Jeffrey Bortz

                As an undergraduate, Jeffrey Bortz worked his way through UCLA as a parking attendant, fully enjoying what the 1960s offered to college students little interested in college. Through sheer luck and the intervention of James Lockhart, he entered graduate school at UCLA in Latin American history to study with Lockhart, Bob Burr and Brad Burns (and during a summer at the University of Chicago, with John Coatsworth). After passing his exams in May 1973, he set off for Chile armed with a Doherty Fellowship and a lot less knowledge than he thought. He was in Santiago less than a month when the Pinochet coup led to a beating at the hands of the Chilean Army and then a shaky escape to Buenos Aires on an old DC 4.
                After recovering his health in Los Angeles, he departed for Mexico at the end of 1973 to invent a dissertation on a country he had never studied. Don Juan underlined the importance of finding your spot, and in Mexico he found his, living there for eleven years and publishing three books on wages. His 2006 article with Marcos Aguila in the Latin American Research Review, “Earning a Living: A History of Real Wage Studies in 20th Century Mexico,” more or less sums up that period of scholarship on Mexican wage issues. During those years, he worked as a researcher at the Instituto Nacional de Estudios del Trabajo, and as a professor at the Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (Acatlan), and the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (Azcapotzalco), where he was tenured in the Economics Department. 
                After enjoying a fellowship at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at UCSD in 1984-85, he returned to UCLA to coordinate the Program on Mexico from 1985 to 1989. Since 1989, he has taught history at Appalachian State University, where he has received teaching awards from the College of Arts and Sciences and from the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina. He also took advantage of travel opportunities to serve as visiting professor at the Universidad de las Americas, the Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, and the UAM-Xochimilco. He doesn’t have a philosophy of teaching but is guided by the idea that both the classroom (teaching) and publishing (research) are a search for the truth and are best approached in that light. Some of his best students have gone on to successful graduate work at Oxford, Yale, Chicago, Illinois, Rutgers, New Mexico and Texas. Others went on to successful careers outside the academe. He is proud of all of them.
                Fellowships from the NEH, the ACLS, and a research Fulbright allowed him to continue his work in the archives, from which he published a number of articles on Mexican textile workers. He also managed to publish a book with Fidel Castro and Ernest Mandel, an edited volume with Stephen Haber, a chapter with the International Institute for Social History in Amsterdam, and other studies of labor market and union issues in both important and obscure journals and books. This work culminated with his most recent book, Revolution within the Revolution: Cotton Textile Workers and the Mexican Labor Regime, 1910-1923 (Stanford, 2008).
                Awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2009, he is now working on a book on the Mexican labor regime after the revolution.
               


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