Documenting the history of Latinos in the Pacific is the focus of online archive supported by ASU transborder seed grant
Written in plain block letters on a whiteboard is a menu that includes such items as tacos, enchiladas and quesadillas. Above it is a sign featuring a woman who bears a curious resemblance to famed Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. The sign reads “Taqueria Viva Mexico.”
Except this isn’t Mexico, or even Arizona for that matter. It’s New Zealand — or, as it is more colloquially known, Aotearoa — and many may be surprised to discover that it has a growing population of Latinos.
But in fact, Latinos have had a strong presence in the PacificThe Pacific refers to the region of the world, also known as Oceania, that includes the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean, or more broadly, the entire insular region between Southeast Asia and the Americas, including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago. ever since 1832, when King Kamehameha III of Hawaii invited Mexican vaquerosThe Spanish term for cowboys or cattle drivers. from what is today California to help Native Hawaiians deal with their rampant cattle population. Puerto Ricans soon followed in the early 1900s, and since then, Latinos have been slowly but steadily migrating to the Pacific region, drawn by the economic opportunity presented by its robust agricultural labor market.
Rudy Guevarra Jr.Guevarra is an associate professor in ASU’s School of Social Transformation and affiliate faculty in ASU’s School of Transborder Studies, both academic units in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. His interest lies in how multiethnic identity and communities are developed and sustained throughout generations., an ASU associate professor of Asian Pacific American studies, is in the process of writing a book“Aloha Compadre: Latina/os in Hawaiʻi, 1832-2010” is Guevarra’s second, single-authored book. His first is “Becoming Mexipino: Multiethnic Identities and Communities in San Diego.” about the phenomenon titled “Aloha Compadre: Latina/os in Hawaiʻi, 1832-2010.” His researchGuevarra received funding from an Institute for Humanities Research seed grant as well as a Comparative Border Studies Program research grant to help facilitate his research for "Aloha Compadre." for the book will be the foundation for the development of the Latino Pacific Archive. Along with colleagues Matthew Kester of Brigham Young University–Hawaiʻi and Alexandrina Agloro of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Guevarra has received a grant from ASU’s School of Transborder Studies’ Program for Transborder Communities to get the project off the ground.
"Oftentimes we see the American Southwest as the area of the borderlands. ... But I saw it as going even further, into these aquatic regions that are expanding what we know as the traditional borderlands today — borders as not just terrestrial but aquatic."
— Rudy Guevarra Jr., ASU associate professor of Asian Pacific American studies
Launched in July 2014, the Program for Transborder Communities (PTC) is an initiative that provides yearlong seed funding for ASU faculty conducting collaborative, interdisciplinary research on the changing needs and growing cultural, political and economic influence of Latinos in the U.S., as well as on cross-border issues faced by communities in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands and other border regions in the world.
During the 2015-2016 academic year, the program awarded three research cluster grants (one of which went to Guevarra and his team) and three individual research grants. It is now accepting proposals for the 2016-2017 academic year through May 6. Once again, a total of three research cluster grants and three individual research grants will be awarded.
“In the last two years we’ve provided funds for projects supporting the ideas of researchers representing 10 different units across the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences,” said program director and School of Transborder Studies associate professor Francisco Lara-Valencia. “The projects range from collaboration to promote healthy eating and active living along the U.S.-Mexico borderlands to the utilization of multimedia as a teaching tool to capture the history and livelihoods of transborder communities.”
The goal of the grants, Lara-Valencia said, is to seed the research activities that can then form the basis for external grant proposals.
What would eventually become the Latino Pacific Archive began with an idea that formed as a result of Guevarra’s many visits to Hawaii while finishing his dissertation, titled “Mexipino: A History of Multiethnic Identity and the Formation of the Mexican and Filipino Communities of San Diego.” (A native of San Diego himself, Guevarra’s use of the term “Mexipino” is in reference to his own Mexican-Filipino heritage.)