|Jennifer R. Nájera
Jennifer Nájera received her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin as well as a Master's degree in Education and a Bachelor's degree in Anthropology from Stanford University. Her research interests include undocumented students in higher education, public pedagogy, Mexican origin people and race, and U.S. borderland studies, and Chicana feminisms.
Her book, The Borderlands of Race: Mexican Segregation in a South Texas Town (University of Texas Press, 2015), is an historical ethnography that provides a layered rendering and analysis of Mexican segregation in a South Texas community in the first half of the 20th century. Using oral histories and local archives, it illuminates Mexican origin peoples’ experiences with segregation. Through their stories and supporting documentary evidence, this book shows how the ambiguous racial status of Mexican origin people allowed some of them to be exceptions to the rule of Anglo racial dominance. This book demonstrates that while such exceptionality might suggest the permeability of the color line, in fact the selective and limited incorporation of Mexicans into Anglo society actually reinforced segregationist practices well beyond landmark national legal mandates of desegregation. Finally, this book reveals how the actions of everyday people ultimately challenged racial/racist ideologies and created meaningful spaces for Mexicans in spheres historically dominated by Anglos. As such, this local examination of the history of Mexican segregation illuminates larger issues about race, nation, and belonging in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.
Professor Nájera’s new research is about the educational imperatives of undocumented students in higher education. Specifically, she is exploring the ways that students educate themselves and the outside community about issues that are relevant to undocumented youth who are interested in pursuing higher education. These range from teaching about newly enacted state and federal policies that affect immigrants to providing resources to address the emotional stress of being undocumented. In this way, these undocumented students take education out of the classroom and into the community, challenging notions of who can be a purveyor of knowledge and who can have access to such knowledge.
Professor Nájera's courses include: Introduction to Chicano/a Studies (002), The Conditions of Education for Chicano/as (108F), La Chicana (124), The History of Mexican Immigration to the United States (108I), Race, Class, and Gender (131), undergraduate and graduate research methods (191R and 203), Critical Race Perspectives in Latino/a Education (204), and Borders, Borderlands, and Chicano/a Studies (244).