2018 WHA Election

Article VI of the WHA Constitution and ByLaws explains the function and process of the Nominating Committee for the organization's annual election. Electronic ballots will arrive in your email inbox from OpaVote on July 11, 2018. If you do not receive an email on July 11, or prefer a paper ballot, please contact the WHA Office (402-554-5999 or email us at westernhistoryassociation@gmail.com).


David Wrobel, University of Oklahoma 

David Wrobel is a David L. Boren Professor (2016-) and Merrick Chair of Western American History (2011-) at the University of Oklahoma. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on the West, modern American thought and culture, the Progressive Era, the Great Depression and New Deal, John Steinbeck and the introductory U.S. History survey, 1865-Present. A dedicated promoter of partnerships with K-12 educators, he has participated in and directed numerous teacher institutes, workshops, and colloquia sponsored by the NEH, USDE, and other organizations. Prior to OU, David taught at UNLV (2000-2011), Widener University (1994-2000), Hartwick College (1992-1994), and The College of Wooster (1990-1992).

His books include America’s West: A History, 1890-1950 (Cambridge 2017); Global West, American Frontier: Travel, Empire and Exceptionalism from Manifest Destiny to the Great Depression (New Mexico 2013); Promised Lands: Promotion, Memory, and the Creation of the American West (Kansas, 2002); and The End of American Exceptionalism: Frontier Anxiety from the Old West to the New Deal (Kansas, 1993). He is currently working on a “John Steinbeck’s America: A Cultural History, 1930-1968.”

David serves as an Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer (2008-), was Senior Research Fellow in Western American History at Yale University (2005-2006), and a Visiting Scholar at the Center of the American West, CU-Boulder (1999). He has served the WHA as a member of the Council, Nominations Committee, Program Committee, various prize and award committees, and as Chair of Local Arrangements. He is past president of the American Historical Association’s Pacific Coast Branch, and of Phi Alpha Theta, the National History Honor Society.

David holds master’s and doctoral degrees in American Intellectual History from The Ohio University and a BA in history/philosophy from the University of Kent, Canterbury, England. In June 2018 he was named Dean of the University of Oklahoma College of Arts and Sciences.

David writes: A Southwest Londoner by origin, and relative newcomer to the West, the region—from southern Nevada to central Oklahoma—has been my home for nearly two decades and the WHA has been my primary professional affiliation for a quarter century. My scholarship has focused on what the West means to its residents, to the nation, and to the world, but it is hard to express fully just how much the WHA has meant to me over the years. I am looking forward to this wonderful opportunity to serve, as President Elect and as President, the wonderfully diverse and vibrant constituencies that comprise our shared professional home and family. From K12, community college, small college, and university faculty, both tenure-track and contingent, to graduate and undergraduate students, independent scholars, librarians, archivists, public historians, western writers and artists, and “Westerners,” of all races and ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations, these are the “fit rooms” of our “worthy house” and I’m honored to call it my home.

Council Position A

Vote for one person to fill a position on the WHA Council.

Laurie Arnold, Gonzaga University

The WHA means a great deal to me. Our meetings are places of connection and collegiality, where we foster communities of new scholars as we celebrate the work of those who have inspired us thus far. I have served the WHA in various roles during the last 15 years—on prize committees, the nominating committee, the membership committee—because WHA is a home where I can return again and again and always discover something new.

In my role as chair of the WHA Membership Committee, I think about how our membership reflects our community. We are rigorous scholars, thoughtful teachers, genial colleagues; members of the WHA encompass many disciplinary perspectives, and practice history in numerous ways. In that committee we ask ourselves how we can support our members.   

One answer to that question was creation of the Graduate Student Prize. The Membership Committee introduced the prize for Council approval in 2014 and our committee currently operates the Prize. This prize, awarded to ten graduate students each year, is designed to foster new members of our field, to support their attendance at our conferences so we can know them and learn from them. In addition to serving the organization through committee work, each year I participate in the library and archives Graduate Student Workshop at the conference, offering a session on grant seeking. In my role on Council, I would like to create additional pathways into service and professional development, routes that are open more broadly to our membership. Among many examples, we can be more transparent about what service on various committees means, from fundamental questions such as committee goals to pragmatic questions such as time commitment, so when we reach out to members to serve, they are better prepared to accept. For members ready to enter the world of grant seeking, we can organize conversations which draw upon the expertise of the many colleagues who have won research fellowships and grant funding.

