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Urban Borderlands Records

Call Number: MS083

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of oral history tapes and transcripts, photographs, and supporting documentation for the Anthropology 183 seminar Urban Borderlands. Urban Borderlands was a joint effort between Tufts undergraduates and Latino high school students from Cambridge and documents the arrival and integration of the Latino community in contemporary US cities. Through interviews, recorded oral histories, and field research, students developed a history of the Latino community of Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts. Research topics were determined by the class and included subjects such as: the history and trajectory of the various Latino groups' arrival in Cambridge and Somerville, their settlement patterns and primary economic activities; the role of the church, sports, culture and the media; and the relationships and interactions of the various Latino groups with Cambridge and Somerville's existing ethnic communities. As a final project, students collectively prepared a booklet based on their research, which was published by the Gaston Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 2002 -- 2011
  • Creation: 1969 -- 2011


Language of Materials



This collection contains some restricted material. Restrictions related to specific material are listed in the detailed contents list. This collection may require review before it is available for use. Please contact DCA for further details.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Please see “Reproductions and Use” on the Digital Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permission to publish. No documentation is available regarding the intellectual property rights in this collection.

Biographical / Historical

Deborah Pacini-Hernandez is professor of Anthropology and American Studies at Tufts University. She was born in the US, her father from the US and her mother from Colombia. From the age of three to eleven she lived with her family in Columbia. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, she moved back to Colombia for five years. She received her masters and Ph.D. at Cornell University, and was a full professor at the University of Florida, Gainesville. She taught at Brown before arriving at Tufts.

Pacini-Hernandez's research interests include popular music studies, comparative Latino studies, and community studies with a regional focus on Spanish Caribbean Latinos in the US; Latin America and the Caribbean, specializing in the Dominican Republic, Colombia, and Cuba.

Awards Professor Pacini-Hernandez has received include a Rockefeller Foundation conference grant, an American Philosophical Society General Grant, and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for University Teachers. She has published extensively on Latino and Latin American as well as Caribbean popular music, on coca, resource development and indigenous people, and Latino communities in the US.

The Tufts anthropology course Urban Borderlands is based on a course Pacini-Hernandez taught previously at Brown University. That class was principally a reading course, but students also interviewed Dominicans and Colombians living in Providence, R.I. Once at Tufts, Pacini-Hernandez adapted the class because, at the time, there were no Latino communities close to the Tufts campus. Then "she learned about Concilio Hispano, the oldest multi-service agency in Cambridge and discovered that although there has been a Latino community in Cambridge since the 1950s, there were few, if any, written records about it." Out of her collaboration with Concilio Hispano developed Urban Borderlands -- as an example of "public anthropology"-- an approach to the discipline that encourages active citizenship and contributions to communities beyond the academic world.


7.45 Linear Feet

125 Digital Object(s)

1 Web sites


This collection is organized into series by semester.

Processing status

This collection is partially processed.

Repository Details

Part of the Tufts Archival Research Center Repository

35 Professors Row
Tisch Library Building
Tufts University
Medford Massachusetts 02155 United States