Date of Award

6-2011

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

History

First Advisor

Dr. Kristin M. Szyivian

Second Advisor

Dr. Lynne Heasley

Third Advisor

Dr. Robert H. Duke

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only

Abstract

My research will consist of examining the Bracero Program for its impact on cultural exchange between the United States and Mexico. Previous scholars have studied this program with a focus on immigration, the program's policies, and its impact on domestic and foreign agricultural labor. Few incorporated the use of oral histories. This study proposes that oral histories can provide a better understanding ofthe bracero perspective in regards to Bracero Program history.

Through my analysis oforal history interviews collected primarily from the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History's database of oral histories related to the Bracero Program, my research will reveal various themes and patterns ofcultural exchange. Furthermore, it will illustrate that cultural exchange between the United States and Mexico occurred largely through bracero and Mexican American socialization. In addition to examining cultural exchange, this study uses oral histories to investigatehow the Bracero Program was a gendered experienceby impacting womenas well as the men who were contractedto harvest crops. This study concludes by raising questions regarding new ways for using oral histories to reexamine Bracero Program history and cultural exchange as well as questions about the Bracero Program's effect on current Mexican migration and guest worker programs.

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