Cara Kinnally studies the hidden and lost histories of Hispanic communities. Through her current book project, Between Two Empires: Spanishness, Whiteness, and Transnational Collaboration in Greater Mexico, Kinnally hopes to show the longevity of the Hispanic presence in the U.S., as well as the diversity and richness of Hispanic literary production.
Kinnally, an Assistant Professor of Spanish in the School of Languages of Cultures, says that she is interested in recovering lost Hispanic histories from the 19th century because conversations about Hispanic identities and racism were more open then. “There’s a lot of overt racism against Chicano and Chicana communities in the 20th century,” says Kinnally, “but in the 19th century people could imagine different conversations happening.”
One of the other reasons Kinnally is pursuing the recovery of lost and forgotten histories is because she feels they are relevant to current issues that Hispanic communities face within the U.S. “I feel really connected to current debates about immigration. For me it helps to understand the history of Chicanos within the U.S. in connection with things happening today.” In particular, Kinnally points to the fact that many early “immigrants” were actually living in areas that were controlled by Mexico before they became U.S. states, which is often overlooked today.