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This profile was last updated on 5/30/13  and contains information from public web pages.

Dr. Erasmo Gamboa

Wrong Dr. Erasmo Gamboa?


Local Address: Seattle, Washington, United States
University of Washington, Program on the Environment

Employment History

  • Associate Professor of History
    University of Washington
  • Leading Student Activist
    University of Washington
  • Associate Professor of Chicano Studies and Adjunct Associate Professor of History and Latin American Studies
    UW Chapter of MEChA
  • Associate Professor of American Ethic Studies
    UW Chapter of MEChA

Board Memberships and Affiliations

  • Cultural Historian
    University of Washington
  • Founder
    United Mexican American Student organization
  • Chairman of the University Boycott Committee
    UW Chapter of MEChA


  • Yakima Valley Community College
  • University of Washington
  • PhD
  • MA , History
31 Total References
Web References
First Thursday Guest Speaker Biographies | The Clark County Historical Museum, 1 Feb 2014 [cached]
February 2014 - Panel Discussion with Dr. Laurier Mercier, Dr. Erasmo Gamboa, and Sandy Polishuk
A child of Mexican immigrant parents, Erasmo Gamboa was born in Texas and spent his youth in the Yakima Valley of Eastern Washington. After attending Yakima Valley Community College, he enrolled at the University of Washington in 1968 where he quickly became a leading student activist. Gamboa helped found the UW Chapter of MEChA and was chairman of the University boycott committee supporting the United Farm Workers' boycott of non-union grapes. Gamboa was also instrumental in the establishment of the UW's Chicano Studies program. He earned an MA in History from the UW in 1973, and his PhD in 1984. He is currently Associate Professor of Chicano Studies and Adjunct Associate Professor of History and Latin American Studies at the UW. Professor Gamboa is the author of numerous articles and books on the history of Latinos in the Pacific Northwest, including Mexican Labor and World War II: Braceros in the Pacific Northwest, 1942-1947; and Nosotros, the Hispanic People of Oregon: Essays and Reflections, which won the Helen and Martin Schwarz Prize from the National Federation of State Humanities Councils.
AAUW Newsletter - October, 2001, 1 Mar 2002 [cached]
Stories, Tales, and Images of Chicanos in the Pacific Northwest by Erasmo Gamboa, Cultural Historian and Associate Professor of History, University of Washington
4:00 PM Panel Discussion lead by Erasmo Gamboa
Migrant Ed News, 21 Jan 2004 [cached]
U.S. immigration policy has backfired, says Dr. Erasmo Gamboa, associate professor of history at the University of Washington, causing more migrant workers to stay in the U.S. than under the prior Bracero program.
When greater restrictions were applied in 1986 against migration, he says, the impact was to discourage but not stop undocumented workers from crossing the U.S. border.
Under the Bracero program the workers - documented or not - tended to come to the U.S. to work the fields, then return to Mexico or other Latin American countries during the winter.
"People are no longer going back," he says, "since it is no longer taken for granted that they can return."
Dr. Gamboa says this has increased the number of families staying and raising their families in the U.S. - and putting increased demand on educational and social services.
The nature of migration has also increased demands on services, he says.Previously, families tended to migrate first to the border towns in Texas, become accustomed to U.S. life, learn some English, then migrate northward.
Now migrants move immediately to the northern states without any adjustment period.
"In a matter of days, they move to a very different world," Dr. Gamboa says.
At the same time, fewer Mexican migrant families returning to their homeland has been one reason why the Mexican economy has been falling since the early 1980s.
Consequently, "the Mexican economy is now expelling workers," Dr. Gamboa says.
He says there are three key factors for the massive influx of immigrants into the United States:
The desire of U.S. businesses for cheap labor. U.S. consumers' demand for low-cost food. Immigrants' desire for work.
The positives ultimately outweigh the negatives for U.S. citizens, Dr. Gamboa says.
Migrant workers "give Americans the lowest food prices in the world," he says.They also provide low-cost labor in other industries, such as the fast-food industry.Even urban dwellers are hiring immigrants to do things they used to do themselves, such as housework and gardening.
Dr. Gamboa says the U.S. is developing an "immigrant-driven economy," and, given U.S. demographics such as the low birth rate of white Americans, "the U.S. is likely to face increased labor shortages in low-skill industries."
But, he notes, the U.S. will also be facing labor shortages in skilled occupations over the coming years.
The changes in Hispanic immigration into the U.S., however, have caused more and more children to face increasing hardships, Dr. Gamboa told the National Migrant Education Conference.This has caused a "reversal of the American Dream."
If the U.S. wants the advantages of an immigrant-driven economy, it must also provide immigrants with hope and opportunity to rise out of poverty, he says.
"Nothing does more to raise a person's socio-economic status than education," he adds.
Dr. Gamboa challenged educators and government officials to continue to enhance educational opportunities for migrant children, to maintain federal programs promoting English as a second language, and to increase higher-education migrant programs, such as CAMP.
