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Maria Cristina Garcia Garcia

Howard A. Newman Professor of American Studies

Office: 432 McGraw Hall
Phone: (607) 255-6598
Fax: (607) 255-0469
Twitter: @ithacamcg

Office Hours: By appointment

Research and Teaching Interests

I study refugees, immigrants, exiles, and transnationals in the Americas.  My first book, Havana USA, examined the migration of Cubans to the United States after Fidel Castro took power in 1959.   The book examines how these Cold war migrants--the beneficiaries of one of the most generous immigration policies and assistance programs in US immigration history--became a powerful economic and political presence in the United States, influencing foreign policy and electoral outcomes, reshaping the cultural landscape of the South, and ultimately reinterpreting what it means to assimilate in U.S. society.

My second book, Seeking Refuge,  is a study of the individuals, groups, and organizations that responded to the Central American refugee crisis of the 1980s and 1990s, and helped shape refugee policies throughout North America.  Collectively these domestic and transnational advocacy networks collected testimonies, documented the abuses of states, re-framed national debates about immigration, pressured for changes in policy, and ultimately provided a voice for the displaced and the excluded.  

I am currently completing a new book project, a study of refugee and asylum policy in the United States since the end of the Cold War.  

Many of my undergraduate courses reflect these research interests (see my list of course offerings below) and are cross-listed with American Studies, Latino Studies, and occasionally, Latin American Studies.  While I consider myself primarily a historian of 20th century U.S. history, my interest in mobile populations has increasingly blurred the geographic borders of my work.


For more information and links to current courses, go to: History's Courses Page

Courses Taught at Cornell

The US-Mexico Border: History, Culture, and Representation
Immigration in U.S. History
Latinos in U.S. History
Reading in 20th century U.S. History
US-Cuba Relations


Ph.D University of Texas, Austin, 1990
M.A. University of Texas, Austin, 1984
B.A. Georgetown University, 1982

Recent Publications

Book Manuscripts

Refuge in Post-Cold War America (in progress)

Origin Stories: Myth and History in the American Immigration Experience (in progress)

Seeking Refuge: Central American Immigration to Mexico, the United States, and Canada (University of California Press, 2006)

Havana USA: Cuban Exiles and Cuban Americans in South Florida, 1959-1994 (University of California Press, 1996)

Recent Select Articles and Book Chapters

"What's new about the new refugee policy?" in Marilyn Halter, Marilynn S. Johnson, Katheryn P. Viens, and Conrad E. Wright, eds., What's New About the New Immigration: Traditions and Transformations since 1965. (Palgrave Macmillan Press, forthcoming, 2015).

"Foreword," in Mark Overmyer-Velázquez and Enrique Sepúlveda, eds., Global Latinos: Latin American Diasporas and Regional Migrations (Oxford University Press, forthcoming, 2015).

"Americana," in Ethnic Historians and the Mainstream: Shaping America's Immigration Story. David Gerber and Alan Kraut, eds.. Rutgers University Press, forthcoming 2014.

"Latino immigration," in "Oxford Handbook on American Immigration and Ethnicity". Ronald Bayor, ed. Oxford University Press, Forthcoming 2014.

"Refugees in Post Cold War America," Immigration and Ethnic History Society Newsletter, November 2012.

"Central American migration and the shaping of refugee policy" in Migrants and Migration in Modern North America: Cross-Border Lives, Labor Markets, and Politics in Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico, and the United States. Dirk Hoerder and Nora Faires, eds., Duke University Press, 2012.

"Latino Interchange," Journal of American History (September 2010), Vol. 97, no. 2. pp. 424-464.

Recent Awards and Fellowships

Fellow, Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, 2013-2014

Stephen and Margery Russell Distinguished Teaching Award, College of Arts and Sciences, 2011.

Radcliffe Institute, 2005-2006 (declined)


Joint appointments: 
Latino Studies Program
President, Immigration and Ethnic History Society

Teaching affiliations with: 
American Studies Program
Latin American Studies Program
Immigration: Settlement, Integration and Membership Project
The Latino Americans (PBS series)