2023 Program Committee Members
John Mckiernan-González, Ph.D. (Chair)
I have long been interested in public health and Latino social movements. My first job after college was in HIV testing and prevention for the Cook County Health Department, while I volunteered with the Immigrant Rights Network. In both jobs, I wanted something that could connect the long presence of Mexican communities in the United States to the history of American public health. There were none then. I decided to pursue a career researching and writing the history of these connections. I completed my Ph.D in History at the University of Michigan. My first book, Fevered Measures: Public Health and Race at the Texas-Mexico Border, 1848-1942, examines how the United States Public Health Service built its first medical border in the Texas-Mexico borderlands and how Mexican, Mexican American, and Black communities responded to the drawing of this medical border across their communities. My next project, Working Conditions: Medical Authority and Latino Civil Rights, examines how Latino communities sought to transform medical authority, a tool often used against minority communities, into an instrument for social justice. This project examines this complicated process in Texas, Chicago, California, and New York. My other project, Race against Labor, examines the way modern black and Mexican migrations shaped cultural movements and cultural boundaries in Southern and Mexican history.
Dr. Mckiernan-González specializes in Mexican American History, Latino Studies, Social and Cultural History of Medicine, and Immigration History
George T. Díaz is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, where he teaches U.S. History, Borderlands, and Mexican American History. His award-winning book, Border Contraband: A History of Smuggling across the Rio Grande (University of Texas Press, 2015), is a social history of smuggling in the borderlands. Díaz is co-editor of the collection Border Policing: A History of Enforcement and Evasion in North America (University of Texas Press, 2020). His current book project, Mañana Land: Life and Death in a Mexican Prison in Texas, considers incarceration and capital punishment transnationally by recovering the voices of those ensnared by the carceral state. Dr. Díaz’s research is informed by investigations in Mexican and U.S. archives, as well as a lifetime of living on the border.
Detroit, Michigan, native Bernadette Pruitt is associate professor of history and has been a member of the Department of History since 1996. She teaches classes on race and ethnicity, internal migrations, slavery, Recent United States history, and the African Diaspora. The first Black woman to earn a PhD in History from the University of Houston, she obtained her undergraduate and master’s degrees from HBCU Texas Southern University. The teacher-mentor is also an accomplished scholar. Her monograph, The Other Great Migration: The Movement of Rural African Americans to Houston, 1900-1941 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2013), examines Black internal migration and community building in what ultimately becomes the fourth largest city in the United States. Pruitt’s book is one of the first scholarly attempts to address the Great Migrations within the South. The scholar has won several awards, including the 2014 Ottis Lock Superb Book Award with the East Texas Historical Association (ETHA). She is also the past recipient of other awards and fellowships including the University of Illinois at Chicago African American Studies Department postdoctoral fellowship, Huggins-Quarles Award with the Organization of American Historians (OAH), the University of Houston African American Studies Dissertation Fellowship, the Ima Hogg Scholarship with the Dolph-Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin, and the Fred White Jr. and Mary M. Hughes Research Fellowships in Texas History with the Texas State Historical Association. An engaged activist scholar, the historian currently serves as a member for the OAH Committee on the Status of Women in the Historical Profession and is past chair of the 2015 Darlene Clark Hine Book Prize Committee, also with the OAH. She also serves on the Ottis Locke Prize Committee with the ETHA as well as a past ETHA board member. The co-advisor of the Sigma Phi Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta National History Honor Society, Pruitt has also served on the National Advisory Board and National Council of the honor society.
María Esther Hammack received her PhD from the Department of History at the University of Texas at Austin in May 2021. She is a Mexican scholar and public historian whose work centers freedom fighters who left the United States for Mexico, to be free, during the nineteenth century, the Black Diaspora in Mexico and the shared histories of slavery, liberation, and abolition North America writ large. She is the 2021-2023 McNeil Center's Barra Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. Find her on twitter: Maria Esther, twitter handle @lorientinuviel; or at her website: https://mariaestherhammack.me