Abisai Perez Zamarripa
Doctoral degree pursuing:
Ph.D. in History
The University of Texas at Austin
Dr. Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra and Alice Drysdale Sheffield
How did you first learn about the ConTex fellowship program?
When I was admitted at UT Austin, the Graduate Program Administrator in the Department of History told me about the ConTex program, so I immediately started to prepare the application.
Tell us about your research and what attracted you to this area of study
I am interested in studying the political culture of the Hispanic world between the years 1750-1850. In other words, I focus on the practices and political discourses that transformed societies once governed by the Spanish monarchy, which later became independent nation states.
I became attracted to this field because I belong to a generation disenchanted with traditional forms of politics. This made me want to understand how, throughout history, people have perceived and practiced ideas of democracy and citizenship.
What has been your most rewarding experience so far at UT Austin?
From the moment I set foot on the UT Austin campus, I began to learn about different cultures and to expand my vision of the world and the people who are part of it. The university offers a cosmopolitan environment where students and professors exchange valuable ideas and rewarding life experiences.
What has been a challenge or a surprise for you since you have been studying in Texas?
Initially, the language. It is difficult to perform in a competitive environment while speaking a second language, but eventually you get used to it.
Another challenging thing, at this moment, is reframing my research project with a global and comparative perspective. I never imagined how much social phenomena are interconnected around the entire world.
It is not going to be easy; a lot of work is needed!
How do you hope your research will impact the binational relationship between the U.S. and Mexico in the future?
During my stay in the United States as a graduate student, I have learned that both countries have faced similar challenges in their efforts to build a democratic society. I hope my work will help identify better ways to improve citizenship participation in Mexico by learning from the U.S. experiences.
At the same time, I am willing to share with my U.S. colleagues my own academic and life experiences to show that both societies have more in common than the political discourse or ideological misconceptions might project.