June 19, 2012

Alejandra Gonzalez Jimenez: Latin American History and Cultural Anthropology

http://cunyba.gc.cuny.edu/blog/alejandra-gonzalez-jimenez-latin-american-history-and-cultural-anthropology/alejandra-gonzalez-1/ Alejandra Gonzalez Jimenez
Latin American History and Cultural Anthropology
B.A. 2007, Magna cum Laude
Home College: City College
Faculty Mentors: Prof. Susan Besse, History, City College and Marc Edelman, Anthropology, Hunter College
Thomas W. Smith Academic Fellowship
Diego Hidalgo Scholarship for Political Science/International Affairs
Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship
Diego Hidalgo Scholarship for Graduate Studies

Alejandra Gonzalez Jimenez grew up in Mexico and came to New York City in 1998. She worked different jobs and volunteered with the Latino community in East Harlem but
soon realized that only a college degree would allow her to advance in her work and in volunteering.  She became a student at City College and, finding her CUNY classes highly enjoyable, soon became hooked.  Joining CUNY BA allowed her to delve into her newly found passion: the history and anthropology of Latin America.

As a returning adult to college, Alejandra deeply appreciated the way CUNY BA is structured as it allows students a large degree of independence while at the same time enabling them to work closely with faculty mentors – in Alejandra’s case, historian Susan Besse at City College and anthropologist Marc Edelman at Hunter College. Being slightly older than many of her colleagues, Alejandra was grateful for the opportunity to take charge of her education and to create her own field of study. Doing so, she finds, gives students an early taste of graduate school. In addition to being a member of CUNY BA, in 2005 Alejandra received the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, which allowed her to present her work at conferences, attend workshops, and network with scholars and students at different stages of their careers. Being a CUNY BA student and a Mellon fellow increasingly enabled Alejandra to imagine herself in graduate school and academia.

Alejandra’s coursework at Baruch College, City College, Hunter College, and the Graduate Center was enriched by spending a semester abroad at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, which allowed her to gain a comparative perspective on the postcolonial trajectories of the Middle East and Latin America. Back in New York City, Alejandra embarked on her first research project: the careful analysis of the life history of Maria, a Mexican immigrant and single mother in Brooklyn. Alejandra spent hours accompanying Maria, interviewing her, transcribing the interviews, and finally writing a sensitive account of Maria’s life. A grant by the Research Award Leadership Alliance Summer Program enabled Alejandra to spend the summer of 2006 at Cornell University where she studied the genre of life-histories and worked further on her account of Maria’s life under the critical guidance of Professor Vilma Santiago-Irizarry. The products of that summer are entitled Life History:
A Glimpse into Mexican Immigration
and Crossing Borders: A Life History in New York City.

Before graduating from CUNY BA, Alejandra was accepted into the PhD program in the Anthropology Department at the CUNY Graduate Center. She is now completing her PhD at the University of Toronto. Having recently returned from fourteen months of fieldwork in Puebla, Mexico, she is currently writing her dissertation – preliminary entitled Volkswagen de Mexico: The Car as a National Fetish, – in which she examines the intertwinements of this German car industry with Mexico’s modernization project since 1967 and the ways in which culturally, historically, as well as instrumentally, this auto-industry is today an example of ‘good capitalism.’ As such, this examination will delve into how the Volkswagen car -especially the old Beetle-, as the primary commodity of industrial capitalism, has become a living being and a family member in car clubs. Alejandra’s research is supported by grants from the Social Sciences Research Council of Canada (2010) and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (2011).

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