I was proud to accept this nomination for Council and I view it as an opportunity to enhance the work I already do for our community. Thank you for your consideration.

Laurie Arnold is an enrolled member of the Sinixt Band of the Colville Confederated Tribes. She is Director of Native American Studies and Associate Professor of History at Gonzaga University. Her first book, Bartering with the Bones of Their Dead: The Colville Confederated Tribes and Termination, was published by the University of Washington Press in 2012. Her scholarship has also appeared in The Western Historical Quarterly, Montana Magazine, Collection Management, the Native Women of North America database, and in edited collections.

Michael Witgen, University of Michigan

I am a scholar of Native, Early American, and Western history at the University of Michigan where I am an Associate Professor in the Department of American Culture, the Department of History, and the Native American Studies Program. I served as the Director of NAS from 2011 to 2014. I became a historian, in large part, because of a fight over spearfishing. In the late 1980s members of my tribal community, the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe began to spear walleye off reservation and out of season in order to assert their treaty rights and tribal sovereignty. This resulted in a contentious and often violent confrontation with the state and non-Native peoples over political rights, land use, belonging, and history that is a direct reflection of the larger history of the United States. This confrontation convinced me of the importance of placing Native history at the center of North American history. My first book, An Infinity of Nations: How the Native New World Shaped Early North America explored the history of the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi Valley as a distinctly Native New World, a place that was claimed by empires but dominated by the Anishinaabe and Dakota peoples. My current book project Seeing Red: Indigenous Land, Black Lives, and the Political Economy of Plunder in North America examines the intersection of race, national identity, and state making in the Old Northwest of the early republic. In addition, I have published articles in The Western Historical Quarterly, The William and Mary Quarterly, Ethnohistory, The Oxford Handbook of American Indian History, and I have an article forthcoming in the Journal of the Early Republic. I have been an active member of the WHA for twenty years and helped to found the Indian Scholars Luncheon which established the Indian Student Conference Scholarship. In addition, I have served on the John C. Ewers Prize Committee. I would welcome the opportunity to serve on the WHA council.

Council Position B

Vote for one person to fill a position on the WHA Council.

Erika Pérez, University of Arizona

I am a sixth-year assistant professor and affiliate of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona where I teach courses on U.S. women’s history, sports history, comparative borderlands, the history of witch crazes, and Native American history. Before arriving in Tucson, I taught at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and have experience teaching at both private and public Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI). I received my B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, a M.A. from San Francisco State University, and a M.A./Ph.D. from UCLA. My first monograph Colonial Intimacies: Interethnic Kinship, Sexuality, and Marriage in Southern California, 1769-1885 has just been published by the University of Oklahoma Press. I have also published articles and book chapters, such as: “Family, Spiritual Kinship, and Social Hierarchy in Early California,” in Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal (Fall 2016), “‘Saludos from your comadre:’ Compadrazgo as a Community Institution in Alta California, 1769-1860s,” in California History: The Journal of the California Historical Society (September 2011), and “The Paradox of Kinship: Native-Catholic Communities in Alta California, 1769-1840s,” in On the Borders of Love and Power: Families and Kinship in the Intercultural American Southwest, edited by David Wallace Adams and Crista DeLuzio (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012). I am now beginning research on a new project about rape and age of consent laws in early California.

I have served the WHA in various capacities over the past decade in program committees, a local arrangements committee, as a member of the Committee on Race in the American West (CRAW), and a panel participant and panel organizer for several years, including recent participation on a panel about sexual harassment in the academy at last year’s San Diego meeting. As a Chicana feminist scholar, I would like to help the WHA expand its outreach efforts to graduate students, junior faculty, tribal college colleagues, K-12 educators, and respected elders in local communities to enable them to attend annual meetings and to foster connections between scholars and the general public. I believe the WHA would also benefit from more interdisciplinary conversations, panels, and exchanges with scholars from other professional organizations and fields, perhaps through experimental panel exchanges. Finally, I would like to help the WHA grow and sustain our membership by advocating for formalized mentorship and training sessions between students, self-sustaining scholars, public historians, and adjunct, junior, associate, and senior faculty/scholars. Since I was a doctoral student, I have attended the WHA annual meetings and have always felt the WHA offered me a welcoming intellectual space. I hope to continue serving the WHA in whatever capacity possible and to make it a welcoming space for current and future colleagues and scholars.
Omar Valerio-Jiménez,
University of Texas at San Antonio

