Brackenridge Introduction: Connor Diaz

Hi all! My name is Connor Diaz and I am stoked to be a part of the Summer 2023 Brackenridge Fellowship. My project, currently titled “Becoming American: Adopting the ‘American’ Identity,” focuses on various formulations of what it means to “be American” throughout history. Specifically, I’m interested in how these formulations took form among displaced indigenous communities in the 19th century and how such formulations contrast earlier ones created by Euro-Americans during the Founding. If time permits, I’d love to take this project a step further and consider the implications of these various formulations of the American identity with respect to settler colonialism as a historical framework and contemporary notions of cultural appropriation. 

My faculty mentor for this project is Dr. Niklas Frykman, associate professor in the Department of History and scholar of Atlantic maritime history. I’ve taken several courses with Dr. Frykman and I think he will be the perfect person to guide me through my Brackenridge journey. 

As a mixed-race child of immigrant parents hailing from countries that were former colonies of the United States, understanding how historical conceptions of the American identity inform those of today is very important to me and something that I hope will help me figure out where I fit in.

I’m currently a rising junior double-majoring in history and law, criminal justice, and society (yes—that second thing is only one major despite sounding like three). Right now, my main goal is to attend graduate school in whatever form that may be. From how much I enjoyed my tutoring job in high school, I know that I would thrive as a teacher and am therefore considering pursuing a master’s degree in teaching/education. I don’t, however, have much experience in the field of independent academic research. I’m hoping that the Brackenridge Fellowship will be helpful in this regard and help me decide if academic historical research is something I want to pursue for the rest of my life and if I should, therefore, pursue a graduate degree in history. My law, criminal justice, and society major also leaves the law school door open. So, I have a lot of options on the table right now. I’m hoping that the Brackenridge Fellowship will help me narrow them down a bit by giving me the opportunity to try my hand at academic research. 

One fun fact about me is that I go to a lot of concerts. So far in 2023, I’ve been to twenty-two. I really love the underground/DIY music scene here in Pittsburgh and try to make it to as many gigs as I possibly can. So, if ever you want to talk about local music, I’m your guy! Another fun fact about me is that I started rock climbing about six months ago.

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