Student Forum: Navigating Borders, Labor, and Home


Please join us for this student research forum highlighting four current UC Santa Cruz graduate and undergraduate projects. Selected photos from the scholarship contest will also be on display. The reception begins at 6:00 p.m. and the program begins at 6:45 p.m. This event is free and open to the public, but attendees are kindly asked to register in advance.

Presentation Abstracts

Making Home Under Precarious Housing Conditions: The Experiences of Latinxs in Los Angeles, CA
Alma Esperanza Villa Loma, double major in Latin American and Latino Studies and Sociology with a minor in History of Art and Visual Culture

Housing in the United States is out of reach for disadvantaged communities. Excessive housing costs, overcrowdedness, and forced evictions underscore the importance of investigate the experiences of Latinx communities, which are some of the most disadvantaged groups in our society. Drawing from 45 in-depth interviews conducted in Spanish and English in Southeast, East and South Los Angeles, my research focuses on precarious housing and it demonstrate that Latinx communities are experiencing precarious conditions as the result of their citizenship, low-wages and unwanted mobility. Yet, it also documents their resilience, dignity and the strategies they use to make sense of home while living under these circumstances.

“Living Openly and Notoriously”: The Sexual Policing of Migrant Women
Bristol Cave-LaCoste, PhD candidate in History with a Designated Emphasis in Latin American and Latino Studies

Since its inception in the late nineteenth century, U.S. immigration policies expected border crossers to give up their privacy through physical examinations and interrogations. Historians have understood the role of these practices in labor regulation and familial migrations, but this scrutiny also laid bare and criminalized immigrant women’s alleged sexual pasts.

Nativist anxieties and public anti-prostitution campaigns made a wide range of sexual behaviors a primary justification for excluding and deporting women between 1875 and 1924. Even as the laws barring mostly non-white migrating women failed to end prostitution, they brought devastating human consequences. My work unsettles public and state efforts to normalize sexual conformity as an expectation of national belonging.

The Demons of Open Borders
Cesar Estrella, PhD candidate in Latin American and Latino Studies

International migration is a major source of political debate and alarm in our current world. Immigrant communities are being demonized through the discourse that they are a danger to national security, the national economy, and the cultural and racial identity of nation-states, particularly in the “First-World”.
Although only 3% of the world’s population have settled in another country, immigrants are increasingly facing exclusionary practices and wealth extraction schemes under neoliberal globalization. My presentation will explore the mechanisms by which this narrative is constructed and delivered in order to naturalize growing patterns of expulsion, the flexibilization of the labor force, and the transformation of the “welfare state” into a “security (trans)nationalized state”.

Tentative Title: Self-governance in small scale Mexican fisheries
Eric Medina, double major in Latin American and Latino Studies and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Small-scale fisheries (SSFs) are integral to our understanding of food security, poverty alleviation, and biodiversity conservation in Latin America. In Mexico, formal institutions for regulating fisheries and fishers have only been around since the 1940’s and their academic and scientific capacities have been limited because of poor political and economic support. This poor understanding of how SSFs self-govern has led to policy that incentivizes harmful fishing strategies and allows for abusive working conditions. This project aims to understand the successes and challenges in SSF self-governance using focus groups to document the personal experiences of fishers. Through this process it was found that many factors that go without formal documentation such as immigration and vigilance play important roles in SSFs. I argue the importance of understanding the lived experiences of fishers for creating policy that supports both fishing and ecological communities.


Alma Esperanza Villa Loma is a fifth-year transfer student in Latin American and Latino Studies and Sociology with a minor in History of Art and Visual Culture. Winner of the 2016 Blum Scholar Grant, Joel Frankel Award, STARS Re-entry Scholarship, and Weiss Family Scholarship, she is researching precarious housing among Latinxs in Southern California, with a focus on the impact of the current housing crisis on low-income Latinos in Los Angeles. As the CLRC Intern, she contributed in the construction and exhibition of Nuestras Historias: CLRC Archive Project, participates in our Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program, translates text in English and Spanish, and provides support at CLRC-sponsored events. After her graduation from UCSC, she expects to attend a Master program that prepares her to continue working for the inclusion of historically underrepresented groups.

Bristol Cave-LaCoste is a PhD candidate in History with a Designated Emphasis in Latin American and Latino Studies. She studies prostitution and sexual policing within immigration policy of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. She feels most at home elbows deep in dusty old immigration records, so fortunately her research on Chinese, Jewish, and Mexican women has sent her to archives in the Bay area, New York, San Diego, and abroad. She is a recipient of both a CLRC mini-grant and the Lionel Cantú Memorial Award to support research in Mexico City and at the Kinsey Archives in Indiana. Alongside dissertation-writing this year, she is developing and teaching two new classes, on Freedom and Race and Queer History in the U.S.A.

Location details: 

Museum of Art & History (705 Front Street, Santa Cruz)

Invited Audience: 
Event dates: 
04/26/2018 - 6:00pm