Daniel Grant is an environmental historian of the North American West and an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in migration and the humanities at the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University. He holds a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
In this webinar, Daniel will present research from his current book project, which tells three fine-grained, interwoven stories of Cocopa Indians, Quechan Indians, and African Americans who resisted displacement at the hands of the U.S. and Mexican governments by inhabiting brushy tracts of bottomlands along the Colorado River on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border from the late-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth. Through archival and oral history research in the U.S. and Mexico, the project focuses on disparate histories of global migration—the African diaspora and Indigenous border-crossing—that converged in this localized borderland. Because neither nation-state could settle the fugitive landscape of the river’s bottomlands, the river offered these groups creative, if adaptive, strategies to maintain residence amidst increasing settler encroachment and border constraints. Fundamentally, these stories reveal what he calls social undercurrents—subtle exceptions of place-based resistance and survival roiling beneath the surface of prevailing trends of settler colonialism. Daniel will give an overview of the project and delve into a more fine-grained example. He will also discuss how these histories can inform public dialogue over shared but troubled multiracial pasts through an event he facilitated with descendants of these groups.
- Recognize how multiracial histories of human migration have converged in the Colorado River borderlands
- Analyze how the legacies of these histories manifest in contemporary conflicts over environmental justice
- Evaluate how rivers have historically been sources of both power and displacement for Native and African American communities
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