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Graduate Students

Lizette Arevalo
Lizette "Lucha" Arévalo

B.A. Sociology, Chicana/o Studies, and Black Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara

M.A. Sociology and Education with Policy Studies Concentration
Columbia University

Since Lizette "Lucha" Arévalo's undergraduate experience at UC Santa Barbara, her primary research interests have been social issues related to race relations among Black and Latina/o communities and the privatization of public k-12 schools in Los Angeles and New York. Lucha's previous research revealed strategies of “McCharterization of public education”: the public and private partnership that has influenced neoliberal education policy reforms; the elimination of traditional public schools in “low performing communities”; and the creation of charter schools often controlled by education management corporations. As a graduate student at Columbia University, Lucha strengthened her theoretical foundation in the field of sociology and education to understand the logics that structure education and how this increases the vulnerability of racialized working class communities. Lucha's current work highlights strategies of "low intensity education" and argues for a more sober analysis on the changing nature of state sanctioned violence that incorporates how state violence responds to coalitions across racial lines within a neoliberal urban school context.

Research Interests: K-12 education policy reforms, privatization of public schools, state violence, criminalization of youth, critical theories of race and ethnicity, Black-Latina/o relations, insurgent learning, community agency and autonomy.

   
Iris Blake
Iris Blake

B.A. Music and Art
Arizona State University

M.M. Ethnomusicology, Certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies
University of Texas at Austin

A first year Ethnic Studies PhD student, Iris is interested in how the historical legacy of minstrelsy in burlesque performance continues to inform contemporary burlesque.  She looks at the intersection of musical sound and embodiment as a site of negotiation and meaning-making that affects lived realities and experiences of race, gender, sexuality, and class.

In her Master’s Report, Burlesque: Music, Minstrelsy, and Mimetic Resistance, Iris used music as a lens to show how burlesque, like minstrelsy, has functioned on the historical erasure of Black and Brown bodies. She highlighted the work being done by queer and of color burlesque performers through disidentification and mimetic resistance to make space for alternate histories and modes of being in burlesque. Iris plans to expand this work into a collaborative ethnography that centers the work of queer and of color burlesque performers and supports performances that open up space for multiple ways of being and performing burlesque.

Research Interests: Performance Theory, Music and Sound Studies, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, Burlesque Performance and Blackface Minstrelsy, Feminist and Queer Theories, Collaborative Ethnography, Cultural Studies, Postcolonial Theory, Affect Theory

   
Angelica Camacho
Angelica "Pickels" Camacho

B.A. 2010, Black Studies and Chicana/o Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara
E-mail: angelica.camacho@email.ucr.edu

Angelica Camacho is a 6th year graduate student in the Ethnic Studies Department at the University of California, Riverside. Her current research deals with the organizing efforts around the Pelican Bay California Prisoner Hunger Strikes by incarcerated people and their loved ones. Through her work she engages incarcerated people and their families’ theorizing on social transformation and places it in conversation with previous visions of radical revolutionary social movements. She examines the ways prisoners have used their bodies, spirit, and mental strength against the prison apparatus to create a rupture in the process that relegates them to property. In addition, she explores how the criminalization of Latino communities has contributed to the rise of the prison industrial complex in California and an anesthetization to the brutality of Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Units (SHU).

For future projects, Angelica is also interested in thinking about how issues around food, including health and community regeneration, are impacted by the prison industrial complex. More specifically, the ways in which the politics of food in prison are deployed to socially and politically control racialized aggrieved communities, creating conditions in which prisoners are more vulnerable to premature death.

As an undergraduate at UC Santa Barbara her research examined how the criminalization and incarceration of black and brown youth manifested through the public school system in the service of capital and white supremacy. Her intellectual work aims to shift the dominant narratives of criminality that target and scapegoat communities of color into counter-hegemonic narratives that highlight social struggles for life and liberation.

