national APRL president, Dr. Ross Bartlett, was a Baptist minister from Los Angeles whose contributions to APRL newsletters quite clearly reflected the Cold War context of these events. America must allow religious liberty for all, he wrote, and not just for the popular or well-established religions, because to do otherwise would make the United States like the totalitarian and anti-religious Soviet Union. (On the other side of the debate, anti-cult activists represented the Scientologists, etc., as “totalitarians” who forced a conformity of belief—thus violating the religious freedom of their members—and threatened the foundations of a free society.)

The Jonestown tragedy of 1978 inspired a rash of anti-cult publicity (as well as legislation), and occasioned much soul-searching on the part of many of those who had been defending the rights of new religious movements. Even within APRL, the limits of religious freedom were always complex and very much contested. The organization included some Scientologists and Moonies as members—after all they had a stake in the cause—and so regularly faced accusations that it was simply a “front group” for these movements. In the early 1980s, Bartlett visited chapters across the country to ensure this was not the case. After investigating the affiliations of all local APRL leaders, he ultimately forced a “purge” of several regional chapters in order to ensure the national credibility of the organization. Around the same time the IARF sponsored a symposium on “The Limits of Tolerance,” asking under what conditions “tolerance” and inclusivity might become counterproductive and actually undermine the liberal values they wanted to advance. Some of the correspondence around that symposium revealed that part of the impetus for the event was a petition from the Church of Scientology to become a member group of IARF—a request that was promptly denied. Scientology, tainted as it was with a reputation for fraud and coercion, clearly did not fit the IARF’s parameters for an ally in the cause of religious freedom. Even the ACLU (I spent my time at the California Historical Society with the Northern California ACLU papers) went through some soul-searching after Jonestown, as several chapter leaders questioned the wisdom of their support for the People’s Temple during its San Francisco years. And they extended these doubts to the broader question of religious freedom, asking whether and when they should be more selective in advocating for “freedom” for groups that may prove undesirable in various ways.

At the Bancroft I spent much of my time with the “People for the American Way Collection of Conservative Political Ephemera, 1980-2004.” You would be amazed (or maybe you wouldn’t) how many right-wing organizations over the past three decades have employed the words “religious freedom” or “religious liberty” in their names and statements of purpose. This focus on religious liberty sometimes made for strange bedfellows: in the early 1980s, when a number of luminaries from the emerging Christian right went to Washington, D.C. for a march for religious liberty, some were surprised to discover that the march had been mostly organized by the Unification Church—part of a campaign to have its leader, the Reverend Moon, released from prison (he had been convicted of various financial improprieties). While some who had come for the march disavowed any connection with the Moonies, others heartily embraced the cause of Rev. Moon as a legitimate religious freedom issue.

More broadly, the People for the American Way collection helped me understand how the religious right managed to seize ownership of “religious freedom” in American public discourse in the 1980s and into the present. At mid-century a majority of religious freedom talk had come from the coalition of civil libertarians, Jewish organizations, and mainline/liberal Protestants who advocated for the separation of church and state as the primary guarantor of this liberty—an agenda reflected in the Supreme Court’s adjudication of First Amendment cases in that period. (Not at all concealed in much of this advocacy, especially around public-parochial school questions, was a deep and abiding suspicion of Roman Catholicism as a major threat to American liberties.) But in the conservative upswing that began in the 1970s, evangelical leaders asserted a fundamental conflict between religious freedom and the separation of church and state, pushing for things like prayer in the public schools as an issue of religious freedom.

Although there were many factors that played a part in that shift—the cultural and political dynamics of the ongoing Cold War prominent among them—I have started to see the “cult” scare of those decades as one contributing factor. On one hand, the events of Jonestown and the cult controversies contributed to doubts among liberal groups like the ACLU and the IARF about the limits and the utility of religious freedom talk. And on the other, despite the doubts of some evangelical leaders, the Washington march organized by the Moonies contributed to the surge of the new right-wing discourse of religious freedom.

So that sums up some of my more interesting finds in the Bay Area archives. Again, not entirely about the west, but the distinctive religious dynamics of California are essential to these insights. And I’d love to hear thoughts on this work from any readers of this blog.

June 7, 2012

Houston is the West, Right?

The Houston skyline, via Robert Agresta
It depends, of course, on how you define "the West" (an argument I do not intend to rehash here) -- but if you include Houston, then you might be interested in this call for papers that recently arrived:

The History Department and the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University request proposals for a conference, "The Past and Present of Race and Place in Houston, Texas" scheduled for February 2013 (pending funding). The conference will bring new work on the history of race in Houston into conversation with current investigations of the city's racial landscape in order to strengthen both areas of scholarship, probe the ways that historical and contemporary scholarship inform one another, and, in places, to highlight how such work offers solutions to current problems rooted in the ways race works, and has worked, in the city.

