Working at the Crossroads: A Guide for Border Crossing

  • John Mckiernan-González Temple University Press


This article discusses the impact of George J. Sánchez’s keynote address “Working at the Crossroads” in making collaborative cross-border projects more academically legitimate in American studies and associated disciplines. The keynote and his ongoing administrative labor model the power of public collaborative work to shift research narratives. “Working at the Crossroads” demonstrated how historians can be involved—as historians—in a variety of social movements, and pointed to the ways these interactions can, and maybe should, shape research trajectories. It provided a key blueprint and key examples for doing historically informed Latina/o studies scholarship with people working outside the university. Judging by the success of Sánchez’s work with Boyle Heights and East LA, projects need to establish multiple entry points, reward participants at all levels, and connect people across generations.

I then discuss how I sought to emulate George Sánchez’s proposals in my own work through partnering with labor organizations, developing biographical public art projects with students, and archiving social and cultural histories. His keynote address made a back-and-forth movement between home communities and academic labor seem easy and professionally rewarding as well as politically necessary, especially in public universities.