PhD Students

Photo of Carla Mendiola


Carla L. Mendiola

PhD Program

Educational Background

Ph.D. candidate, Southern Methodist University
Fulbright Canada Award research, Université Laval, Québec, Canada
Radio-TV-Film studies, San Antonio College
M.A., U.S. History, University of Texas at Austin
B.A., History, Rice University
Study abroad, Catholic University of Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, Chile

Dissertation Title

“Mestizaje Matters: How Mestizaje/Métissage/Intermixture Along the Texas-Mexico and Maine-Canada Borders Shaped Families, Communities, and Identities, 1880-1930”

I am researching the relationship between local and national identities and borders by comparing mestizaje among Mexican American families along the South Texas-Mexico border in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and métissage among Franco American families along the northern Maine-Canada border in the St. John River Valley. Mestizaje/Métissage are the Spanish and French terms, respectively, for biological and cultural mixing. I am exploring family, culture, and identity formation by examining intermarriage and language practices in the border cities of Madawaska, Maine, and Hidalgo, Texas, from 1880 to 1930. I am intrigued by how the personal, local lives of borderlanders are interrelated with national and international events, and how local practices occasionally subverted and influenced broader policies and identity issues.

My research is also a personal journey because Sandy Leveck, my French-Canadian descent grandfather from northern Maine, traveled with the 1919 U.S. Cavalry to the South Texas border where he met and married Elodia McDonald, my Mexican American grandmother. I plan on including vignettes of individual family stories to bring the broader history to life. I am intrigued by how the personal, local lives of borderlanders are interrelated with national and international events.

Before attending SMU, my M.A. research focused on the legal history of unequal education of Mexican Americans in Texas. I subsequently worked in radio-TV-film productions of Hispanic advertising, films, documentaries, and multimedia museum and mural exhibits. I also presented at multiple conferences and taught college-level history classes, where I subjected my unsuspecting students to a variety of pedagogical techniques including online GIS map exercises, service-learning at local historic sites, and problem-based learning.

For fun, I enjoy cheering on the San Antonio Spurs and looking for the best chocolate dessert in the world.

Publications and Thesis

  • “Mestizaje on the Texas Frontier during the 18th Century,” in Porfirio Sanz Camañes and David Rex Galindo, eds, La frontera en el mundo hispánico: Tierras de convivencia y espacios de confrontación (siglos XV-XVIII) (Quito: Abya-Yala Press, 2014).
  • "The Meeting of Two Border Worlds: How the Maine-Canada and Texas-Mexico Borders Met in 1920," In “The Maine Borderlands,” Special issue, Maine History 47, no. 1 (Jan. 2013): 111-142.
  • “A Legal History of the Unequal Education of Mexican Americans in Texas, 1928-1993.” Master’s thesis, University of Texas at Austin, 1993.

Digital and Public History Projects

  • SMU DeGolyer Library: University Archives Dallas, TX, Archival assistant & Desk Assistant; Produced description and scans for “Campus Memories” Digital Collections webpage,, Organized archival material, Wrote collection guide, and Assisted Researchers. (Sum 2009, 2010, Fall 2013- Sum 2014)
  • SAC Hispanic Heritage Multimedia Mural Exhibit: Coordinated 14 panel, multi-media, permanent exhibit, including paint, glass mosaic, audio narrative, and handout (Fall 2003 to Fall 2005)
  • U.S. Southwest web-based interactive curriculum materials, part of a pioneering NEH grant-funded project with a team of professors producing individual maps - GIS Mapping for the Humanities, (Fall 2003-Fall 2004)

Last updated 08/15