I am an Associate Professor of History at the University of Texas at San Antonio. After obtaining my PhD from UCLA, I was a postdoctoral fellow at SMU’s Clements Center for Southwest Studies. My research has been supported by the Western History Association, UCSD’s Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, the Charles Redd Center, the Newberry Library, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. I have taught courses on borderlands, Latinas/os, immigration, and the American West at universities in California, Iowa, New York, and Texas.

My first book, River of Hope: Forging Identity and Nation in the Rio Grande Borderlands (Duke University Press, 2013), examines state formation, cultural change, and the construction of identity in the lower Rio Grande region of southern Texas-northeastern Mexico during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. My journal articles and essays focus on Chicana/o history, gender, comparative racializations, political economy, and Latina/o studies. In addition to publishing articles in the Journal of Women’s History, the Journal of American Ethnic History, Estudios Mexicanos/Mexican Studies, and the Annals of Iowa, I have written anthology chapters on Tejanos in the U.S. Civil War, border corridos, Spanish-Mexican women, U.S.-Mexico borderlands culture, and immigration. My co-edited anthology, Major Problems in Latina/o History (Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, 2014), contains scholarly essays and primary sources for university classroom use. I am also a co-editor of The Latino Midwest Reader (University of Illinois Press, 2017), an interdisciplinary anthology that examines the history, education, literature, art, and politics of Latinos in the Midwest. My current book project, “Remembering Conquest: Mexican Americans, Memory, and Citizenship,” analyzes the ways in which memories of the U.S.-Mexico War have shaped Mexican Americans’ civil rights struggles, writing, oral discourse, and public rituals.

I have been a member of the WHA since graduate school, and am currently on the WHA’s Local Arrangements Committee. My service has included Aztlán’s editorial board, the American Historical Association’s Beveridge Grants Committee, the Southern Historical Association-Latin American and Caribbean Section’s Hanger Article Prize Committee and President, and the Latin American Studies Association’s Dissertation Prize Committee. I have enjoyed working with public school teachers through the California History-Social Science Project, Humanities Texas, and the Teaching with Primary Sources of the WHA-National Council for History Education-Library of Congress. If elected to the WHA’s Council, I would encourage the organization to continue its efforts to diversify its officers and committees, collaborate with secondary school teachers, and reach out to borderlands scholars in Mexico.

Nominating Committee Position A

Vote for one person to fill a position on the Nominating Committee.

Raúl Ramos , University of Houston

I’m an associate professor of history at the University of Houston, where I have taught for 15 years. Prior to UH, I was on the faculty at the University of Utah in the history and ethnic studies departments. I received my AB in history and Latin American studies at Princeton University and PhD at Yale University. In 2000, I did a year-long fellowship at the Clements Center for Southwest Studies at SMU. Currently in Houston, I teach graduate courses on the American West and on the Spanish American Borderlands, and undergraduate classes on 19th century Texas, early Chicano history and the US Mexico border. UNC Press published my book, Beyond the Alamo: Forging Mexican Ethnicity in San Antonio, 1821-1861 in 2008. More recently, my article, “Chicano/a Challenges to Nineteenth-Century History,” ran in the Pacific Historical Review’s November 2013 issue.

The WHA has been an important organization for development as a scholar from graduate school to the present. I have participated in a variety of capacities since the 1990s, including panelist, moderator, program committee member and award reviewer. I’m eager to serve the organization on the nominating committee by recruiting leadership that will continue to develop the WHA as a place where new scholarship engages many publics. I saw the importance of this work last year when Chicano scholars came together to critique a politicized Mexican American Studies textbook in Texas. I witnessed the potential of nominating committee work serving on the AHA nominating committee from 2011-2013. That experience emphasized the need to draw from a diversity of institutions and a range of scholars operating in a wide-range of capacities.

