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Congratulations to Ruben Flores and Ray Pence

The Society for U.S. Intellectual History is pleased to announce the results of the deliberation of this year’s Annual Book Award Committee. The committee, composed of Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen, University of Wisconsin; Robert Westbrook, University of Rochester; and Howard Brick, University of Michigan (chair), awarded this year’s prize for best book of 2014 to Ruben Flores, Backroads Pragmatists: Mexico’s Melting Pot and Civil Rights in the United States (University of Pennsylvania Press). The runner-up recognition went to K. Stephen Prince, Stories of the South: Race and the Reconstruction of Southern Identity, 1865-1915 (University of North Carolina Press). The committee sends the following statement:

Ruben Flores has written a startlingly original book about border-crossing theorists of education reform in Mexico and the United States during the first half of the twentieth century. In Backroads Pragmatists, we see a transnational flow of ideas that was fully bidirectional: Mexico’s postrevolutionary intellectuals and educational officials deployed principles of John Dewey’s Democracy and Education in fashioning a grandly ambitious program of rural schooling and national reconstruction, which subsequently impressed US social scientists and reformers in the Southwest as a model of cultural pluralism to emulate north of the border. Flores’s remarkable cast of characters includes those, such as George I. Sánchez, Marie Hughes, and Ralph L. Beals, who played pioneering roles in the 1940s court suits that ended the segregation of Mexican American students in California and Texas. In a work that represents transnational intellectual history at its best, rooted as deeply in the historiography of modern Mexico as in the US field, Flores reveals an unsuspected case of what might be called reverse modernization. We recognize Backroads Pragmatists as a major, stunning achievement.

Ray Pence received the General Electric Curatorial Research Fellowship for 2015-2016.  This will support his project, “Home Front Disability Policy Dialogues”.  He will also work as a consultant and writer for the exhibit that the Dole Institute will present starting at the end of July, 2015, which commemorates the 25thanniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.


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