What is Houston's demographic history, and does that history portend anything for the future? What historical forces channeled particular racial, ethnic, and linguistic groups into specific Houston neighborhoods, and what contemporary forces are reinforcing or undoing these former trajectories? What role have racial ideologies played in shaping the political, social, educational, and physical landscapes of the city? How did neighborhood institutions, local communities, and individuals bolster or challenge economic, ethnic, and racial divisions within the city, and what, if any, are the contemporary legacies of such work? Has the city birthed racialized cultural productions in literature, and in the visual and performing arts particular to the city and important beyond it as well? How should what is known about the city at present shape what historians seek to gather about Houston's past? The conference will address these and other key questions.

Please send proposals and a cv to raceinhouston@rice.edu. The deadline for proposals is July 16, 2012. Paper proposals should be no more than 500 words.

June 4, 2012

Book of the Month:

Gastón Espinosa and Mario T. García, eds., Mexican American Religions: Spirituality, Activism, and Culture.

Review by Brett Hendrickson

Most of the American West used to be Mexico, and Mexican Americans and other Latinos comprise the largest minority group in every continental state west of Kansas City except the Dakotas, Oklahoma, and Montana. It would be an exaggeration to say that the history of Mexican Americans is the history of the American West, but it is impossible to understand the region without considering Mexicans and Mexican Americans. Naturally, Mexican American religions have a tremendous influence on Mexican Americans’ cultural output, sense of self and community, and negotiation of identity in the United States.

This relatively recent volume (2008) adds to a growing wave of scholarship in what one might call “Mexican American lived religions” in that it avoids explicit normative and theological viewpoints as well as religious institutional histories. The editors explain in the introduction that this collection, instead, focuses on “religious sentiments in [Mexican American] literature, art, politics, and pop culture” (4). As a result, most of the essays in the book are extremely fun to read: they are topical, full of illustrations and personal stories, make playful use of theory, and would work easily in an undergraduate seminar.

To say that the essays are fun is not to say that they aren’t serious. An ongoing theme in all scholarly work on Mexican American religion is that religion, for the most part, has aided Mexican Americans in their struggle against prejudice, exclusion, poverty, and marginalization. The most important essay in the volume, “Pious Colonialism: Assessing a Church Paradigm for Chicano Identity” by Anthony Stevens-Arroyo complicates this picture of Mexican American religion and shows that Chicano religious institutions and customs have also had their role in promoting subjugation. However, more typical is the excellent chapter about feminist appropriations of Guadalupe by Socorro Castañeda-Liles, which displays some of the creative and empowering relationships that many Mexican American women have shared with the Virgin.

Indeed, women are everywhere in the book. A chapter by Kay Turner profiles altaristas, women who maintain elaborate home altars (in writing so tender that I teared up at times). Other chapters consider women’s roles in community-based faith dramas, in literature, in art, and in traditional folk medicine. The final chapter in the book, by Gastón Espinosa, is a suggestive exploration of how the murdered pop singer, Selena, is now functioning like a subcultural redemptive force. Another chapter, co-authored by Roberto Lint Sagarena and Davíd Carrasco, is a paean to the poet and activist Gloria Anzaldúa. The editors, without saying a word about it, have demonstrated with their chapter selection and organization that Mexican American women are central actors in Mexican American religion and culture.

What could be better? There are two good chapters on Mexican American Pentecostals, but there could be more here. Likewise, there is no discussion of how Mexican American Catholics and Protestants do or do not relate to each other in public life. A few of the chapters have appeared almost verbatim elsewhere. A couple of the authors probably overstate the ability of religion, art, or literature to overthrow centuries of economic oppression and second-class citizenship (but wouldn’t it be nice to think that what we study has that kind of power?).

But, all in all, this is a strong collection of essays. Like many edited collections, it doesn’t have a clear argumentative arc and therefore could never be used as a stand-alone text in a course on Mexican American religion, much less religion in the American West, but it would be a terrific supplementary reader. And even if you aren’t thinking of using the book as a teaching tool, it is still a great read that will help you fill out your own understanding of the diversity of religion in the American West.

Editor’s note: Have you read this book? What do you think about it? Join the conversation and leave your thoughts in the comments! If you have a suggestion for a future book of the month, or if you would like to review a book for the book of the month series, please contact us. Next month, Susanna Morrill reviews Patricia O'Connell Killen and Mark Silk, eds., Religion and Public Life in the Northwest: The None Zone (Altamira Press, 2004).

June 1, 2012

Mexican American and Borderlands Studies: Short-term Research Fellowships

The following announcement recently came across our desk here at the virtual offices of the RAW blog, and we thought you might be interested.  Especially if you do Mexican American and/or Borderlands Studies.  Especially if some of your sources are at UT-Austin.  The deadline is June 4, which is soon!  Herewith, the announcement:

The Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin announces its first annual competition for three (3) short-term research fellowships at the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection in the fields of Mexican American and Borderlands Studies.

