Feminist Research Institute Awards Dr. Bernadine Hernández the Distinguished Feminist Research Lecture Award

October 20, 2022

Feminist Research Institute Awards Dr. Bernadine Hernández the Distinguished Feminist Research Lecture Award

Dr. Bernadine Hernández, an Associate professor of American Literary History in the Department of English, recently received the Distinguished Feminist Research Lecture award from the Feminist Research Institute.  Since 2016, the Feminist Research Institute has recognized a UNM faculty member whose scholarly record of research and publication embody and reflect the mission of the Institute.

Dr. Hernández specializes in transnational feminism and sexual economies of the US-Mexico borderlands, along with American Literary Studies/Empire, border and migration history and theory, and Chicana/Latina Literature and Sexualities. Her book Border Bodies: Racialized Sexuality, Sexual Capital, and Violence in the Nineteenth Century Borderlands (UNC Press, 2022), is the first book-length study that focuses on sexual capital and gender and sexual violence in the borderlands in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries through recovered archival work. 

 In this study of sex, gender, sexual violence, and power along the border, Bernadine Marie Hernández brings to light under-heard stories of women who lived in a critical era of American history. Elaborating on the concept of sexual capital, she uses little-known newspapers and periodicals, letters, testimonios, court cases, short stories, and photographs to reveal how sex, violence, and capital conspired to govern not only women’s bodies but their role in the changing American Southwest. Hernández focuses on a time when the borderlands saw a rapid influx of white settlers who encountered elite landholding Californios, Hispanos, and Tejanos. Sex was inseparable from power in the borderlands, and women were integral to the stabilization of that power.

In drawing these stories from the archive, Hernández illuminates contemporary ideas of sexuality through the lens of the borderland’s history of expansionist, violent, and gendered conquest. By extension, Hernández argues that Mexicana, Nuevomexicana, Californiana, and Tejana women were key actors in the formation of the western United States, even as they are too often erased from the region’s story.

"I am honored to be giving the Fifth Annual Distinguished Feminist Research Lecture because I have a deep investment in issues of gender, sex, sexuality, and race. I also am an alumni of UNM and care so much about how my research intersects with my teaching in ways that exemplify the issues that are going on within our community, such as violence against women of color. I hope to bring light to issues that affect the greater southwest borderlands area and Chicana’s."

Dr. Hernández is also the co-editor of the first edited collection on Ana Castillo titled New Transnational Latinx Perspectives on Ana Castillo (University of Pittsburg Press, 2021). Her other publications appear in Comparative Literature and Culture, TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly, among others. She is also a public facing scholar and works with the artist and writer collective fronteristxs, a collective of artists and writers in New Mexico working to end migrant detention and abolish the prison industrial complex through creative activism. She sits on the City of Albuquerque Public Arts Board and is launching a Border Literacy Project with the fronteristxs. Her forthcoming community-engaged scholarship is a five-year project titled The South Valley Solidarity Economies Development Network, which is a collaborative project to create solidarity economies in the South Valley of Albuquerque, New Mexico through youth programming, ages 5-25.

Dr. Hernández will deliver a lecture entitled, “Border Bodies: Racialized Sexuality, Sexual Capital, and Violence in the Nineteenth-Century Borderlands.” Dr. Hernández will deliver the lecture in the Frank Waters Room in the historic west wing of Zimmerman Library on October 27th, 2022. The lecture begins at 5:30pm and is free and open to the public and will be live-streamed.  The event will also feature a book signing and reception immediately following the lecture.