New Mexico has a long and interesting history; however, New Mexicans and their histories sometimes are not recorded forcing them to only be recorded in the memories of loved ones. This trend hurts the understanding of New Mexicans, their culture and their history.
Honors Assistant Professor, Myrriah Gómez, and Spanish and Portuguese Associate Professor, Anna Nogar, are working to change that through their research project, “Voces de Nuevo México.”
The Voces de Nuevo México project focuses on native Hispano Nuevo Méxicanos born between the years 1942 and 1967. The study intends to gather the stories of New Mexicans to ensure their histories are not lost over the years.
Both Gómez and Nogar agree there needed to be more value placed on the experiences New Mexicans lived through even saying, “Often, the most interesting and consequential histories, stories and historias are the ones surrounding us, but we have to be reminded that they are there, to listen to them and to recognize the value in them, even when they are not always perceived as worthwhile from without (or even within) the community.”
The Baby Boomer Generation
Prior the Voces de Nuevo México project, the scholarly research on traditional cultural practices of New Mexico and its native inhabitants were slim and focused mostly on generations born prior to World War II. There were no published studies that focus on the histories of the “Baby Boomer” generation in New Mexico who were born between the early-to-mid 1940s through the mid-1960s.
However, the Baby Boomer generation in New Mexico experienced a major cultural shift in the state. The Baby Boomer generation experienced a wave of re-identification along with facing the brunt of integrating the English language into public schools in New Mexico. In addition, the Baby Boomer generation was the first generation to see the conversion of a rural, primarily agricultural economy to an urban, nuclear one.
The Voces de Nuevo México project is unique not only in the research aspect, but also with who the researchers are. This oral history project currently has 34 undergraduate and one graduate student working on the project.
Majority of the students joined the project in the 2018 fall semester as a part of a cross-college collaborative teaching experiment in the Honors College and Department of Spanish and Portuguese. This project also includes graduate student, Julianna Wiggins, an Honors, Journalism, and Spanish and Portuguese graduate of UNM who is currently completing an MA in Hispanic Southwest Studies in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.
While the number of students working on research projects varies based on the type of project, the Voces de Nuevo México project definitely has a larger number of undergraduate researchers than a typical oral history project.
It was important to Gómez and Nogar that they created a collaborative course that gave students the interdisciplinary skills necessary for ethnographic research and empowers them to use these skills and the related technology when conducting research.
Gómez and Nogar have high hopes for the impact of the Voces de Nuevo México project saying, “We hope this project can serve as an example for other faculty members interested in involving students in large-scale research projects and cross-college humanities research collaboration. We also hope this project can help establish an Oral History Center at UNM.”
The Voces de Nuevo México Baby Boomer Oral History Project will be presenting their findings thus far on Dec. 11 from 12:30-2:30 p.m. at the Salon Ortega at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.
This event is open to the public. The National Hispanic Cultural Center is located at 1701 4th Street S.W.