Headshot of Graduate Paulina Rodriguez .

Graduate Spring 2022: Paulina Rodriguez

Deportistas! Mexican Women, Sporting Citizenship, and Belonging in Twentieth Century United States

Department of History & Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Grounded in historical research methods, my dissertation “Deportistas! Mexican Women, Sporting Citizenship, and Belonging in Twentieth Century United States,” centers Mexican women athletes to interrogate questions of citizenship, as it becomes embodied in the performance of athletic labor. Through sport, sportswomen of Mexican ancestry have developed and sustained transnational networks, engaged in civil rights, contributed to shifting gender norms, and cultivated community throughout the twentieth century. This project builds on critical sports studies scholarship by historians who have demonstrated the intellectual possibilities of taking sports seriously. The expanding field has positioned sport as a fruitful site for the investigation of race, class, gender, labor, methodology, geography, capitalism, and more. Latinx Historians, in particular, have used baseball and boxing to point to the way sport opens the possibility to rethink U.S. racial divisions and working-class labor movements of the early twentieth century. Despite these gains, women of color, especially Latinas, in sport remain vastly underrepresented in the historical record. This project turns to the overlooked history of women athletes of Mexican ancestry and explores the meaning of their athletic participation and the ways in which they offer new frameworks for understanding Mexican American history, borderlands, the North American West, and the very notion of citizenship itself.