Rethinking Binationalism: Binational Mexican Labor Activism in the Early 20th Century

Wednesday, April 17, 2013
12:30 - 2:00 pm
Public Affairs 5391

Presented by Devra Weber, UC Riverside, History

Discussant: Toby Higbie, UC Los Angeles, History


About the Talk:

“Rethinking Binationalism” explores the history of binational Mexican labor activism in the early 20th century. The perspective is from a segment of the grass roots base of an under-explored part of the Industrial Workers of the World and highlights Mexican activists who were committed members of the binational Partido Liberal Mexicano (PLM) and, simultaneously, organized Mexicans into the IWW. In this period, as others, Mexican worker/organizers were often the engines for binational solidarity. This binationalism had deep roots in the area north of the post 1848 border. The lives and work of two traveling organizer-propagandists suggests binational (and internationalist) cross generational legacies of a commitment to labor organizing and social change which resonates in the present period.

About the Speakers:


Devra Weber

Devra Weber is an Associate Professor of History at the University of California Riverside, and affiliated faculty in Labor Studies and Ethnic Studies. She is the author of Dark Sweat, White Gold: California Farm Workers, Cotton and the New Deal, and Editor of  Manuel Gamio: El inmigrante Mexicano: la historia de su vida: entrevistas completas 1926-1927. Among her articles are "Historical Perspectives on Mexican Transnationalism: With Notes from Angumacutiro" and "Raiz Fuerte: Oral History and Mexicana Farmworkers." She is currently working on a manuscript about binational Mexican activism in the early 20th century. “Keeping Community, Challenging Boundaries: Indigenous Migrants, Internationalist Workers, and Mexican Revolutionaries, 1900-1920,” in John Tutino, ed Mexico and Mexicans in the History and Culture of the United States


Toby Higbie

Tobias Higbie is an Associate Professor in the UCLA History Department where he teaches classes on labor and social movement history, labor studies, and U.S. History. He is also an advisor to the Institute for Research on Labor & Employment and the Labor & Workplace Studies undergraduate minor.  Higbie is the author of Indispensable Outcasts: Hobo Workers and Community in the American Midwest, 1880-1930 (2003), and articles on migration, print culture, and working class education.

Before coming to UCLA in 2007, Higbie taught labor history and contemporary economics for trade unionists at the University of Illinois, and directed a research center at the Newberry Library in Chicago.  He holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Illinois.



This event is cosponsored by the UCLA Departments of History and Chicana/o Studies and the UCLA Center for Mexican Studies