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Humans of the U: Erin Graham

“I am a historian of Latin America, focusing on gender, labor and migration in Mexico and in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. My graduate work and subsequent research and teaching experiences prepared me to teach a wide range of classes in Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies, and History.     

I have been fascinated by history since my childhood. The field of history allows me to see and contextualize current events through lenses offered by the past. Everything happening today is inextricably linked to the past, and the present context emerges from a flow of events that we can help link together.   

Over my academic career, I have had the privilege of teaching many different courses. Here at the U, I have enjoyed teaching Intro to Ethnic Studies and Intro to Gender Studies. Students come to these courses from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds and they bring unique insights to the class that make for great discussions. I am also teaching a class for Ethnic Studies about the shared history between Mexico and the United States. I love teaching this class because it helps students understand how the shared past of the U.S. and Mexico helps explain contemporary events, policies, rhetoric, and dynamics. 

Historians think a lot about how the past and present reflect both similarities and differences, which results in complexities about our understanding and interpretation of events. History offers us the ability to contextualize what is happening today not as a snapshot in time, but as part of a longer, multi-pronged timeline with lots of different variables and factors leading to what we see today. 

As an educator, I am thrilled when students have new realizations about our world today after more deeply studying the past. Providing students with opportunities to make connections to the past allows them to broaden their perspectives. I especially enjoy building a classroom community with students as we learn about history together. 

Outside of the classroom, I have some exciting projects planned that will allow me to engage on a deeper level with smaller groups of students on history projects and I’m really looking forward to what we will create together. Whether in the classroom or outside of the classroom, allowing students to share ideas, to listen and learn from each other and to create a collaborative community helps learning advance. I am always learning as a teacher and I am excited to continue to provide students with opportunities to learn.

— Erin Graham, associate professor (lecturer), gender studies and ethnic studies