The Material of Memory: 

Revisiting Our Histories of Immigration Exhibition

March-April 2017

The Material of Memory: Revisiting Our Histories of Immigration is a University of California, Irvine (UCI) undergraduate student curated exhibition and event program under the faculty directorship of Dr. Ana Elizabeth Rosas that magnified how and why the immigrant women and men participating in this revisiting of our immigration histories documented and recollected their personal investment in a diversity of emotive ties and relationships, items, and moments that made it viable for them to remain steadfast in their commitment to grow as people stretched across borders.

UCI undergraduate students enrolled in Dr. Rosas’s Fall 2016 course offerings of The Histories of Violence across the US-Mexico Borderlands and Introduction to Latina/o/x Studies invested in this intellectual endeavor of revisiting the histories that connected them to most cherished and highly regarded members of their extended families. The act of revisiting each of them entailed developing and implementing a keen sensibility for their experiences via course readings and discussions, as well as scheduling conversations and visits with them to identify the material of their memories.

The act of revisiting their immigration histories with their extended family relatives generated the participation of people from diverse generations and the collection of their revealing archival items. From this rich archive of emotions, moments, and items, an exhibition team flourished, met and worked as a seminar group under Dr. Rosas’s faculty advisement and mentorship to curate, present, and celebrate this exhibit.

The Material of Memory Team was comprised of UCI alumni: Brittney A. Bayardo, Natalie Berrios, Marleni Flores, Jazmin Jimenez, Valerie Macias, Jonathan Orozco, Stephanie K. Palomares, Meleia Simon-Reynolds, Kaitlin Overturf, and Alejandra Tantamango.

This exhibition was sponsored by UCI Illuminations, UCI’s School of Social Sciences, UCI’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture, and Inclusion, and the Department of Chicano-Latino Studies and History.

The following archival documents were among the items featured in our The Material of Memory exhibition, when on display at UCI’s Viewpoint Gallery:

Personal Collection of Alejandra Tantamango. This archival document has been preserved and was contributed to our 

The Material of Memory exhibition by Alejandra Tantamango. In 1970 in the District of Breña located in the city of Lima, Peru. Alejandra’s aunts and their friends (from left to right): Mayola, Esther, Norma, Gloria, and Miguel (the baby in the photograph) posed for this photograph at the request of her grandmother, Alejandra Calle. Her family took this photograph to document having moved from Ayacucho to Lima to “start a new life and to support her oldest aunt Norma in her path to apply to different colleges in Lima to pursue higher education. Life was challenging when this photograph was taken.” When unpacking her emotive connection to this archival document, Alejandra shared that before her passing her grandmother welcomed discussing this photograph to initiate conversations on their family’s experience, especially her having to be away from her daughters a great part of the day to work long hours away from their family home.
 Personal Collection of Diaz-Herrera Family, 1998. Information about the archival document: This archival document has been preserved and was contributed to our The Material of Memory exhibition by Ellis Diaz. This photograph showcases Elisa Herrera and Ellis Diaz’s preservation and discussion of precious clothing items as integral to their family’s emotive archive creation. The majority of the dresses featured in this photograph were worn by Ellis Diaz. Throughout her childhood, her grandmother, Elisa Herrera, took care of her and with Ellis’s support preserves clothing items that make it possible for her to recollect her experiences when caring for Ellis and her other grandchildren. When unpacking the emotive qualities of these dresses and other clothing items, Ellis shared that the “blue, pink, and floral white dress were gifts from my aunts and uncles. Since I was the baby of the family at the time, my mother really didn’t have to buy me clothes. I was everyone’s daughter as my aunts and uncles pitched in to help take care of me. My mom chose to be a single mother, and her siblings told her from the start that they would support her in any way they could.” Hence, these dresses resonate differently across generations of the Herrera-Diaz family. As when discussing her preservation of these dresses, Elisa immediately shared with Ellis that it was especially important to not forget-preserve the condition all the clothing items were and still are in. They are each in perfect shape. Ellis shared that when opening the suitcase in which her grandmother has organized and stored this clothing, her grandmother shares that she took great pride in their family taking perfect care of what they wore. It helped boost their family’s self-esteem when thriving as an immigrant family in the United States. Now, their continued preservation of such revealing clothing is Elisa and Ellis’s way of safeguarding their emotive connection and history.

Magnifying Generative Imaginaries and Transformative Relational Ethnic Studies Research and Writing

March 1, 2018

This Public Scholarship Team event stressed the revealing and relevant qualities when pursuing Ethnic Studies research and writing in a relational and inclusively humane fashion.

We celebrated and promoted the transformative trajectory and contributions of Kalfou: A Journal of Comparative and Relational Ethnic Studies and Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life as invaluable examples and resources when learning from, developing, and disseminating our approaches to magnifying the humanizing qualities of relational Ethnic Studies research and writing.

George J. Sanchez, author of Boyle Heights: How a Los Angeles Neighborhood Became the Future of American Democracy shared a fabulous presentation on his relational approach to historicizing and disseminating the multi-racial and multi-ethnic history of Boyle Heights., Los Angeles, California.

