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Researcher profile: John Carranza

March 5, 2012

Please tell us a little bit about yourself:
I was born and raised in San Antonio. I attended the University of the Incarnate Word as an undergraduate and majored in history with a minor in English. I am currently attending the University of Texas at San Antonio and pursuing a graduate degree in history. My research interests include the Texas-Mexico border and Barbados, with particular focus on nationalisms, gender and sexuality, and culture. I have spent the last nine years working with people with developmental disabilities, and I write poetry and short fiction in my spare time.

How did you find the Special Collections at UTSA?
I learned about the Special Collections at UTSA through my Historical Methods course. We were encouraged to use primary sources to become familiar with the process of writing history.

How did you learn to conduct primary source research?
I learned about primary sources in my undergraduate history program at the University of the Incarnate Word, but it wasn’t until graduate school that my understanding of primary source research really blossomed. Critiquing the ways other historians used their primary sources in my classes also helped with understanding how to conduct primary source research. Like any other learning experience, primary source research has been a lesson in trial and error since documents do not always tell you up front what you need to know.

Los Voladores de Papantla performing at HemisFair ’68, San Antonio Fair, Inc. Records (Box OM44)

Describe your research project and how the materials you’re studying at UTSA fit into it.
My research project is exploring the culture of consumption and the consumption of culture at HemisFair ’68, San Antonio’s world’s fair. I would like to examine how fairgoers experienced living exhibits such as PepsiCo/Frito-Lay’s “Los Voladores de Papantla” (the Flying Indians), how they decided what to eat and experienced food at the fair’s food plazas and restaurants, and how the elite culture of Ambassadors to several participating nations manifested itself in the Official Cookbook of HemisFair.

Tell us about one particularly interesting document you have come across in your research at UTSA.
Of course, all the documents have been pretty interesting so far because they offer insight into the intricacies of building a world’s fair from the ground up. One set of documents that I have found especially interesting have been the survey data that HemisFair ’68 organizers gathered about what was popular with fairgoers. The data show what was popular, what was not, and what remained constant.

Visitor Characteristic Surveys, San Antonio Fair, Inc. Records (Box 73:21)

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