Los Repatriados
Los Repatriados > About Us > Professor Maria Cotera

“…it’s part of embracing this place and its history. It all goes back to why I’m involved with Latino Studies—these histories are ignored or invisible. Really sort of forcing my students to see that Mexicans have been in Detroit for a long time and that they have been a marginalized community in Detroit for a long time is really important to me.”

“…you don’t need to be a Steven Spielberg, you don’t even need to be rich, you don’t even need to have time—Elena [Herrada] is super busy. You can make something that registers a history… the important thing is speaking and registering that history.”

Maria E. Cotera is a jointly appointed Assistant Professor in American Culture and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her areas of interest include US third world feminist thought, American modernism, cultural anthropology and comparative race and gender analysis, among many others.
Professor Cotera received her Ph.D. from Stanford in 2002, after producing Caballero, a historical novel written by folklorist Jovita Gonzalez in the 1920’s and 30’s, as a graduate student at the University of Texas. Since its discovery, Caballero has held the title of the earliest historical novel by a Latino writer in the 20th century. Almost seven years after moving to Michigan and teaching at the University, her work inside and outside of the classroom continues to be groundbreaking (see list and interview below). Professor Cotera boldly describes herself as ‘undisciplined’, referring to the inter-disciplinary nature of her work, which starts with posing a question, not electing a discipline. Her approach is about mobilizing different disciplines in the process of bringing about answers, allowing her to use “use a little of that and a little of this and mix them all together to answer questions that [she has] that can’t be answered by just reading history or reading books.” (see the full interview transcript)
During the last few years, Professor Cotera’s Intro to Latino/a Studies has participated on a filed trip to Southwest Detroit, which gives students an opportunity to experience Mexicantown through mural tours, visits to the local UAW office, area gallery, as well as dinning and retail venues. Throughout her active career at the University of Michigan, she has established and maintained meaningful, lasting relationships between the university and the broader community, in her efforts to bridge the divide between the university—as a community of academics, students and an institution—and the broader community in which they all reside.

Professor Cotera has been instrumental in making this project come to life. Without her advice, support, and encouragement, the repatriados website project would not have been a success.

Selected Publications (see AC213 website)

  • -Dissertation: "Native Speakers: A Comparative Analysis of the Nationalist Feminist Texts of Jovita Gonzalez Mireles and Ella Cara Deloria
  • " Caballero, co-edited with José Limón (Texas A&M Press, 1995)
  • "Engendering a 'Dialectics of Our America:' Jovita Gonzalez' Pluralist Dialogue as Feminist Testimonio," in Las Obreras: The Politics of Work and Family, ed. Vicki L. Ruiz (UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center,2000)
  • “Refiguring the ‘American Congo:’ Jovita González, John Gregory Bourke and the Battle Over Ethnohistorical Representations of the Borderlands,” in Recovering a Mexican-American West, (Western American Literature  35.1, Special Issue, Spring 2000)
  • ‘All My Relatives Are Noble’: Recovering the Feminine in Waterlily”, in American Indian Quarterly,  Special Issue, Empowerment through Literature  (Fall 2004)
  • “Jovita González and the Legacy of Borderlands Feminism,” in Latina Legacies, ed. Vicki Ruíz (Oxford University Press, 2004)
  • Editor and Introduction, Social Life in Cameron, Starr, and Zapata Counties by  Jovita González (Corpus Christi: Texas A&M Press, Forthcoming )
To view a full transcript of the interview with Professor Cotera click here.