From 2005 to 2009 the National Museum of American History embarked on one of its most ambitious collecting projects, focused on documenting experiences around the Bracero Program, the largest guest worker program in American History. This article focuses on the dilemmas of documenting memory through oral history for the Bracero History Archive and the reception of the National Museum of American History’s exhibit, Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942–1964. The present day political and social context in which these oral histories were collected left indelible marks on how the program is remembered. The retelling of bracero history also reveals contemporary concerns with the role that Mexican agricultural workers play in American society and sheds light on the national dilemma of immigration reform.
From Ephemeral to Enduring: The Politics of Recording and Exhibiting Bracero Memory
Mireya Loza earned her PhD in American Studies from Brown University. Her areas of research include Mexican American history, labor history, oral history, and public humanities. As a graduate student she spent six years as a collaborator on the National Museum of American History’s Bracero History Project. She is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Latina/o Studies and the Department of History at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
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Mireya Loza; From Ephemeral to Enduring: The Politics of Recording and Exhibiting Bracero Memory. The Public Historian 1 May 2016; 38 (2): 23–41. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2016.38.2.23
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