Research Interests: Prison Industrial Complex, Moral Panics, Latin@ Criminalization, Criminalization of Youth, Prayer and Spirituality, Social Movements, War on Drugs, Revolution V. Reform, Zapatismo, Cultural Studies, Community Wellness & Safety, School-to-Prison Pipeline, Gang Injunctions/Enhancements, RICO, Food Sovereignty, Indigenous Resistance, Insurgent Learning, and Activist- Scholarship

   
Lizette Arevalo
Jalondra A. Davis

BA in English Loyola Marymount University

Masters of Professional Writing University of Southern California

Jalondra A. Davis has always had a love of learning and an interest in the stories of those whose voices are so often silenced. As an African American Studies minor at Loyola Marymount University, she focused her coursework and research on African American women, and literary and cultural expression. An active Black community student leader, she served on the executive boards of Black Student Union, Sistah Friends, and Sankofa Society and received several campus awards for scholarship and service. After completing her masters she began teaching as an adjunct lecturer while revising her novel, but fell in love with the projects of educating diverse student populations, producing Black Studies scholarship, and coordinating educational and cultural programs targeted at both urban campuses and inner-city communities. Her research interests include Africana literature and Africana feminisms with an emphasis on the theories, experiences, and creative production of Black women in the Diaspora. She is also interested in cultural entrepreneurship, arts activism, and the need for more emphasis on engaged scholarship in the humanities. She continues to write creatively and has published a novel, BUTTERFLY JAR, a coming-of-age story set amidst the 1992 Los Angeles uprisings.

Research Interests: Africana feminisms; gender, sexuality and reproductive politics in Black Studies; African American literature and cultural movements; spoken word poetry; Black women’s speculative and urban fiction; engaged scholarship in the humanities

   
Renee Elisaldez
Renee Elisaldez

B.A. in Journalism with a minor in Spanish from California State University, Long Beach.

M.A. in Mexican-American Studies from California State University, Los Angeles

During her Master's program she worked as a high school Spanish teacher for 3 years. She is now a doctoral student in the department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Riverside. Her research interests include feminist theory and critical media theory within the field of Chicano/a Studies. Specifically, she is looking at how the mass media effects Latina teenage girl sexual attitudes and behaviors, and advocates for critical media literacy, including an in depth analysis of the political economy of the mass media. A recent project was contributing as a researcher and interviewer for an oral history documentary about significant women who have contributed to the community of East Los Angeles, entitled “Las Grandes de East L.A.” 

Research interests: Feminist theory and critical media theory within the field of Chicano/a Studies.

   
Jessica Fremland
Jessica Fremland

B.A. Sociology, American Indian Studies, and Global Studies, 2012
Magna Cum Laude
University of Minnesota Twin Cities

MSc Sociology (Contemporary Social Thought), 2013
Merit
London School of Economics and Political Science

Jessica Fremland is a current PhD student in the Ethnic Studies Department at the University of California, Riverside.  During her undergraduate career she focused primarily on Dakota language revitalization in the Dakota/Lakota communities of Minnesota.  Her research focused on the colonial influences of the American Indian Blood Quantum, and modern day identity policing.  Her Master’s Thesis, entitled "Performing Motherhood: Celebrity Intercountry Adoptions, Rescue Culture, and the Reification of Patriarchal Motherhood” argued that media representations of celebrity intercountry adoptions utilize white savior rhetoric to reify patriarchal notions of motherhood and patriarchal relationships to underdeveloped nations. After completing her master’s degree at LSE, she returned to her hometown of San Diego, California.  She taught for a year at San Diego Mesa College before commencing her PhD program at UCR.

Currently, Jessica is interested in researching media and cultural representations of Native American women, and their correlations to heightened experiences of gender-based violence.  Ultimately, Jessica hopes that by uncovering a link between colonial representations of women and the disproportionate experience of gender-based violence in native communities, she can shed light on another avenue of decolonization.

