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In this short 15 minute video, Dr. Romeo Guzmán describes the origins and development of the public history and digital humanities project "East of East: Mapping Community Narratives in El Monte and South El Monte."
Dr. Romeo Guzmán is an assistant professor of history at Claremont Graduate University and co-founder of the South El Monte Arts Posse (SEMAP). His research interests include citizenship, migration, sport, public history, and digital humanities.
East of East: Mapping Community Narratives public history project
Founded in 2011 by Carribean Fragoza and Romeo Guzmán, the South El Monte Arts Posse (SEMAP) is an arts collective dedicated to engaging with the South El Monte and El Monte community through the arts by rethinking our use of space and transforming how we inhabit it. El Monte’s encroaching centennial in 2012 encouraged new ways of thinking about its history and new methods of conveying El Monte’s present and past to its residents and the broader public.
The South El Monte Arts Posse, in collaboration with La Casa de El Hijo del Ahuizote, used this historical date as an opportunity to launch the community public history and place-making project, “East of East: Mapping Community Narratives in South El Monte and El Monte,” which was funded by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. This initial grant and communal labor helped launch what would become a multi-year and award-winning project to excavate, organize, and publicize this history. The project has resulted in two major outcomes: the edited book East of East: The Making of Greater El Monte (Rutgers, 2020) and a digital archive, which will be available in the Claremont Colleges Digital Library (CCDL) this summer. Both push against El Monte’s outdated and exclusionary “pioneer narrative.” The CCDL collection will feature photographs, newspaper clippings, city documents, zines, oral history interviews, and other materials that document daily life in El Monte and South El Monte, California, from the 1910s to 2020s.
East of East: The Making of Greater El Monte, is an edited collection of thirty-one essays that trace the experience of a California community over three centuries, from eighteenth-century Spanish colonization to twenty-first century globalization. Employing traditional historical scholarship, oral history, creative nonfiction and original art, the book provides a radical new history of El Monte and South El Monte, showing how interdisciplinary and community-engaged scholarship can break new ground in public history. East of East tells stories that have been excluded from dominant historical narratives--stories that long survived only in the popular memory of residents, as well as narratives that have been almost completely buried and all but forgotten. Its cast of characters includes white vigilantes, Mexican anarchists, Japanese farmers, labor organizers, civil rights pioneers, and punk rockers, as well as the ordinary and unnamed youth who generated a vibrant local culture at dances and dive bars.
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"ay corazon" an installation by Carribean Fragoza contributed as part of South El Monte Arts Posse project, Activate Vacant.