Montoya to Lead Western History Association

Nov 15 2019

NYU Shanghai Dean of Arts and Sciences Maria Montoya has been named President Elect of the Western History Association (WHA), an organization that promotes the study of the North American West. As President-Elect, Montoya will serve on the Executive Committee of the 1,100-member association of historians and scholars and become its President beginning in the fall of 2020. 

A native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Montoya is also a NYU Global Network Associate Professor of History who has dedicated her academic career to teaching, researching, writing about the American West. She is the author of numerous articles and the book, Translating Property: The Maxwell Land Grant and the Conflict over Land in the American West, 1840-1900, as well as the lead author on the history textbook, Global Americans: A Social and Global History of the United States (2018). She is finishing up a manuscript, Making the Working Man’s Paradise: Progressive Management of Workers and Their Families in the Colorado Coalfields.

Since arriving at NYU Shanghai in 2016, Montoya has taught courses on the History of the United STates and the History of Water. Living and working in Shanghai, Montoya said, has had a significant influence on her teaching and research.  “The History of Water course used to be mostly about the American West. However, since coming to NYU Shanghai I have made the class comparative as I learn more about our two countries' shared problems: maintaining clean safe water as well as creating adequate energy resources through hydropower and the resulting consequences,” she said.



Dean of Arts and Sciences Maria Montoya interviews former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at last month’s meeting of the Western History Association in Las Vegas, Nevada. The pair discussed Sen. Reid’s path to public service, from his humble background in small town Nevada to the U.S. Capitol. 

Montoya said her experiences in Shanghai will also shape her presidency of the WHA. “My Presidential Address for the WHA Meeting in 2021 will focus on the migration of peoples, ideas, and technologies between the American West and China, historically and up to the present,” she said. “I am framing it around my own experience of moving between these two vibrant, but very different geographies. I am very excited to be spending the next two years doing the research for this project.”

Montoya has been a member of the WHA since the 1980s, and has attended nearly every meeting since. “This organization has fostered a deep relationship with scholars and life-long friends who share the same passion,” Montoya said. “I am deeply honored to be chosen as the President-elect of the WHA and I look forward to serving the organization with pride, dedication, and passion for an organization that has been my intellectual home for decades.”