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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Watsonville is in the Heart: Documenting Histories of Transpacific Filipino Migration in the Pajaro Valley


Watsonville is in the Heart (WIITH) is a community-driven, public history initiative to preserve and uplift stories of Filipino transpacific migration and labor in the greater Pajaro Valley—an agricultural region located on central California’s coast. The WIITH team is creating a novel archive documenting the resilience of Filipinos who navigated the intersections of colonialism, migrant labor, and racism during the early twentieth century. The archive includes Filipino experiences documented through oral histories, photographs, personal records, and material culture objects. Significantly, WIITH’s archive reveals transpacific connections between the Philippines, Hawai‘i, and the Pajaro Valley that have yet to be examined by scholars. The initiative’s value sits at the intersections of art, oral histories, and histories of Filipino migration. It will culminate in an exhibition at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, Watsonville is in the Heart: Philippine Migrant Labor in the Pajaro Valley, that will bring the WIITH archive and the Bay Area artist community together. This essay provides an overview of WIITH’s archival development, methodology, and historiographical intervention thus far.

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