Genevieve Carpio

2017 Hellman Fellow

Assistant Professor, Cesar E. Chavez Department of Chicana/o Studies

Project Title: Collisions at the Crossroads: Contesting Race and Mobility in the Making of California

Dr. Carpio’s research examines mobility—as the intersection between physical movement, the social meanings attached to that movement, and efforts to manage it—as an agent in the production of racial difference. Her book project, under contract with the University of California Press, applies interdisciplinary frameworks and disciplinary methods to ask how contests over mobility shape the lived experience of race and how various actors respond to this racialization. Specifically, it foregrounds how debates over mobility have shaped various waves of racial change in southern California across the 20th century. First, it asserts mobility has long been a contested ground where struggles over power and racial meaning were fiercely fought, from harassment of Japanese bicyclists to the incarceration of Mexican American drivers. Second, it demonstrates the ways migrants entering the multiracial landscape of southern California consistently attempted to navigate regional racial hierarchies through their mobility, for instance, through earning extra income by ride sharing and claiming a space as modern subjects through photographing oneself with the latest automobile. From this perspective, seemingly mundane identifications, like pioneer, bicyclist, bird of passage, and joyrider, represent a constellation of mobile-meanings with powerful materials effects. Ultimately, as an ethnic studies scholar, she aims to demonstrate the ways a mobilities perspective helps to uncover how racial categories form and operate in multiracial places.

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