Participant Info

First Name
Laura Isabel
Last Name
University of Southern California
Website URL
transnational, culture, cinema, U.S.-Mexico, race, ethnicity, silent film, gender, consumer culture
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

I am an historian with a passion for uncovering and recovering histories thought lost or unimportant.  In my first book, Making Cinelandia: American Films and Mexican Film Culture before the Golden Age (Duke University Press, 2014), I set out to answer a question provoked by a 1926 newspaper article. That article reported that Mexican women were leaving their homes en masse, destination Hollywood. I had heard about Midwestern girls heading out west to see if they would be discovered but as far as I knew, no one had told the story of these anonymous young Mexican women who were just a train ride away from the center of U.S. film production.  Answering this question allowed me to bring together the history of cinema as a cultural institution with the history of Mexican migration to the United States.

I am driven by trying to understand how everyday people in the past saw the world around them, what meanings they ascribed to cultural practices and politics. Recently, I’ve been exploring the mechanics of silent film distribution in Latin America as a way of gaining insight into how European immigrants made their way in new social contexts.  I have also been researching the production of sponsored films by government bodies, such as the EEOC, in the 1970s that dealt with issues of racial discrimination and the possible redress federal programs might provide.

Recent Publications

“Government Sponsored Film and latinidad: Voice of La Raza (1971),” in Race and Non-Theatrical Film, edited by Marsha Gordon and Allyson Nadia Field (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, forthcoming fall 2018)

“Latinos in Film” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History, March 2017. Available at

“Revista del Cinema: Silent Cinema in Yucatán,” Film History: An International Journal  29, no. 1 (spring 2017): 1-29.

Making Cinelandia: American Films and Mexican Film Culture before the Golden Age (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014)

Media Coverage
Country Focus
Expertise by Geography
Latin America, United States
Expertise by Chronology
20th century
Expertise by Topic
Gender, Race