November 01, 2018

Get to Know your Visiting Professor Ashley Black!

What is your area of research and how did you get interested in this topic? Are you doing any research right now?

I completed my doctoral studies at Stony Brook University in August 2018. My research examines the international and transnational politics of the Americas through a variety of lenses, from culture to revolution and political resistance. A number of central themes define my work, including migration, humanitarianism, and the relationship between states and individuals who lack full citizenship. I am primarily a historian of modern Mexico, but my work encompasses Central America, the Spanish-Speaking Caribbean, and U.S.-Latin American relations. My dissertation examines Mexican asylum policy between World War Two and the Cuban Revolution. It highlights the relationship between the Mexican government and political exiles from the Caribbean Basin to whom they granted protection. I use asylum as a lens onto Mexico’s international relations and as a way to gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between foreign and domestic politics at a time when Mexico’s ruling party was rolling back the gains of its own revolution (1910-1920).

It was through Spanish classes that I first became interested in Latin America as an undergraduate. After I completed my BA, I ran away to Central America where I traveled and studied Spanish. I had a transformative experience in Guatemala when I witnessed the extent to which people there continue to live their history as a central part of everyday life. It was my love of Guatemala and a growing interest in migration that eventually brought me to Mexican history and to the theme of asylum. Studying Mexico’s role as a site of immigration allows me to engage with a much broader regional history. Researching in Mexico, meanwhile, has the added benefit of enabling me to indulge in a love of Mexican food and fine textiles!

What brought you to Lewis & Clark?

A native of British Columbia, I came to Portland after many years of longing for the west coast and so far, it has not disappointed. People here have been incredibly kind and welcoming, and the coffee is just as good as I knew it would be. I am at Lewis & Clark for a one-year visiting position, filling in for Elliott Young, who is on leave this year. Next semester I will be teaching two introductory classes.

What are the names of the courses you will be teaching in the spring, and what will they be about?

My course on Modern Latin America spans the period from independence in the 1820s to the present. We will explore themes such as nation-building, populism, and state repression through a variety of media that include novels, memoirs, and film. I am also teaching a class on 19th Century U.S. history that will focus on the evolution of the country from an infant nation to a world power. In addition to examining political transformations of the era, we will pay particular attention to processes of exploitation and dispossession that were central to the rise of the United States. Finally, I am teaching a senior reading colloquium on the history of the Global Sixties. This class will examine the social, political, and cultural upheavals of the decade, paying particular attention to transnational currents that that drew together youth from all parts of the globe. We will read about student protests and countercultural movements from Harlem to Havana, and Berlin to Dar es Salaam.