Christine Mathias

Christine Mathias's picture

I am a doctoral candidate at Yale and a historian of modern Latin America and comparative frontiers and borderlands. My dissertation, entitled “South America’s Final Frontier: Indigenous Leadership and the Long Conquest of the Gran Chaco, 1870-1955,” provides the first comprehensive history of efforts by Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia to conquer this isolated borderland region. Decades of conflict among three nascent nation-states and a panorama of independent indigenous groups produced new political subjects: indigenous leaders, known as caciques, who played decisive roles in local, regional, and national histories.

The degree and duration of conflict in the Chaco may have been exceptional, but similar processes took place across the Americas. As states devoted increasing attention to their peripheries and internal frontiers converged on national borders, native peoples were trapped between – and ultimately within – states. I argue for an alternative approach to the history of frontiers and borderlands that traces the emergence of new forms of indigenous leadership, political subjectivity, and citizenship.

My dissertation has received support from the Social Science Research Council, Fulbright, Yale’s MacMillan Center, and the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation. Previous research projects focused on anti-Chinese movements in the copper-mining enclave of Cananea, just south of the U.S.-Mexico border, and the nineteenth-century Mexican investments of U.S. gun-maker Samuel Colt. I have served as a Teaching Fellow for Colonial Latin America and the History of Brazil.

My advisors are Gilbert M. Joseph, Stuart B. Schwartz, John Mack Faragher, and Guillermo Wilde (CONICET-UNSAM, Argentina). Please email me with any questions.