Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

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  • Laura M. Shelton

    Assistant Professor of History
    717-358-4596
    Office: STA302

    Professional Biography

    I have had a long fascination with Latin America’s rural borderlands, especially why people organized their lives around their families and how business and family ties overlapped in complex ways.   My interest in these issues developed during the years I worked in the mental health field in Chicago after graduating from college, where my coworkers came from Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Honduras, and Columbia.  My book, For Tranquility and Order, explores how nineteenth-century families in northwestern Mexico used their local courtrooms to air grievances, aid loved ones, and present their personal and financial affairs before the state.  In the process, these ranchers, widows, artisans, merchants, mothers, fathers, and children did their part to build a new republican order.   My current research examines midwives and motherhood in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands from the late eighteenth century through the early twentieth century.  I am interested in understanding how the daily lives of these resourceful women changed dramatically against a backdrop of ethnic conflict, rapid modernization, and increasing international interaction among people of the United States and Mexico.

    My teaching interests include ethnohistory, the history of caste, class, and race in Latin America, and environmental history. I encourage students to engage in primary research in Latin America, a region with hundreds of overlooked state and local archives. I view education as a collaborative process in which students are active participants. The classroom and the archives are ideal places to embark on a life-long process of intellectual inquiry.

    Education

    • University of Arizona     Ph.D.            Latin American History             2004

    • Temple University           M.A.             Latin American History             1996

    • McPherson College          B.A.             Psychology & German                1989 

    • Marburg Universität                             Study Abroad                                1988-1989

      Dissertation: “Families in the Courtroom: Law, Community and Gender in Northwestern Mexico, 1800-1850.”

      M.A. Thesis: “Mexican Labor Migration to the United States, 1910-1921 and 1942-1964.”

    Research Interests

    Gender and Sexuality in Latin America

    U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

    Nineteenth-Century Latin America 

    Grants & Awards

     
    • Georgia Southern University, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Seed Grant, Spring and Summer, 2011.

    • Georgia Southern University, First Year Experience Grant, Summer and Fall, 2009

    • Georgia Southern University, Center for Excellence in Teaching, Summer Awards, Summer, 2008           

    • Georgia Southern University Writing Center Award, Most Creative Student  Writing Assignment, Fall, 2006

    • Georgia Southern University NEH Summer Grants Candidate, Campus Nominee, 2005

    • Fulbright-García Robles Fellowship, 2001-2002

    • University of Arizona Rockfellow Scholarship, 1999-2000

    Publications

    “Death and Dying in the Sonoran Borderlands, 1790-1870,” in New Mexico Historical Review, Winter, 2014.

    "Curanderos and Midwives on the Periphery of Northern Mexico, 1820-1880," in MEYIBÓ 4:7 (2013). 

    "Los indígenas y el imaginario social sobre los indígenas en los procesos de estupro y violación en el juzgado penal de Sonora, 1821-1870" in Indios, españoles y mestizos en zonas de frontera, siglos XVII-XX (Hermosillo: El Colegio de Sonora y El Colegio de Michoacán, 2013).

    For Tranquility and Order: Family and Community on Mexico’s Northern Frontier, 1800- 1850, (The University of Arizona Press, April, 2010).

    “’Las Buenas Costumbres’:  Changing Definitions of Honor in the Sonoran Borderlands, 1800-1850,” in Proceedings and Selected Papers of the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, 1750-1850, 2009. 

    “Like a Servant or Like a Son? Circulating Children in Northwestern Mexico, 1790-1850,” in Raising an Empire in Early Modern Iberia and Colonial Latin America, eds., Ondina E. González and Bianca Premo, The University of New Mexico Press (2007), 219-237.

    Presentations

    "Midwives as Intermediaries between Mothers and the Courts in Infanticide Cases on Mexico's Northern Borderlands during the 19th Century,"  Paper presented at the 15th Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, University of Toronto, Toronto, May 22-25, 2014.

    "Nuevas interpretaciones culturales y legales de la violencia más intima: el infanticidio y el abandono infantile en Sonora entre 1850 y 1910," Invited Presentation at El V Coloquio de Estudios Históricos de Región y Frontera, Hermosillo, Sonora MX, October, 2013.

    “Telling Violence in Nineteenth-Century Northern Mexico:  Narratives of Gender and Ethnicity in Sonora’s Criminal Courts after La Reforma,” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies and Pacific Coast Latin American Studies, Santa Fe, NM, April, 2013.

    “Finding Midwives and Mothers in Mexico’s Borderlands: Approaches to Studying Women and Medicine in Remote Places,” Invited Presentation at the American Association for the History of Nursing, Savannah, GA, September, 2012.

    Invited Presentation of For Tranquility and Order. Family and Community on Mexico’s Northern Frontier, 1800-1850 at the IV Coloquio de Estudios Históricos de Región y Frontera, October 19-21, 2011.

    “Los indigenas en los procesos de estupro y violación en el juzgado penal de Sonora, 1821-1870,” Paper presented at the Colegio de Sonora, IV Coloquio de Estudios Históricos de Región y Frontera, “Indígenas, historia y fronteras,” October 19-21, 2011.  Invited Presenter.

    “Midwives and Republicanism in the Sonoran Borderlands, 1790-1880” Paper presented at the 15th Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, June 9-12, 2011.

    “Death, Debt, and Inheritance: The Circulation of Petty Credit in Northwestern Mexico, 1800-1850,” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies and Pacific Coast Latin American Studies, Santa Fe, NM, March, 2009

    “From Mission Indians to Republican Mothers: Missionaries and Indigenous Women of the Río Sonora and Yaqui River Valleys of Northwestern Mexico, 1780-1860,” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association of Third World Studies, Lima, Peru, November, 2007

    “Citizenship, Servant Laws, and the Negotiation of Labor Relations in the Local Courts of Northwestern Mexico, 1800-1850.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, 1750 – 1850, Atlanta, GA, March, 2006

    “An Unbearable Existence: Rural People in Sonora, Mexico, and the Transition to Debt Peonage, 1800-1850” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, Philadelphia, PA, January, 2006

    “Respect and Veneration for Elders by All Laws Divine, Positive, and Natural: Intergenerational Relationships in Sonora, Mexico, 1800-1850.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies and Pacific Coast Latin American Studies, Tucson, AZ, March 2005

    “Adultery and the Double Standard: An Analysis of Marital Disputes in Sonora, Mexico, 1820-1850.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies and Pacific Coast Latin American Studies, Phoenix, AZ, February, 2003

    “Los procesos de rapto y estupro en el juzgado penal de Hermosillo, 1820-1840.” Paper presented at El Seminario del siglo XIX, Hermosillo, Sonora Mexico, March 2002

    “Curbing Carnal Passions: The Case of Juan Pasqual and the Regulation of Sexuality and Patriarchal Authority in Northern New Spain, 1760-1821.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies and Pacific Coast Latin American Studies, Tucson, AZ, March, 2001

    Student Collaborations

    • Franklin and Marshall College, Hackman Scholarship with Cesar Diego and Morgan Gray, Summer, 2014

    Course Information

    Colonial Latin America

    Modern Latin America

    Environmental History of Latin America

    History of Modern Mexico

    History of Gender and Sexuality in Latin America

    The History of the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands