Dr. Eladio B. Bobadilla is an assistant professor of history and Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies at the University of Kentucky.
He was born in rural Garcia de la Cadena, in the state of Zacatecas, Mexico to a poor family headed by Benjamin Bobadilla, a farm worker and musician; and Lucina Mariscal de Bobadilla, a homemaker. They lived in a small adobe house in the village of La Ceja, where Bobadilla attended a makeshift elementary school that served the small community. His father was a bracero, and later, a seasonal migrant worker, who worked in the United States for several months at a time before returning home to spend the off-season.
In 1997, he migrated to the United States to live in Central California, where his father had worked for several years in the grape fields. There, he attended Almond Tree Middle School before attending Delano High School, then the only high school in the city of the same name, made famous by the farm workers movement of Cesar Chavez and his United Farm Workers union.
Though he dreamed of going to college, his undocumented immigrant status prevented him from doing so immediately after high school. About a year after graduating DHS, however, he received permanent resident status and immediately enlisted in the United States Navy.
In November of 2005, he shipped out to the Navy’s Recruit Training Command (RTC) in Great Lakes, Illinois. There, he was promoted while still a recruit and graduated in January of 2006. Immediately following his basic training, he received advanced training (“Apprenticeship School”) as a Personnel Specialist from the Naval Technical Training Center (NTCC) located at Naval Air Station (NAS) in Meridian, Mississippi.
He was then stationed at the Personnel Support Detachment Afloat West in San Diego, CA, where he was promoted to Petty Officer Third Class. In 2008, he was deployed to Camp Virginia, a forward operating base in the Kuwaiti desert, in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF). He was honorably discharged in November of 2009 with high evaluations and a number of military distinctions, including the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, a Flag Letter of Commendation, the Navy Expert Pistol Shot Medal, the Navy Rifle Sharpshooter Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.
Following his military service, he attended Weber State University (in Ogden, UT) and graduated with a Bachelor of Integrated Studies degree in History, English, and International Politics (completing his degree in three years, magna cum laude and with departmental honors) in 2012. At Weber State, he was a member of Phi Alpha Theta (the National History Honor Society), the Pinnacle Honor Society, and the Golden Key International Honor Society. In his last year of college, he was recognized as the College of Social and Behavioral Science’s Outstanding Graduate and awarded the university’s highest academic honor for students when he was named Crystal Crest Scholar of the Year.
He enrolled in the history PhD program at Duke University in 2013, where he was awarded the Dean’s Graduate Fellowship. While at Duke, he also received several other prestigious fellowships and grants, including the Gilder Lehrman Scholarly Fellowship, the Mellon Fellowship for Dissertation Research in Original Sources, the Ottis Green Fellowship, a Bass Instructional Fellowship, the John Higham Research Fellowship, and the George Pozzetta Dissertation Award. In May of 2019, he completed his dissertation, titled “‘One People without Borders’: The Lost Roots of the Immigrants’ Rights Movement, 1954-2006,” under the supervision of his primary adviser, Dr. Nancy MacLean. In 2020, the dissertation was awarded the Herbert G. Gutman Prize from the Labor and Working-Class History Association (LAWCHA). His first book, based on his dissertation and tentatively titled Without Border: The Roots and Consequences of the Immigrants’ Rights Movement, will be published by the University of Illinois Press as part of the Working Class in American History series.
Outside of his professional life, he loves motorcycling and following sports, especially college basketball and professional soccer. He is an avid supporter of Real Salt Lake. He currently lives in Lexingon, KY, with his wife and son.