Public Scholarship Seminar Team members Maria Abigail Alvarez, Laurangel Bustos, Jocelyn A. Contreras, Petra de la Cruz, Daniel A. Garcia, Esmeralda Hic, Dulce Perez, and Alice G. Terriquez shared their public scholarship research presentations during this event.

This event was organized and hosted by Ana Elizabeth Rosas, and sponsored and funded by UCI Illuminations, UCI Humanities Commons, Office of the Dean of the School of Social Sciences, and the Departments of Chicano-Latino Studies and History.

Borders, Emotions, and Imaginaries: 

Magnifying Immigrant Experiences and Immigrant Histories

October 2018

The multi-sited and generationally diverse experiences and histories underpinning scholarship on borders, emotions, and imaginaries at the heart of immigrant experiences and immigrant histories framed our conceptualization of this October 2018 book display exhibit for the University of California, Irvine’s (UCI) Off the Shelf and On Display exhibits series hosted by UCI’s Langson Library and led by Christina J. Woo.

Our team’s curating, installation, and sharing of this book display was energized by our dedication to promoting visible and public access to learning more about the emotive configuration, range, and toll of the immigrant experience, immigration history, and immigration laws within and beyond the United States through rigorous and humane scholarship.

Each of the collaborations and publications framing the scholarship at the center of this book selection and display exhibit aspired to inspire an informed approach toward the immigrant experience, immigration histories, and immigrant rights with urgency and evidence.

Public Scholarship Team Contributors: Maria Abigail Alvarez, Petra de la Cruz, Daniel A. Garcia, Jonathan Orozco, and Dulce Perez with the faculty advisement of Dr. Ana Elizabeth Rosas.

  • The Enduring Dangers of Essentializing 
  • Labor and Laborers

April 13, 2021

This Public Scholarship Team zoom event was an opportunity to learn more about and from an upcoming special issue co-edited by George Lipsitz, Abigail Rosas, and Ana Elizabeth Rosas for Kalfou: A Journal of Comparative and Relational Ethnic Studies that centers on the under-examined and dangerous erasures and rigors of essentializing laborers and labor across a diversity of contexts, locations, and relationships.

It provided audiences to consider the following special issue themes:

The Dangerous Essentialization of Education

Dangerously Essentialized Laborers and Labor

Relational Approaches to Belonging and Exploitation


Throughout this day-long virtual event, audiences had an opportunity to learn from featured guest scholars: Misael Diaz , Elizabeth Farfan-Santos, Felipe Hinojosa, Janelle Levy, Mario Alberto Obando, Christian Paiz, Abigail Rosas, Ana Elizabeth Rosas, Amy Sanchez-Arteaga, Damien Sojoyner, Lilia Soto, and Salvador Zarate.

The opportunity to learn from a compelling keynote presentation by George Lipsitz, co-author of Insubordinate Spaces: Improvisation and Accompaniment for Social Justice and SaludArte: Building Health Equity on the Bedrock of Traditional Arts and Culture made this zoom event an invigorating experience for participating audiences.

Public Scholarship Team members: Jacqueline Mary Torres and Wendy L. Ruiz supported this event through their presentation of invited guest scholars.

This event was organized and hosted by Ana Elizabeth Rosas and sponsored and/or funded by the UCI Humanities Center, Office of the Dean of the School of Social Sciences, and the Departments of Chicano-Latino Studies and History.

Creatively Collaborative and Intergenerational:

The Power of Inclusively Humane Archive Creation and Dissemination at the University of California, Irvine

June 2, 2021

This zoom event was an opportunity to engage in a relational and interdisciplinary approach to discussing and learning about our Public Scholarship Team’s Interdisciplinary Legacies Project and the pathbreaking scholarship of Dr. Robb Hernandez, Associate Professor, English, Fordham University, author of Archiving an Epidemic: Art, AIDS, and the Queer Chicanx Avant-Garde and Dr. Lydia Otero, Associate Professor Emeritus, Mexican American Studies, University of Arizona, author of In the Shadows of the Freeway: Growing Up Brown & Queer. Each of these scholars shared their perspectives on the investigative pathways orienting their trailblazing research and writing.

Our Public Scholarship Team presented on the inspiration, lessons learned, and their contributions to our Interdisciplinary Legacies Project to introduce this project and its generative qualities within and beyond the University of California, Irvine (UCI).

It is important to note that the Interdisciplinary Legacies Project is an oral history archives project that documents the fullness of the institutional and scholarly contributions of Department of Chicano-Latino Studies faculty emeriti: Dr. Vicki L. Ruiz, Dr. Raul Fernandez, Dr. Alejandro Morales, and Dr. Gilbert G. Gonzalez. Each of these faculty members has played a decisive role in the founding and growth of the Department of Chicano-Latino Studies at UCI, making this project a unique institutional archive for our department, campus, and the fields of Chicana/o/x and Latina/o/x Studies.

Public Scholarship Team Contributors: Natalie Aguilar, Yarely Cervantes, Ana L. Delgado, Keanu Hawk Gallardo, Mariana Machaen, Melanie Mendoza, Wendy L. Ruiz, Alice G. Terriquez, Jacqueline Mary Torres, Jessica Velasquez, and Ana Elizabeth Rosas collaborated to make this event program possible.