World renowned for its over 1,000,000 books, periodicals, pamphlets, and microforms; 4,350 linear feet of manuscripts; 19,000 maps; 11,500 broadsides; 400,000 photographs and slides; and 60,000 items in a variety of other media (sound recordings, drawings, video tapes and cassettes, DVDs, posters, memorabilia, and electronic media), and periodical titles are estimated at over 40,000 with 8,000 currently received titles and over 3,000 newspaper titles, the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection is one of the foremost research libraries containing materials related to the Mexican American experience and Borderlands Studies. For a listing of Mexican American and U.S. Latin@ archival and manuscript collections see: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/benson/archives/ma_manuscripts.html.

Further, the Mexican American Library Program (MALP) at The University of Texas at Austin was formally established in 1974 by the University Libraries to support the educational needs of students of Mexican American and U.S. Latino culture and history. It is also designed to support the research activities of the faculty of the Center for Mexican American Studies, which has been serving the state of Texas and the nation as a leader in the intellectual development of Mexican American studies since 1970.

Short-term fellowships are restricted to post-doctoral scholars, Ph.D. candidates or holders of other terminal degrees from outside the Austin area who have a specific need to use the Mexican American and Borderlands collections at the Benson Library. Further, projects must demonstrate innovation and substantial contributions to shaping the fields of Mexican American Studies and/or Borderlands Studies. Fellowships are for 2 weeks with a maximum award amount of $750. Fellowships are for travel and housing. Priority will be given to applicants who might not otherwise be able to complete their research without CMAS fellowship support and to applications that focus on the Mexican American and/or experiences of the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands. Award recipients will be announced on June 15th. Residencies may begin on July 1, 2012 and must end by September 1, 2012. Awardees must publicly acknowledge CMAS and the Benson Latin American Collection in any published materials resulting from the fellowship, including doctoral dissertations, articles, and book manuscripts.

Application Guidelines
CMAS-Benson Latin American Collection Short-Term Research Fellowship in Mexican American and Borderlands Studies applications must be received by June 4, 2012. This includes the applicant’s own materials and all reference letters.

Please note: the review committee will not accept applications that include any material in excess of the five main parts described below.

The application consists of five elements:

1. The cover sheet of basic personal and professional information. (see PDF link below)

2. A Project Abstract of no more than 300 words. The abstract must communicate the significance of the project to reviewers in the humanities or social sciences who may not be specialists in the field of inquiry. This should be the overall description of the project.

3. A Project Description of no more than 1,500 words that details the following:
a. Description of the project and its significance to Mexican American Studies. When appropriate, please make specific reference to previously published scholarship that will be revised, improved or supplanted by the proposed project (1000 words).

b. Description of the Benson Collection materials to be consulted (please be as specific as possible) and an outline of the work plan for the fellowship period (500 words).
4. A current Curriculum Vitae (CV) of no more than 10 pages. Please do not submit difficult to read documents. Please be sure to list forthcoming publications and describe their status (in progress, submitted, accepted, in press).

5. Two Letters of Reference. Letters should speak to the promise and innovation of the proposed project, its relevance to work in the Benson Collection with Mexican American and/or U.S.-Mexico Borderlands materials in addition to the talents and qualifications of the applicant. Please send your referees a copy of your project description and remind them of the application deadline. Letters that speak to the CMAS-Benson Collection Short-Term Fellowship are weighted more heavily than those coming from a dossier service. We prefer that letters be submitted electronically and must come directly from the letter writer.

Instructions for Submitting Applications
Applicants must compile their applications electronically and submit them as e-mail attachments by June 4, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. CST.

1. Download the cover sheet from the CMAS website. Fill in the shaded form fields using a word processing application.

2. Attach the following documents to an email using the corresponding file names:
• Cover sheet
• Project Abstract
• Project Description
• CV
Please submit these as four separate documents. The project abstract, project description, and CV may be submitted as Word attachments. PDFs are preferred but not required.

3. Send the e-mail to johannah@mail.utexas.edu with the subject line“(Applicant’s last name) Fellowship Application.”

4. Contact referees regarding letters of reference. We prefer that referees send their letters electronically as attachments to johannah@mail.utexas.edu with the subject line “(Applicant’s last name) Letter of Reference.” In cases where referees are not able to send electronic copies, paper copies will be accepted. Due to the volume of applications, we cannot notify applicants about missing letters. Applicants are responsible for making sure that their referees submit their letters on time and should contact johannah@mail.utexas.edu to confirm receipt.

5. We will acknowledge receipt of applications via e-mail. If we do not respond in three (3) business days of sending the application, please contact us at johannah@mail.utexas.edu or (512) 471-4557. Applications must be time-date stamped by deadline listed.