Marla A. Ramírez
Position title: Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity Fellow (2023-2024)
Assistant Professor, History; Chican@ & Latin@ Studies, UW–Madison
Banished Women: A Hidden History of Mexican Repatriation
Banished Women tells the history of forced and coerced relocations of Mexican Americans from the US to Mexico during the Great Depression, a process commonly referred to as Mexican repatriation. Banished Women demonstrates that these so-called “repatriation” raids were originally orchestrated to remove Mexican immigrants during the economic crisis. However, these efforts soon became an avenue for forcibly expelling American citizens of Mexican descent, particularly working-class women and children. Banished Women offers an important theoretical corrective: the term “repatriation” was a classist and racist trope that disguised the forced and coerced mass removals of Mexican Americans, which can only be properly understood as banishment. Banishment refers to the forced expulsion of US citizens to another nation, usually their ethnic country of origin. Xenophobic immigration policies were seen as economic recovery solutions, resulting in the expulsion of an estimated 1 million ethnic Mexicans, a startling sixty percent were US citizens of Mexican descent. Through the oral histories of banished women and their families, across three generations, personal collections, and archival research, I examine the prolonged consequences of banishment. I argue that banishment was a strategic, bi-national political tool that interrupted Mexican Americans’ right to derivative citizenship, robbing them of transgenerational wealth, drastically slowing upward mobility, and debilitating the mass political power of Mexican Americans.
Marla A. Ramírez is a historian of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands with specialization in Mexican American banishment, Mexican repatriation, oral history, and gendered migrations. She is an Assistant Professor of History and Chican@ & Latin@ Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Professor Ramírez completed her Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Barbara in Chicana and Chicano Studies with a concentration in US history and a doctoral emphasis on feminist studies. For the 2018-19 academic year, she was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard. She previously held an Assistant Professor position at San Francisco State University and a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Professor Ramírez’s has published articles in the journal of Latino Studies, New Political Science, Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies, and Social Justice: A Journal of Crime, Conflict & World Order. Her research has been supported by the Mellon Foundation, Ford Foundation, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research & Graduate Education at UW-Madison, and the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment Grant. Her book, Banished Women: A Hidden History of Mexican Repatriation is under contract with Harvard University Press.