Natalia Molina

Professor of History, Urban Studies, Latina/o Studies, Immigration, Gender, & Public Health

University of California, San Diego

about Dr. Molina

Professor Molina’s work lies at the intersections of race, gender, culture, and citizenship.

Professor Molina is the author of two award winning books. Her first book, Fit to be Citizens? Public Health and Race in Los Angeles, 1879-1939, explored the ways in which race is constructed relationally and regionally. In that work, which garnered the Noris and Carol Hundley book prize of the PCB-American Historical Association, she argues that race must be understood comparatively in order to see how the laws, practices, and attitudes directed at one racial group affected others. Fit to Be Citizens? demonstrates how both science and public health shaped the meaning of race in the early twentieth century.

Her second book, How Race Is Made in America: Immigration, Citizenship, and the Historical Power of Racial Scripts, examines Mexican immigration–from 1924 when immigration acts drastically reduced immigration to the U.S. to 1965 when many quotas were abolished–to understand how broad themes of race and citizenship are constructed. These years shaped the emergence of what she describes as an immigration regime that defined the racial categories that continue to influence perceptions in the U.S. about Mexican Americans, race, and ethnicity. Through the use of a relational lens, How Race Is Made in America demonstrates that racial scripts are easily adopted and adapted to apply to different racial groups.

Professor Molina served as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Faculty Diversity and Equity. She previously served as the Associate Dean for Arts and Humanities and before that as the Director for University of California Education Abroad Program in Granada, Córdoba, and Cádiz, Spain. She is on the Faculty Advisory Committee for the University of California’s President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. She also serves on the board of California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, is a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians, and recently concluded a five-year term on the American Quarterly, the flagship journal in American Studies, editorial board.

She enjoys opportunities for intellectual and cultural exchanges and has traveled extensively for work and pleasure to Canada, Mexico, Central America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, as well as over 30 of the 50 United States.

Books

How Race is Made in America

How Race Was Made in American

How Race Is Made in America:  Immigration, Citizenship, and the Historical Power of Racial Scripts, University of California Press, 2014

Molina demonstrates that despite the multiplicity of influences that help shape our concept of race, common themes prevail. Examining legal, political, social, and cultural sources related to immigration, she advances the theory that our understanding of race is socially constructed in relational ways—that is, in correspondence to other groups. Molina introduces and explains her central theory, racial scripts, which highlights the ways in which the lives of racialized groups are linked across time and space and thereby affect one another. How Race Is Made in America also shows that these racial scripts are easily adopted and adapted to apply to different racial groups.

Reviews

Awards

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    Susanne M. Glasscock Humanities Book Prize for Interdisciplinary Scholarship

Fit to Be Citizens?

Fit to Be Citizens

Fit to Be Citizens?: Public Health and Race in Los Angeles, 1879-1940, University of California Press, 2006

Meticulously researched and beautifully written, Fit to Be Citizens? demonstrates how both science and public health shaped the meaning of race in the early twentieth century. Through a careful examination of the experiences of Mexican, Japanese, and Chinese immigrants in Los Angeles, Natalia Molina illustrates the many ways local health officials used complexly constructed concerns about public health to demean, diminish, discipline, and ultimately define racial groups. She shows how the racialization of Mexican Americans was not simply a matter of legal exclusion or labor exploitation, but rather that scientific discourses and public health practices played a key role in assigning negative racial characteristics to the group.

The book skillfully moves beyond the binary oppositions that usually structure works in ethnic studies by deploying comparative and relational approaches that reveal the racialization of Mexican Americans as intimately associated with the relative historical and social positions of Asian Americans, African Americans, and whites. Its rich archival grounding provides a valuable history of public health in Los Angeles, living conditions among Mexican immigrants, and the ways in which regional racial categories influence national laws and practices. Molina’s compelling study advances our understanding of the complexity of racial politics, attesting that racism is not static and that different groups can occupy different places in the racial order at different times.

Reviews

Awards

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    Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association’s Norris & Carol Hundley Award

How Race Was Made in American

Awards

  • icon

    Susanne M. Glasscock Humanities Book Prize for Interdisciplinary Scholarship

How Race is Made in America

How Race Is Made in America:  Immigration, Citizenship, and the Historical Power of Racial Scripts, University of California Press, 2014

Molina demonstrates that despite the multiplicity of influences that help shape our concept of race, common themes prevail. Examining legal, political, social, and cultural sources related to immigration, she advances the theory that our understanding of race is socially constructed in relational ways—that is, in correspondence to other groups. Molina introduces and explains her central theory, racial scripts, which highlights the ways in which the lives of racialized groups are linked across time and space and thereby affect one another. How Race Is Made in America also shows that these racial scripts are easily adopted and adapted to apply to different racial groups.

Reviews

Fit to Be Citizens?

Fit to Be Citizens?: Public Health and Race in Los Angeles, 1879-1940, University of California Press, 2006

Meticulously researched and beautifully written, Fit to Be Citizens? demonstrates how both science and public health shaped the meaning of race in the early twentieth century. Through a careful examination of the experiences of Mexican, Japanese, and Chinese immigrants in Los Angeles, Natalia Molina illustrates the many ways local health officials used complexly constructed concerns about public health to demean, diminish, discipline, and ultimately define racial groups. She shows how the racialization of Mexican Americans was not simply a matter of legal exclusion or labor exploitation, but rather that scientific discourses and public health practices played a key role in assigning negative racial characteristics to the group.

