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Faculty Detail

Gigi Peterson

Gigi Peterson

Research interests

My research and teaching interests include:  labor, human and civil rights activism and transnational organizing; comparative migration studies; US relations with Latin America at both the official and extra-official levels; left-wing political culture in the Americas.  My current research projects center on grassroots activism—including its cross-ethnic and transnational dimensions—in Seattle, an important U.S. West Coast city profoundly influenced by its Pacific Rim ties.  Beginning in 2016, I initiated and now collaborate in the Chilean Refugees in Seattle (CRIS) History Project, devoted to archiving CRIS documents, artifacts, and oral histories at the Labor Archive of Washington, University of Washington-Seattle Special Collections.  I am currently working on a book manuscript exploring “Chapters in a Career” of the late John Caughlan, a Seattle labor and civil rights attorney.  His defense of immigrants and activists from the 1930s to the 1990s had local, national, and international impacts and engaged networks at all of these levels.


Ph.D. Department of History, University of Washington. 1998.

Fields of specialization: Modern Latin America, Latinos in the United States, U.S. Foreign Policy, Modern Southeast Asia

Dissertation: “Grassroots Good Neighbors: Cross Border Connections between Mexican and U.S. Labor and Civil Rights Activists, 1936-45.”

M.A. Department of History. University of Washington. 1992.
Washington State Teaching Certificate. Secondary Level Social Studies. University of Washington. 1986.

B.A. Multifield Major in the Humanities. St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY. 1982.


At SUNY Cortland:

  • HIS 201: US History Since 1877
  • HIS 290: Historical Methods
  • HIS 490: Senior Research Seminar
  • HIS 402: History of Latin American-US Relations
  • HIS 422: History of US Latinos
  • HIS 327: Latin American Revolutions in the 20th century
  • HIS 329 and 429 (Special Topics): US Imperialism in Global Context; Transnational Civil Rights Struggles in the US; Migration’s Impacts on Cortland; US-Mexican Relations
  • HIS 529 (Special Topics, graduate level): US Imperialism in Global Context; US-Mexican Relations
  • HIS 560: Teaching US History
  • AED 391: Introduction to Adolescence Education – Social Studies
  • AED 301: Pre-Student Teaching Seminar
  • AED 400/401: Student teaching (supervision in secondary social studies)

At Fulda University, Fulda, Germany: 

“Migration Studies: Comparative Perspectives,” for the International Summer University, Summer 2014-2016;  “The Multicultural United States,” and “U.S. Imperialism in Comparative Perspective,” for the School of Social and Cultural Studies, Summer 2014. 

At the University of Washington-Seattle: 
“Survey of Latin American History”; “Modern Latin America”; “History of Central America”; “Grassroots Good Neighbors: Mexican-US Relations in the 1930s and 1940”; “Human Rights in Latin America”; “Cultures of Solidarity in US-Latin American Relations”; “Latin American-US Relations in History and Fiction”


“We Do the Work” radio interview on Seattle Ship Scalers Union and mural history, with Mike Dumovich, KSVR, and Conor Casey, Labor Archive of Washington.  Aired on KSVR {Skagit Valley, Washington] and affiliates, July 2017.  Archived at

Recobrando/Recovering ‘The Struggle Against Racial Discrimination’: The Journey of Pablo O’Higgins’s Mural for the Ship Scalers Union of Seattle. Labor: Studies in Working Class History of the Americas, Winter 2012.

Review of James Green, We Cannot Remain Silent:  Opposition to the Brazilian Military Dictatorship in the United States (Duke Univ. Press, 2010), History: Reviews of New Books 39:4 (September 2011) 128-129.

Review of Catherine S. Ramírez, The Woman in the Zoot Suit:  Gender, Nationalism, and the Cultural Politics of Memory (Duke University Press, 2009), Pacific Historical Review (August 2011) 489-491.

Review of Luis Alvarez, The Power of the Zoot:  Youth Culture and Resistance During World War II, (University of California Press, 2008).  Journal of World History, (September 2010) 551-554.

“Do the Write Thing:  Reflections on Academic Integrity.”  Perspectives on History (December 2008).

