History Department

History MA Student Juan Vega Ramírez Wins Chico State’s Outstanding Thesis Award (2021/2022)

Juan Vega Ramírez, who completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Chico State, won this competitive, university-wide distinction for his thesis titled “Proselytizing Modernity: Reexamining the Summer Institute of Linguistics’ Tenure in Mexico, 1934-1979.” His thesis committee included Dr. Steve Lewis (chair), Dr. Jeff Livingston, and Dr. Hannah Burdette.

Juan’s thesis analyzes the controversial track record of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) in Mexico. The US-based SIL sent missionary linguists to Indigenous communities in Mexico starting in the 1930s. Initially, the Mexican government welcomed the SIL’s presence, believing that the missionary linguists could teach the Indigenous to read and could introduce modern lifestyles. By the late 1970s, however, Mexican social scientists and politicians bitterly denounced the SIL as an agent of Yankee imperialism. In 1979, the Mexican government was forced to publicly sever ties with its longtime ally in the Indigenous countryside. Juan did exhaustive research of the available primary and secondary sources to make this original contribution to the historiography.

Juan presented his preliminary research at the Northern California Regional Conference of Phi Alpha Theta in March 2000 and took first place in the graduate category. One year later, he presented his work at the annual meeting of Rocky Mountain Council on Latin American Studies and was invited to submit a chapter for a forthcoming edited volume on transnationalism in Latin America.

Congratulations, Juan!