The book skillfully moves beyond the binary oppositions that usually structure works in ethnic studies by deploying comparative and relational approaches that reveal the racialization of Mexican Americans as intimately associated with the relative historical and social positions of Asian Americans, African Americans, and whites. Its rich archival grounding provides a valuable history of public health in Los Angeles, living conditions among Mexican immigrants, and the ways in which regional racial categories influence national laws and practices. Molina’s compelling study advances our understanding of the complexity of racial politics, attesting that racism is not static and that different groups can occupy different places in the racial order at different times.

Reviews

Fit to Be Citizens

Awards

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    Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association’s Norris & Carol Hundley Award

Selected Articles

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    Southern California Quarterly

    “The Importance of Place and Place-makers in the Life of a Los Angeles Community: What Gentrification Erases from Echo Park”
    Volume 97, Spring 2015 No. 1, pp. 69-111.

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    Western Historical Quarterly

    “The Long Arc of Dispossession: Racial Capitalism and Contested Notions of Citizenship in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands in the Early Twentieth Century”
    Winter 2014 issue, 45.4.

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    Pacific Historical Review

    “Examining Chicana/o History through a Relational Lens,” part of the special issue on “Chicana/o History,”
    Vol. 82, No. 4, November 2013, 520-541.

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    American Journal of Public Health

    “Borders, Laborers, and Racialized Medicalization: Mexican Immigration and US Public Health Policy in the Twentieth-Century”
    101 no. 6 (2011), 1024-1031.

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    Radical History Review

    “Medicalizing the Mexican: Immigration, Race, and Disability in the Early Twentieth Century United States”
    December 2005, pp. 22-37.

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    Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies

    “Illustrating Cultural Authority: Medicalized Representations of Mexican Communities in Early Twentieth Century Los Angeles”
    Spring 2003, pp. 129-143.

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    Southern California Quarterly

    “The Importance of Place and Place-makers in the Life of a Los Angeles Community: What Gentrification Erases from Echo Park”
    Volume 97, Spring 2015 No. 1, pp. 69-111.

  • icon

    Western Historical Quarterly

    “The Long Arc of Dispossession: Racial Capitalism and Contested Notions of Citizenship in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands in the Early Twentieth Century”
    Winter 2014 issue, 45.4.

  • icon

    Pacific Historical Review

    “Examining Chicana/o History through a Relational Lens,” part of the special issue on “Chicana/o History,”
    Vol. 82, No. 4, November 2013, 520-541.

  • icon

    American Journal of Public Health

    “Borders, Laborers, and Racialized Medicalization: Mexican Immigration and US Public Health Policy in the Twentieth-Century”
    101 no. 6 (2011), 1024-1031.

  • icon

    Radical History Review

    “Medicalizing the Mexican: Immigration, Race, and Disability in the Early Twentieth Century United States”
    December 2005, pp. 22-37.

  • icon

    Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies

    “Illustrating Cultural Authority: Medicalized Representations of Mexican Communities in Early Twentieth Century Los Angeles”
    Spring 2003, pp. 129-143.

Curriculum Vitae

Academic & Administrative Appointments

Academic

  • 2015-present

    Professor, Department of History & Urban Studies Program, University of California, San Diego

  • 2010-2015

    Associate Professor, Department of History & Urban Studies Program, University of California, San Diego

  • 2006-2010

    Associate Professor, Department of Ethnic Studies & Urban Studies Program, University of California, San Diego

  • 2001-2006

    Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies & Urban Studies, University of California, San Diego

  • 1998-1999

    Lecturer, Antioch University, Marina del Rey, California

Administrative

  • 2014-2015

    Associate Vice Chancellor for Faculty Diversity and Equity

  • 2011-2014

    Associate Dean for Faculty Equity, Division of Arts & Humanities

  • 2008-2010

    Director of Graduate Studies, Ethnic Studies Department

  • 2007-2008

    Director for University of California Education Abroad Program in Granada, Córdoba, & Cádiz, Spain

Education

  • B.A.

    History & Women’s Studies Double Major University of California, Los Angeles

  • M.A.

    U.S. History University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

  • Ph.D.

    U.S. History University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Education

  • B.A.

    History & Women’s Studies Double Major University of California, Los Angeles

  • M.A.

    U.S. History University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

  • Ph.D.

    U.S. History University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Teaching

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    Chicana/o History

    350 student lecture course

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    Dimensions of Culture: Diversity

    350 student lecture course Thurgood Marshall College Freshmen course

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    Gender & Immigration

    Senior Seminar & Graduate Seminar

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    The History of Race in the United States; Race and the City

    Senior Seminar & Graduate Seminar

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    Race, Disease and Globalization; Race, Health and Inequality

    Upper Division & Graduate Seminar

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    Masters Theses Preparation

    Graduate Seminar

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    Multicultural Pedagogy

    Teacher Credential Program

Contact

If you would like to get in contact with Professor Molina, please email her at:

nmolina@ucsd.edu