Lydia R. Otero is an associate professor and teaches courses in culture and history. Otero received a master’s degree in history from California State University, Los Angles, and a Ph.D., also in history, from the University of Arizona. Otero’s work on claiming place, historic preservation, and Mexican American resistance have appeared as contributions to various anthologies. She is the author of La Calle: Spatial Conflicts and Urban Renewal in a Southwestern City, which was published in the fall of 2010 by the University of Arizona Press. Having deep family roots on both sides of the Arizona-Sonora border inspired Otero’s interest in regional history. The professor’s next book project examines how Mexican American activism transformed the implementation of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Model Cities Program in Tucson during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Otero is the 2010-2011 chair of the Organization of American Historians’ Committee on the Status of African American, Latino/a, Asian American, and Native American (ALANA) Historians and ALANA Histories. Currently, Otero serves as the MAS Director of Graduate Studies, and directs the department’s public history program, Nuestras Tierras, Nuestras Culturas, Nuestras Historias that is designed to reclaim, preserve, and document the experiences and contributions of people of Mexican descent in the United States-Mexico border region.
Ph.D. in History, University of Arizona, 2003
Mexican Immigration, Chicana/o culture and history; histories of diverse ethnic groups in the Southwest, with an emphasis on Chicanas/os, gender and racial formations, border, urban, cultural and social history; Undocumented: Mexican Americans in Tucson during the Depression Years; urban renewal, historical preservation and the politics of saving a Mexican past.
My newest research examines how Mexican American activism transformed the implementation of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Model Cities Program in Tucson during the late 1960s and early 1970s. I am also writing a geographical history of Tucson's Southside.
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NEWEST AND ONGOING PROJECT: CLUB IRIS
In collaboration with the Bisbee History and Mining Museum , I am currently working to document the history of Club Iris. Since 1947 this group met regularly for three years, set the model for other groups in the area and provided important social opportunities for themselves and the larger community. In retrospect, revisiting their organizing efforts offers an opportunity to examine the larger issues that unified post World War youth in Southern Arizona and investigate how this moment in time affected Mexican American career choices and professional opportunities. Some members of Club Iris and their families moved to different cities to pursue a variety of activities, but many remained in Bisbee. This oral history collection project documents the experiences and historical contributions of Mexican Americans and examines the familial and intergenerational networks that emerged and empowered its members. Their vantage point promises to provide important insight into the history of the Mexican Americans in Bisbee and the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands.