Alejandro Montoya, Professor, History and Anthropology, Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí

Alejandro Montoya, Professor, History and Anthropology, Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí

BY: Catherine Nygren

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Alejandro’s research focused on the demographic and social evolution of a mining town in northern New Spain, covering the colonial period of 1592 to 1810. As a student from Mexico, he took advantage of funding from the Mexican government to study at the Université de Montréal, with the expectation that he would return after his doctorate to teach at a Mexican university.

Because of this funding, he was able to study without worrying about financial instability or having to teach, as well as support his wife and two small children, who moved north with him. Although he wasn’t very connected to his department’s community, he felt part of the Latino community of Montreal, and the wonderful experience that his family had meant that he could focus on his work without any worries. Additionally, living near to three other universities and their different resources—in both French and English—was a significant advantage.

He finished his degree in about five years, including some trips to Spain for archival research. His dissertation was published as a book, San Luis del Potosí Novohispano, in 2009. That study still influences his current approach to social and demographic history, and the research and skills that he honed during his doctorate have been directly relevant for his current position: Alejandro is a professor of anthropology and history at the Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí. Although he didn’t have any teaching experience from his PhD, he quickly learned to teach on his own, and now, in addition to teaching, supervises his own students. Research and publication take up the rest of his time—the same mantra of “publish or perish” applies.

Alejandro stresses that his time in Montreal was one of the most important experiences of both his life and the lives of his family. Although he has always been passionate about and focused on his work, he is thankful that he could not only support his family, but also give his children a formative experience—maybe they will return to Montreal someday, for their own careers and adventures.

 

Alejandro’s research focused on the demographic and social evolution of a mining town in northern New Spain, covering the colonial period of 1592 to 1810. As a student from Mexico, he took advantage of funding from the Mexican government to study at the Université de Montréal, with the expectation that he would return after his doctorate to teach at a Mexican university.

Because of this funding, he was able to study without worrying about financial instability or having to teach, as well as support his wife and two small children, who moved north with him. Although he wasn’t very connected to his department’s community, he felt part of the Latino community of Montreal, and the wonderful experience that his family had meant that he could focus on his work without any worries. Additionally, living near to three other universities and their different resources—in both French and English—was a significant advantage.

He finished his degree in about five years, including some trips to Spain for archival research. His dissertation was published as a book, San Luis del Potosí Novohispano, in 2009. That study still influences his current approach to social and demographic history, and the research and skills that he honed during his doctorate have been directly relevant for his current position: Alejandro is a professor of anthropology and history at the Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí. Although he didn’t have any teaching experience from his PhD, he quickly learned to teach on his own, and now, in addition to teaching, supervises his own students. Research and publication take up the rest of his time—the same mantra of “publish or perish” applies.

Alejandro stresses that his time in Montreal was one of the most important experiences of both his life and the lives of his family. Although he has always been passionate about and focused on his work, he is thankful that he could not only support his family, but also give his children a formative experience—maybe they will return to Montreal someday, for their own careers and adventures.

 

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