Erin Murrah-Mandril earned her PhD from the UNM English Department in 2014 and is currently an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Arlington where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses for the English department and the Center for Mexican American Studies. Dr. Murrah-Mandril’s book, In the Mean Time: Temporal Colonization and the Mexican American Literary Tradition, came out in April 2020 from the University of Nebraska Press. The book builds upon her dissertation, which was completed at UNM under the guidance of Dr. Jesse Alemán. In the Mean Time argues that time, like space, is an important medium of colonization and it details the processes through which U.S. political and economic forces transformed time in the Southwest after the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The treaty delaed and denied Mexican American citizens’ full rights yet promised “in the mean time” to protect their property and liberty. Murrah-Mandril examines the “mean time” as a temporal sleight of hand through which U.S. institutions installed the economic and political “underdevelopment” they would later use to justify Mexican American disenfranchisement. She contends that, in response, Mexican American authors exploited the period's shifting forms of time to challenge U.S. modernity and its empty, homogenous, linear, and progressive temporality in order to contest and survive U.S. domination and that temporal play is a constitutive feature of Mexican American literature. She recently discussed the book in an interview with Fronteras.
While in the UNM English graduate program, Murrah-Mandril was able to publish three peer-reviewed articles, and begin work on a fourth, which she later revised and published in Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies. Jesse Alemán and many UNM English department faculty, including Dr. Hector Torres, Dr. Garry Harrison, Dr. Melina Vizcíano-Alemán, Dr. Anita Obermeier, Dr. Gail Houston, and many others have been her cherished mentors, not to mention the department’s graduate student cohort of the 2010’s, with whom she continues to collaborate. She is also indebted to financial support from the UNM Center for Regional Studies Hector Torres Fellowship and the UNM Feminist Research Institute during her time as a graduate student.
Dr. Murrah-Mandril also has a chapter forthcoming in the collection, Teaching Race in Perilous Times (expected from SUNY Press in March 2021), about the complexities of designing and teaching an online Intro. to Mexican American Studies course. Murrah-Mandril began experimenting with online teaching as a graduate teaching assistant at UNM. The UT Arlington online course that she designed and that she analyzes in the forthcoming chapter was awarded Quality Matters certification through an international peer-review process for online courses. Her current project engages with Chicana feminism and early Mexican American women’s writing to recover birth culture among women of color in the early 20th century. She has become increasingly interested in decolonial methodologies aimed at recuperating women of color’s knowledge and experiences, which often lie in the interstices of archival records. Mexican American parteras, or midwives, were integral to the cohesion of border communities through the early 20th century and provide a legacy upon which Chicana feminists would later draw. This project is a labor of love (pun intended). It draws inspiration not only from Murrah-Mandril’s strong intellectual foundation at UNM, but also from her own experience birthing two children in New Mexico (bookending her dissertation in 2011 and 2014). The unique, wholistic birth culture of New Mexico led her to consider the long history of mujeres danodoa luz in the borderlands. You can read more about Dr. Murrah-Mandril’s research and teaching on her website.