Verenize Arceo


Advisor: Paige Glotzer
Mailbox: 5079 Mosse Humanities Building

Verenize Arceo headshot


My dissertation centers the everyday socio-cultural life and leisure experiences of ethnic Mexican women as critical place-making endeavors in my home community of California’s San Joaquin Valley from 1965-1995. Located in the heart of Central California, the San Joaquin Valley is either understood as one of the nation’s agricultural heavyweights or as a “blink and you miss it” bypass along Highway 99. Whereas scholars have centered Los Angeles as the core of ethnic Mexican life in California, following the termination of the Bracero Program in 1964, I argue that it is in the San Joaquin Valley where we see an increasing number of ethnic Mexicans detouring off the 99 in search of opportunities. But my dissertation shows that this history takes us beyond solely agriculture. In centering the oral history accounts of ethnic Mexican women, I explore the quotidian spaces of leisure—English as a Second Language classrooms, WIC offices, and the Merced Fairgrounds—to understand how, according to my interviewees, “this place made me.” In addition to oral interviews, I explore governmental correspondences, irrigation district files, and records from the University of California system to understand how policies and design ultimately designated the San Joaquin Valley as a site for profit not permanence. These contested productions of place not only emphasize how this place made me from multiple vantage points, but also demonstrate how place-making pulled the San Joaquin Valley away from this bypass-status and situated it at the center of social, political, and historical debates throughout the twentieth century.


M.A., History, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2021
B.A., History, University of California, Merced, 2018


  • U.S./North American History

MA Title

  • “What Are We Doing Here?: The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Chicano Studies Program and the Landscape of (un)Belonging, 1974-76”

Working Dissertation Title

  • “Gateway to Community: Ethnic Mexican Place-Making in California’s San Joaquin Valley, 1965-1995”

Selected Publications

  • David Rouff and Verenize Arceo, “Communal Gardens, Defensive Design, and Urban Apartheid in Chinatown: Merced, CA, 1870-1910” in Segregation and Resistance of the Americas, eds. Eric Avila and Thaïsa Way (Dumbarton Oaks: Harvard University Press, 2023), 235-261.
  • Review of Border Women and the Community of Maclovio Rojas: Autonomy in the Spaces of Neoliberal Neglect, by Michelle Téllez, Western Historical Quarterly, Volume 53, Issue 3, Autumn 2022, 316.

Selected Awards

  • George E. Pozzetta Dissertation Award; Immigration and Ethnic History Society (2024)
  • 2023-2024 Campus-Wide Advanced Achievement in Teaching Award; University of Wisconsin-Madison, Graduate School (2024)
  • Trennert-Iverson Conference Scholarship; Western History Association (2023)
  • WHA Graduate Student Prize; Western History Association (2023)
  • Jeanne Boydston Conference Travel Grant; Department of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison (2022)
  • Early Excellence in Teaching Award; Department of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison (2021)

Professional Affiliations

  • Latinx Studies Association
  • Western History Association

Courses Taught as TA

  •  History 136: Sports, Recreation, and Society in the United States; Professor Alex Mountain
  • History/ Chican@ & Latin@ Studies 151: The North American West to 1850; Professor Allison Powers
  • History/ Chican@ & Latin@ Studies 152: The US West to 1850; Professor Allison Powers
  • History/Asian American Studies 160: Process of Movement and Dislocation; Professor Cindy I-Fen Cheng