Anita Huizar-Hernández is an Assistant Professor of Border Studies in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Arizona. She received her Ph.D. in Literature (Cultural Studies) from the University of California, San Diego where she specialized in Literatures and Cultures of the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, with an emphasis on Arizona. Her research investigates how narratives, both real and imagined, have shaped the political, economic, and cultural landscape of the Southwestern borderlands in general, and Arizona in particular. Drawing from a diverse array of nineteenth and twentieth century archival materials, her work recovers the underexplored history of race relations in the state and their continued impact on local, regional, and national politics.
Forging Arizona: A History of the Peralta Land Grant and Racial Identity in the West. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2019.
Forging Arizona looks back at a bizarre nineteenth-century land grant scheme that tests the limits of how ideas about race, citizenship, and national expansion are forged. During the aftermath of the U.S.-Mexico War and the creation of the current border, a con artist named James Addison Reavis falsified archives around the world to pass his wife off as the heiress to an enormous Spanish land grant so that they could claim ownership of a substantial portion of the newly-acquired Southwestern territories. Drawing from a wide variety of sources including court records, newspapers, fiction, and film, Huizar-Hernández argues that the creation, collapse, and eventual forgetting of Reavis’s scam reveal the mechanisms by which narratives, real and imaginary, forge borders. An important addition to extant scholarship on the U.S Southwest border, Forging Arizona recovers a forgotten case that reminds readers that the borders that divide nations, identities, and even true from false are only as stable as the narratives that define them.
Book Chapters and Articles
“Resisting the Single Story in an Arizona Classroom.” In Teaching with Tension: Race, Resistance, and Reality in the Classroom, edited by Philathia Bolton, Cassander L. Smith, and Lee Bebout, 35-47. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2019.
"Forging a Borderlands Baroness: Latinx Identity and Racial Uncertainties in the 1895 Peralta Land Grant Trial." English Language Notes 56, no. 2 (2018): 55-66.
"The Specter of Statehood: Inventing Arizona in Charles D. Poston’s Building a State in Apache Land and Marie Clara Zander’s 'The Life of an Arizona Pioneer.'" MELUS 42, no. 2 (2017): 53–78.
"'The Real Geronimo Got Away' Eluding Expectations in Geronimo: His Own Story; The Autobiography of a Great Patriot Warrior." SAIL 29, no. 2 (2017): 49-70.
"Papers Please: Toward a Politics of Personhood in Arizona and Beyond." Aztlan: A Journal of Chicano Studies 42, no. 1 (2017): 225-238.
Selected Grants and Awards
2018 Scholar in Residence, University of New Mexico Center for Regional Studies
2017-2018 Arizona Humanities Project Grant for In Transit/En tránsito, a project co-organized with Dr. Kaitlin Murphy (UA Spanish and Portuguese)
2017-2019 Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry Innovation Farm Grant for Transfrontera, a project co-organized with Dr. Lillian Gorman (UA Spanish and Portuguese), and Drs. Maurice Magaña and Michelle Téllez (UA Mexican American Studies)
2015-2016 NEH Latino Americans: 500 Years of History Community Programming Initiative with the Arizona Historical Society and Dr. Francisco Galarte (UA Gender and Women's Studies)