Brian DeLay, University of California Berkeley

I’m an associate professor of history at UC Berkeley, where I teach borderlands, early America, indigenous history, and the transnational history of the Americas. My first book, War of a Thousand Deserts, explained how Indians shaped the era of the U.S.-Mexican War. Since then I’ve written on a variety of topics, including instability in the 19th and 21st century borderlands; the connection between guns and governance in Mexico’s post-independence history; Lincoln's policy toward the French Intervention; violence and belonging on the Navajo-New Mexican frontier; John Singleton Copley’s iconic painting Watson and the Shark; Indians and U.S. Empire; the U.S. arms industry; and international relations between indigenous polities. I’m the editor of North American Borderlands (Routledge, 2012), and the coauthor of the U.S. history textbook Experience History. My current book project “Shoot the State” explores the connection between guns, freedom, and domination in the Americas from the age of revolutions through World War II.

I’ve been attending the WHA for nearly twenty years now and continue to be grateful for the professional support, the intellectual community, and the friendships it’s helped me make and sustain. Over the years I’ve served on the Ewers, WHA-Huntington Library Martin Ridge, and Weber-Clements prize committees, but still owe the organization much more than I’ve given back. If I had the opportunity to serve on the nominating committee, I’d advocate for colleagues who can help the WHA broaden its membership. The organization has in a sense been a victim of its own success. To a far greater extent than when I was in graduate school, colleagues in other fields now see Western History as a source of some of the most innovative and consequential scholarship in the profession. But now that our regional organization is (rightly) viewed as much more than a regional organization, we need to be energetic in recruiting new members and pushing the topical and intellectual boundaries of our conference and community.

Nominating Committee Position B

Vote for one person to fill a position on the Nominating Committee.

Mary E. Mendoza, University of Vermont

Mary E. Mendoza is an Assistant Professor of History and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at the University of Vermont and was most recently the David and Dana Dornsife Fellow for Historical Work in the American West at the Huntington Library. In 2018-19 she will be the David J. Weber Fellow at the Clements Center for Southwest Studies and begin an appointment as Assistant Professor of History and Latinx Studies at Penn State University.  Mendoza received her B.A. from Middlebury College in 2006, an M.A. in U.S. History from American University in 2010, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis in 2012 and 2015.  Her work focuses on the intersections of environmental and borderlands history and she teaches courses on modern U.S. history, race in the American West, environmental history, Chicano history, and borderlands history.

Mendoza’s current book project, Unnatural Border: Race and Environment at the U.S.-Mexico Divide, explores the connections between the natural and built environments along the U.S.-Mexico border. Specifically, Mendoza writes about the history of fence construction along the border, the ways that nature has shaped and been shaped by construction, and how fences, though practically powerless to stop the movement of dynamic nature, have become a symbol of a racialized landscape of power, control, and exclusion. Mendoza has also written about migration, public health, race and racism, ableism, and U.S.-Mexico relations and is co-editing an anthology on race and environment tentatively titled, Not Just Green, Not Just White: Race, Justice, and Environmental History. She has received major grants and fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the Smithsonian, the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Huntington Library, the Clements Center for Southwest Studies and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.

The WHA has provided an intellectual home and a supportive community for Mendoza since her earliest days in graduate school. She has served on the Program Committee and as a member and now chair of the Committee on Race in the American West (CRAW). In recent years, Mendoza has worked with other members in CRAW and in the Coalition for Western Women’s History to create an annual reception at our annual meetings where those interested issues related to race and gender can come together to discuss their work as well as their experiences in the academy. Mendoza also served a critical role in the creation of the new Vicki Ruiz Award (the first article award named for a woman of color) as well as the newly founded Committee on Assault Response and Educational Strategies (WHA-CARES), which will work to provide resources for those facing challenges at their home institutions and/or within the WHA. If elected to the Nominating Committee, Mendoza will continue this work by ensuring that the leadership of the WHA—those who are nominated for governance positions—will reflect and consider the diversity of the American West as both a field of study and a region.

Elizabeth Escobedo, University of Denver

Elizabeth Escobedo is an associate professor of Latina/o history, with a specialization in 20th century Mexican American history, at the University of Denver. She enjoys teaching a wide-range of topics in U.S. history, including modern America, the Latina/o and Chicana/o experience, women and gender, and the history of race and ethnicity in America. Her book, From Coveralls to Zoot Suits: The Lives of Mexican American Women on the World War II Home Front (University of North Carolina Press, 2013), received the CWWH’s Armitage-Jameson Book Prize in 2014 and the Best History Book—English Prize from the International Latino Book Awards in 2015. Her current book project is a comparative history of Mexican American and Puerto Rican women in the World War II U.S. military. 

