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History Professor Receives 2014 Frederick Jackson Turner Award

Book honored for historical look at deep roots of current immigration conflict

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April 29, 2014 | by Caitlin Tucker

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Geraldo L. Cadava, assistant professor of history in Northwestern University’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, has received the 2014 Frederick Jackson Turner Award for his first book, “Standing on Common Ground: The Making of a Sunbelt Borderland.”

“Standing on Common Ground” is about the U.S.-Mexico borderline separating Arizona and Sonora since World War II. The book makes several contributions to the field of Latino Studies by demonstrating that contemporary immigration and border debates have their roots in post-World War II economic transformations in the U.S. and Mexico.

Each year the Organization of American Historians (OAH) Frederick Jackson Turner Award Committee selects an author’s first scholarly book dealing with some aspect of American history. This year’s committee unanimously chose Cadava’s book for its study of transnational and borderlands history.

Through transnational research and archival evidence, the book shows how Arizona and Sonora continue to shape one another, despite the presence of the increasingly militarized border between them.

“My book reveals the entangled histories of the region’s white, Mexican, Mexican-American and indigenous peoples in the arenas of migration, culture and commerce,” Cadava said. “It also acknowledges the demographic diversification of the Latino Southwest by characterizing the region, particularly since the 1970s, as home to Central Americans and Mexican- Americans alike.”

Cadava was born in Tucson, Arizona, where his mother and grandparents still reside. He says the description of Tucson that often dominates media accounts, as dangerous, vice-ridden and walled off from Mexico, does not match his own understanding of the city and its regional relationships.

“I wanted readers to know that there's so much more about the Arizona-Sonora border region than its divisive debates about undocumented immigration,” he said.

“Standing on Common Ground” explores the little known history of Mexican and Mexican- American conservatism, a subject that Cadava will take up in his second book, “The Origins of Latino Conservatism: Empire, Capitalism and Culture from 1810-2010.”

“It was a huge honor for me to win the Frederick Jackson Turner award, generally considered to be a best first-book prize,” he said. “We spend years working on our books and it can be intimidating to send them out into the world, so it's nice to know it’s been well-received.”

The Organization of America Historians, a professional organization dedicated to the teaching and study of the American past, promotes excellence in the scholarship, teaching and presentation of American history, and encourages wide discussion of historical questions and equitable treatment of all practitioners of history.