Position title: Co-Editor and Graduate Assistant
Phone: (608) 265-5596
My name is Dustin Cohan, and I am a Ph.D. Candidate in History. As an undergraduate I attended the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana where I earned a degree in Finance in 2009. After working for five years, I reentered academia at the University of Illinois at Chicago and completed a Bachelor of Arts in history. Two years later, I started the M.A./PhD program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and in 2018 I completed my master’s project titled, “Deconstructing Migration: Chicanx Advocacy, Racial Marking, and the Fight for Liberation in Wisconsin, 1971–1977.
My dissertation, “Remaking America’s Dairyland: Mexican Workers, American Farmers, and the Tenuous Alliance of Modern Dairy, 1976–2016,” examines the post-1986 surge in Mexican immigration and the subsequent employment and settlement of Mexican immigrants on Wisconsin dairy farms. Adopting a transnational framework, this study examines how the 1980s economic recession in Mexico along with transformations in the US dairy industry caused a pioneer group of indigenous Nahua people to seek work outside of Mexico and embark on the treacherous trek from the high mountains of Veracruz to the rural towns of Wisconsin. Drawing largely on oral histories with these and other Mexican laborers, my project centers their lived experiences and the ways they negotiated work and family life as undocumented immigrants in the US. Despite living over two thousand miles from their homeland in the rural isolation of the upper Midwest, immigrant workers established and maintained a transnational culture of work and family that remade Wisconsin dairy farms and transformed their villages in Mexico. Instead of belonging to one nation, undocumented Mexican and Nahua workers developed a cycle of migration that organized and sustained networks in both the US and Mexico.
My work has been featured on the UW-Madison Public History Blog, the West Texas Historical Review, and the Ask a Historian podcast.
Beyond research, I enjoy watching films and reading memoirs. For exercise, I am partial to hiking and playing basketball. When I am not engaged in work or physical activities, I also love to cook for my family and play with my two cats and dog.