He said migrant education leaders must also help the non-migrant population "to look meaningfully at the migrant population" and understand migrants' plight and potential in U.S. society.
Dr. Gamboa also noted a U.S. Supreme Court decision during World War II that prevented the government from banning the teaching of German language and customs in German-American communities in the U.S.
"Every community has the right to exist and the right to be different, regardless of language and regardless of culture," Dr. Gamboa said.He encouraged Hispanics to maintain their language and culture while assimilating the new language and knowledge needed to prosper in the U.S.
Yakima Herald Republic Online - Annual - Yakima, Washington News, Classifieds, Information, Advertising, 2 April 2006 [cached]
Erasmo GamboaHe saw a void in history, and worked to fill itYakima Herald Republic Online - Annual - Yakima, Washington News, Classifieds, Information, Advertising
Erasmo Gamboa , He saw a void in history, and worked to fill it
As the child of migrant farm workers in Sunnyside, Erasmo Gamboa never dreamed he'd see the inside of a university classroom, let alone lead one.
But defying the odds, there he was , a student in a Pacific Northwest History class at the University of Washington , the day he realized what he wanted to do with his life.
"The quarter ended and there was no reference to the history of people of Mexican descent," he says.
He knew that families like his had been playing a significant role in the success of farming in the region for years but had been left out of textbooks.
"I sort of was challenged by that, and in that way I decided to become a historian," he says.
Now in his 26th year as an associate professor in the American Ethnic Studies department at the University of Washington, the man who spent his childhood working in row crops in the Lower Valley is considered an expert on the history of Latino people in the Pacific Northwest.
Gamboa's father, who was born in Mexico, moved his family to the Sunnyside area from Edinburg, Texas, in 1947.
With work to be done in the fields before and after school, there was little time for Gamboa or his 11 brothers and sisters to think about education, he says.And there was no expectation of going to college, not just for Latino students like himself, but for others in Sunnyside, he says.
"Our vision of the horizon was confined more to the immediate community," he says.
He decided to extend his by joining the U.S. Navy after he graduated from Sunnyside High School in 1960.
"My experiences there taught me the value of education and demonstrated in numerous ways the difference between a person who held a degree and someone who did not hold a degree."
So in 1965 he began taking classes at Yakima Valley Community College.He didn't finish a degree there, but enrolled at the University of Washington in 1968.
At the time, Gamboa was one of only about 30 Latino students at UW, where he was instrumental in forming the United Mexican American Student organization.He earned his master's and doctorate degrees in history there and began publishing his research about the history of Latinos in the Northwest.
He began teaching in the department of American Ethnic Studies in 1980, a year before his friend Lauro Flores became department chair.
"Erasmo was our only full-time faculty member in that center," Flores says.
Gamboa says he doesn't tell his personal story in his classes, but hopes that his students acquire a better understanding of where they come from and leave his classes better prepared to face cultural challenges.
"My experiences in the greater Yakima area shaped who I am," he says."I'm proud of maybe having defied the expectation of people."
Gamboa has published books about Latinos in Idaho, Washington and Oregon and teaches courses in UW's Chicano studies program and in its history and Latin American studies departments.
"Erasmo has been a trailblazer in the sense that he's focused on the aspect or an area of Chicano history that nobody else was paying attention to," he says."Erasmo is really kind of in a field of his own."
Erasmo Gamboa
Claim to fame: An associate professor of American Ethnic Studies at the University of Washington, Gamboa is known as the leading expert on the history of Latino people in the Pacific Northwest.
Ties to Yakima Valley: The Gamboa family, who were farm workers, moved to the Sunnyside area when Erasmo was 5 years old.He graduated from Sunnyside High School in 1960 and studied at Yakima Valley Community College for a few years.
Current home: He has lived in Seattle since 1968 after leaving the Yakima area to enroll at the University of Washington.He is married and has two daughters who live in Seattle.
Tour educates UW faculty, 20 June 2006 [cached]
"Don't be dissuaded by country music, conservative talk radio," joked Erasmo Gamboa, a UW associate professor of American ethic studies, who met the tour in Central Washington.
Some encouraged faculty members to bring their own teachings to that part of the state, including Gamboa, who has worked in Eastern Washington to collect oral histories from elderly Latinos.
He asked his visiting colleagues to consider expanding their research to the area and including local students in their work.Eastern Washington is different, he acknowledged, but that should not deter them from exploring research opportunities there.
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