Escobedo is a dedicated member of the WHA community, having served on the Annual Meeting Program Committee, and the Editorial Board of the Western Historical Quarterly. Additionally, she served on, and chaired, the Jensen-Miller Award in Women's and Gender History Prize Committee. As a member of the WHA Nominating Committee, she would look forward to continuing and enriching her involvement with the organization, seeking candidates who will represent the richness and diversity of ideas and peoples of the American West.

Nominating Committee Position C

Vote for one person to fill a position on the Nominating Committee.

Jeff Pappas, New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs

In 2012, Jeff Pappas was named New Mexico State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) by Governor Susana Martinez, where he leads a team of 30 cultural resource professionals in a variety of preservation projects and activities.  Originally from Worcester, MA, Pappas attended college at Brigham Young University, earning a BA in Political Science.  Adopting the American West as home, he enrolled at Baylor University, earning an MA in American Studies while serving a two-year research assistantship at Baylor’s Institute for Oral History.  Between his first and second year at Baylor, Pappas accepted a summer fellowship with History Associates Incorporated in Rockville, MD, where he edited oral history transcripts later converted to a book-length study of the Roadway Trucking Company.  Following his time in Texas, Pappas joined the National Park Service, where he spent the next 20 years working primarily at Yosemite National Park.  During this time, he earned a Ph.D. in American Indian and Public History at Arizona State University.  His dissertation, Forest Scholars: The Early History of Nature Guiding at Yosemite National Park, 1913-1925, looked closely at the origins of the NPS education and interpretive program, highlighting the contributions of two of its founding rangers, Drs. Harold Bryant and Loye H. Miller.  During his time at Yosemite, Pappas began teaching part-time at Colorado State University, where he taught courses in public history and the history of America’s national parks.  As New Mexico SHPO, he joined the faculty at UNM’s School of Architecture and Planning, teaching applied courses focused on the National Register and the federal preservation compliance process.  Pappas has served on a variety of national boards, including the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers, the National Council on Public History, and local New Mexico boards for the state’s Heritage Preservation Alliance and the Aldo Leopold Writing Program.  An active member of the Western History Association, Pappas is the current chair of the Michael P. Malone Award committee.  I’m interested in serving on the Nominating Committee because, as an applied historian, I can bring a perspective that speaks particularly for historic preservation and the larger cultural resource management community, which, in the American West, is largely comprised of archaeologists and cultural anthropologists.  I’ve been a strong proponent in sustaining the work of historians in public history careers, something the WHA has actively supported.

Carolyn Brucken, Autry Museum

I am Senior Curator and Curator of Western Women’s History at the Autry Museum of the American West, a museum dedicated to telling history through interweaving stories and objects from the diverse communities of the American West, past and present. I received a PhD in American Civilization from George Washington University and a MA from the University of Delaware, Winterthur Program in American Material Culture. Since 2014, I have also partnered with Claremont Graduate University to teach a course that introduces students to western history topics and the presentation of history in museums.

I have had the pleasure to collaborate with many members of the Western History Association on numerous projects at the Autry, including the exhibitions Empire and Liberty: The Civil War and the West, Jews in the Los Angeles Mosaic, and Home Lands: How Women Made the West. I’m honored that the Autry supports both western history and public history through the Autry-WHA public history prize, and I wish to continue to promote history with a public outcome. I attend WHA conferences frequently, where I have presented papers and chaired panels, and I have served on the WHA Program Committee and the Joan Paterson Kerr Award committee.

Throughout my professional career, I have sought to bridge the worlds of public and academic history. If elected I will continue to reach out to diverse audiences for western history that includes scholars, teachers, artists, students, and the curious. The WHA has become an intellectual home, and I welcome the opportunity to shape the future of the WHA by serving on its Nominating Committee.

The WHA is hosted on the campus of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and benefits from the generous support of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Western History Association | University of Nebraska at Omaha | Department of History | 6001 Dodge Street | Omaha, NE 68182 | 

| (402) 554-5999 | westernhistoryassociation@gmail.com

The Western History Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.