With much sadness, I write of the passing last night of historian Camille Guérin-Gonzales, in Madison, Wisconsin.
As many of us remember, Camille helped found MALCS, was active during a stint spent at UC Davis and later, while on the faculties of UCLA (founding member of what is now the Dept. of Chicana/o Studies there), Colorado/Boulder, and Madison. She provided insights at our many gatherings about class, labor, especially women’s labor, and wrote passionately about these subjects in comparative perspective (as noted in her bio below).
After facing bravely and courageously a life-threatening illness, she and her partner, Susan Johnson, also of UW-Madison, lived married life fully and joyfully. Please remember Susan, their three adult surviving children, many grandchildren, and one great grandchild that Camille was able to meet on her last trip to California, in your blessings, prayers, and ceremonies. Please bring your memories or photos of Camille to MALCS/Albuquerque in late July and we can celebrate her life there, too.
Deena J. González
Biography (September 2014)
Camille Guérin-Gonzales is Professor Emerita of History at UW-Madison. She joined the faculty of the Chicana/o Studies Program in 2001, and became director of the program in 2003. During her years as director, the Chicana/o Studies Program became the Chican@ and Latin@ Studies Program and attracted 15 new faculty affiliates. As a result of this redesign and growth, over the next half-decade, the average number of students pursuing a Certificate in Chican@ and Latin@ Studies increased by more than 250 percent, from about 3 each year to about 16 each year. In addition to her work with the Program, she also served as Director of Undergraduate Studies and Associate Chair of UW’s Department of History.
Professor Guérin-Gonzales received her Ph.D. in History from the University of California, Riverside, in 1985. Before arriving in Madison, she taught at the University of Colorado at Boulder, at Oberlin College, and at the University of California, Los Angeles. At the University of Colorado, she served as Faculty Advisor to El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA), and at Oberlin she was Faculty Advisor to La Union de Estudiantes Latinos. At UCLA, she was among the six founding faculty of the new César Chávez Center for Interdisciplinary Chicana & Chicano Studies (now a full-fledged department) established in 1996. She also served as Chair of that unit.
Professor Guérin-Gonzales has centered her research, teaching, and service on labor and working-class history and on the history of race and nationalisms. She is the author of Mexican Workers and American Dreams: Immigration, Repatriation, and California Farm Labor, 1900-1939, and the coeditor of The Politics of Immigrant Workers: Essays on Labor Activism and Migration in the World Economy. In recent years, her scholarship has focused on the comparative history of coal mining communities in Appalachia, South Wales, and the U.S. Southwest. For that work, she received grants and fellowships from the Institute for Research in the Humanities at UW, from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and from the Ford Foundation. Before her retirement, she taught courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level on U.S. labor and working-class history, on social movements, on comparative race and nationalisms, on Chicana/o and Latina/o history, on immigration history, and on the history of the U.S. Southwest. She has spoken to community audiences gathered by humanities councils, labor unions, student organizations, and Latina/o advocacy groups. In addition to her many professional affiliations, she is a founding member of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social (MALCS), and of the Labor and Working-Class History Association (LAWCHA).
Beyond all of this, Professor Guérin-Gonzales is the mother of three adult children, the grandmother of seven, the great-grandmother of one, and the spouse of Professor Susan Johnson, who is also a faculty affiliate of the Chican@ and Latin@ Studies Program. Professor Guérin- Gonzales is a manita from northern New Mexico, and her life’s work has been dedicated to an understanding of difference and power in all their complexity, and to the pursuit of social justice that flows out of that understanding.