Review of Eduardo Obregón Pagán, Murder at the Sleepy Lagoon:  Zoot Suits, Race, and Riots in Wartime L.A. (University of North Carolina Press, 2003).  In Peace and Change:  A Journal of Peace Research.  30:4 (October 2005)  570-76. 

“‘A Dangerous Demagogue’:  Containing the Influence of the Mexican Labor-Left and its U.S. Allies.”  In William Issel, Robert Cherny, and Kiernan Taylor, eds.  American Labor and the Cold War:  Grassroots Politics and Postwar Political Culture.  Rutgers University Press, 2004.

Scholarly Presentations (selected)

“Chilean Exile Activists in Seattle: Solidarity Across Borders,” and “Bridging Mexico and Seattle: A History of Seattle's Ship Scalers Union Mural,” Labor and Working Class History Association Annual Conference, Seattle, WA. June 2017.

“Labor History in Secondary Social Studies: Pushing Back the Corporatized Curriculum: A Workshop and Panel Discussion.”  Session organizer, discussion facilitator, and co-presenter.  Labor and Working Class History Association Annual Conference, New York, NY.  June 2013.

“Cousins in Anti-Imperialism:  Filipino and Latin American Resistance to US Policy.”  Presented at “New Perspectives on Transpacific Connections: The Americas and the South Pacific" Conference at Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich, Germany.  April 2013.

“Many Struggle, Many Movements:  Civil Rights Activism in the 1960s and 1970s,” Professional development workshop for secondary social studies teachers.  Part of “The Long and Wide Civil Rights Movement,” a Rochester City School District “Teaching as Historians Program,” funded by the Teaching American History Program.  Rochester, NY.  March 2013.

“A Class Apart"? Latinos in the Secondary Social Studies Curriculum.”  Poster presentation at American Historical Association Annual Conference, New Orleans. LA.  January 2013.

Bridging Seattle and Mexico: The Journey of the Pablo O'Higgins Mural for the Seattle Ship Scalers Union,” Public lecture for Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies, University of Washington – Seattle, March 2012.

“Avoiding Assumptions and Helping Students ‘Do the Right/Write Thing,’” paper and roundtable participant and commentator, “No Work is an Island”:  Academic Integrity in the Historical Profession.”  Annual conference of The Historical Society, Washington, D.C. June 2010.

“U.S. Blacks and the Spanish-American-Cuban-Filipino War,” presentation for panel on "Hidden Histories of Black Americans in the Military: Chapters in the Struggle for Rights," Fifth Annual Conference of the Association for African American Historical Research and Preservation.  Seattle, WA. Mar. 2009

“Empire, Nation, and Rights:  Approaches for Teaching on the Spanish-American-Cuban-Filipino War.”  Sole presenter/facilitator for daylong professional development workshop for secondary social studies teachers.  Denton Independent School District Professional Development Day.  Denton, TX.  Feb. 2008.


Latino-Latin American Studies Program Coordinator, SUNY Cortland. April 2011-August 2013.

Clark Center for International Education (CCIE), Interim Director, SUNY Cortland. January 2013-August 2013. Member, CCIE, August 2003-present.

Adolescence Education Social Studies Program Coordinator, SUNY Cortland.  August 2004-August 2009 and Interim Coordinator January-May 2016.

Teacher Education Council, SUNY Cortland.  Adolescence Education Social Studies Program Representative and special committee work on student teacher evaluations, technology, by-laws, teaching dispositions, course syllabi policy.  August 2002-present.

COR 101 Speakers Bureau member. Class presentations on academic integrity for freshman “Introduction to Cortland” course sections.  September 2004-present.

Academic Grievance Tribunal member.  September 2006-May 2013.

College Writing Committee member, SUNY Cortland.  September 2007-May 2013.

Scholars Day [now Transformations] Program Committee for annual conference of student research. SUNY Cortland.  January 2003-May 2012.

Consultant, Global Workforce Project, a SUNY Cortland/SUNY Levin Institute partnership.  Revision of online curricular modules on international topics and development of guidelines and strategies for engaging students.  Summer 2012.

Outside reviewer for Tompkins-Cortland Community College Adolescence Education Programs.  Fall 2009.