Category Archives: History

Remembering UT student media with UT Watch


This is an addition to my electronic resources list that deserves its special mention. I might be biased because I studied at UT, but UT Watch is a great resource in many ways. Its archive of “student publications, theses, dissertations, and research guides” is full of interesting resources and memories of a history of student public engagement at many levels. Engagement in the sense of activism, of establishing connections, of thinking, speaking acting and responding. The writing is serious and engaged.

The archive has a rather complete PDF collection of many student documents and publications, including Polemicist (1989-1992), The Other Texan (1992-1993), Tejas (1989-1996), (sub)TEX (1994-1995), The Working Stiff Journal (1998-2000), Issue (2003-5) and The Rag (1966-1977). Continue reading

Enfranchising the Disenfranchised — A Case for Resident Voting Rights


Photo by Ho John Lee

On October 26 a Boston Globe headline immediately called my attention: “Many in East Boston Can’t Vote on Casino Referendum”. As the city prepared to elect a new mayor to replace the twenty-year incumbent Thomas Menino, the permitting of a new casino in East Boston was a far more important issue for many. For some it represented economic opportunities and for others it seemed a threat, bringing unwanted traffic and vice to the region. The stakes were very high for local residents, but, as the article reported,

census figures show that almost half of the adults in this immigrant enclave will not cast a ballot about the casino, the mayoral race, or anything else — because they cannot.

They are not US citizens.

The vote went on, the casino initiative failed, but the fact that “about 46 percent of the adults in East Boston cannot vote” on matters that directly affect their livelihood and quality of life raises very important questions about democracy and representation, at least at the very local level. Continue reading

Remembering the San Patricios, “the Irish soldiers of Mexico”

Plaque commemorating the San Patricio Martyrs in Mexico City.

Plaque commemorating the San Patricio Martyrs in Mexico City.

As US troops invaded Mexico City, the August 20, 1847 battle of Churubusco marked an important turning point in the city’s defense. Today the results of that war are known to many (but, not surprisingly, not to all). In its aftermath the territory comprising the current states of California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and other regions (about half of Mexico’s territory) was ceded to the United States.

A lesser known chapter of this war is the role played by a battalion of Irish soldiers, recent immigrants to the United States, who deserted the US army to fight on the side of their fellow-Catholic Mexicans. As the references embedded in this post indicate, religion was not the only reason for these Irish to change sides. Questioning of the Polk administration’s expansionist and racist policies was also central to their defection. Continue reading

On questions of status: Puerto Rico’s relation to the US and Oscar López Rivera’s fate

Oscar López Rivera (from 80 Grados)

The next couple of weeks will mark two important milestones for the history of the Puerto Rican people. On August 1, the US Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold hearings about the island’s status, responding to a recent non-binding plebiscite in which the majority of voters expressed their disagreement with the current status. These hearings will take place exactly one week to the day of the 115th anniversary of the event that paved the way to this status, the US invasion of Puerto Rico on July 25, 1898. Many look at the hearings full of expectations, hoping that they might allow the island to once and for all clarify its relation to the United States. Others are more cautious, assuming that this is just one of many other futile attempts to clarify a relationship that has been very complex from its origin and a catalyst for passions of different persuasions.

Much will be written about the hearings and their results. Today I’d like to address another aspect of the passions surrounding the relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico that has been steadily gaining the attention not only of Puerto Ricans, but of the international community as a whole: the fate of Oscar López Rivera, who has already served 32 years in prison for the charge of “seditious conspiracy”, a statute enacted on July 1861 to detain and punish Confederate rebells. Continue reading

“History Is a Weapon” site

While working on my list of electronic resources, I ran into this very interesting digital project: History Is a Weapon. It is already listed on the page, but I was so impressed by it that I think it deserves its own blog post. I simply quote what I wrote for its entry:

Not precisely a digital library or archive, this is a very interesting project gathering a wide collection of books and other texts addressing world history from a critical perspective. I ran into it when I found this on-line edition of Howard Zinn’s foundational A People’s History of the United States. The collection might be a bit difficult to navigate, but this “Starter Page” serves as a useful introduction. The “Author List” page is another helpful way to enter the site, as it reveals the wide range of resources available here.

Zapatista pioneers of cyber-activism

One of my major inspirations to start a blog was realizing the great potential that new electronic resources have for both communication and scholarship. While I am only now beginning to blog and actively engage with social media, I am not a complete novice to this medium. My first personal experience with it came in 1994, when the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas opened our eyes to the role that emerging cyber-technologies would play in the redefining of communications and political participation around the world. Back at a time when (now apparently archaic) tools like Archie, Veronica and Pine were astonishing new means to search and communicate, cyberspace completely transformed our way of learning and communicating. It is quite interesting to see this essay written by Harry Cleaver when the EZLN unleashed this new power. It was a time when the internet began to complement other means of communication, like alternative print journalism. Back then journals like (sub)TEX began discovering what we now take for granted, the “synergy” between electronic and print journalism.