Garcia, Alberto

Assistant Professor, Department of History


Ph.D., History, University of California, Berkeley

M.A., History, University of California, Berkeley

M.A., Latin American Studies, Stanford University

A.B., History, University of California, Davis


I'm a historian of modern Latin America whose research specializes in twentieth-century Mexico, specifically migration to the United States, rural politics, and state development. I teach courses on Mexican and comparative Latin American history, as well as courses on US topics such as immigration and foreign relations.

My interest in history began when I was a child. I grew up in the Sacramento Valley, but I regularly visited family in the Mexican state of Michoacán, which is where my parents emigrated to the US from. During these visits, I met older relatives who had actively participated in the revolutionary conflicts of the 1910s and 1920s, as well as others who had worked in California during the years of the Bracero Program, a bilateral initiative that allowed Mexican men to work in the US as seasonal contract farm laborers from 1942 through 1964. These childhood visits also coincided with Mexico's transition to a more competitive electoral democracy, as opposition parties steadily gained ground during the 1980s and 1990s and then won the 2000 presidential election, their first such victory in 71 years.

Hearing my relatives' recollections and witnessing a political party lose its decades-long grip on power sparked my curiosity about how past events shaped the present. The outstanding history faculty at the University of California, Davis and the University of California, Berkeley -- where I did my undergraduate and graduate work, respectively -- nurtured that curiosity and taught me that the keys to effectively understanding the past are thoughtful arguments supported by critical evaluations of written sources, careful examinations of interconnected political, social, economic, and cultural contexts, and robust comparative analyses.

The critical thinking and argumentative skills that I learned at Davis and Berkeley are the same ones I help my own students practice and refine. Developing these skills allows students to excel in the classroom, and it also prepares them to succeed in a wide array of possible post-graduation careers, such as teaching, government service, practicing law, journalism, librarian work, museum curating, and working for non-governmental organizations.