Research Interests: Native American Studies, Settler Colonialism, Decolonization, Indigenous Feminism, Media and Cultural Studies, Dakota Language and Revitalization

   
Romina Garcia
Romina Garcia

B.A. Columbia College, Cultural Studies

As a Cultural Studies major at Columbia College, I learned how to examine communities through their cultural practices, social structure and political dynamics they were nested in, and the ways in which knowledge is produced, regulated, distributed and consumed within communities. I also learned to see Cultural Studies not only as a particular approach within the wider field of the study of culture, but also as an intellectual and political project committed to imagining and bringing about a better social order.

Wanting to contribute to this project, my senior capstone thesis investigated the intersection of ethnic identity, gentrification, and commodified urban culture. As a case study, I chose Pilsen, a historically working class immigrant enclave, which has been one of the major hubs of Mexican culture and community in Chicago. I was born and raised in Pilsen and consider it a space and place that represents a convergence of history, culture, and policy. The community of Pilsen and its distinct features along with my lived experiences, clearly link my undergraduate work and my developing interest in people but more specifically with the Mexican/Chicano population. This project, entitled “From Identity to Commodity: Dialectics and Impacts of the Neoliberal (De)-Valorization of a Gentrifying Chicago Community” was a year-long research project. My thesis sought to understand the commodification of Mexican (and Latino) identity and culture, as well as the kind of Mexican subjectivity that is constructed through specific neoliberal urban and cultural policies and practices. Specifically, I tracked the appropriation of Mexican-ness by Chicago's ruling and business elites.

As a Chicana woman, a once teenage mother, and a DV survivor, I began to question the specific role of Mexican/Chicana women in our rapidly changing communities. My desire to pursue a PhD is guided by a set of intersecting questions, such as how are Chicana/Mexican mothers in an urban context dealing with issues of gentrification, violence, schooling, and parenting trends? What do the gendered/cultural expectations in the home do to the women who chose to become mothers and what kind of ethnic expectations outside of the home continue to influence women of color who are mothers?  How do Chicana/Mexican women who are mothers self-identify? How do Chicana/Mexican women who are mothers navigate being depicted as foreign in the workplace and in the media? How does class and income come into play when it comes to mothering and the gendered/cultural paradigms of motherhood in the Chicano/Mexican community?  I am interested in the relationship between women of color who are mothers and the building of alternative constructions of motherhood. In addition to my Chicana/Mexican mothers in urban contexts research I am also interested in examining human trafficking/sex economy of Latina bodies in cantinas.  How is the commodification of Latinas perpetuated by gendered/cultural expectations?  What kind of gender/cultural mechanisms are behind recruitment and control?  How do cultural expressions like "te gusta la mala vida" and the “American Dream” influence violence towards women of color.  Also, how does femicide, rape culture and slut-shaming help operate the continued psychological manipulation of Latinas in sex trafficking environments.

Research Interests: Chicana feminisms, gender, sexuality and reproductive politics of Chicano Studies, Cultural Studies, girl studies, knowledge production, gender violence, critical race theory, human rights, immigration, popular culture.

   
Ren-yo Hwang
Ren-yo Hwang

Renyohwang@gmail.com
PhD candidate

M.A. Asian American Studies, 2012
University of California, Los Angeles
B.A. in Philosophy, 2005
Bryn Mawr College

Areas of Study: Critical Race Studies, Transgender/Gender Studies, Queer/LGBT Studies, Police and Prison Studies, Criminology, New Social Movements, Political Geography, Collaborative Ethnography, Community Participatory Action Research, Affective Labor and Affect Studies

Project Topics: Los Angeles political history, hate crimes legislation and activism, restorative justice, transformative justice, community & state accountability, antiviolence policy and LGBT organizing

Ren-yo Hwang’s current research is largely concerned with what forms of accountability, antiviolence organizing, justice and liberation are envisioned and materialized throughout the socio-political geography of Los Angeles. Hwang’s dissertation, Beyond Hate Crimes and Restorative Justice: Organizing Against Violence in Los Angeles 1984-2015, analyzes the material trail of knowledge and practices resulting from the uneasy collaborations between state agencies and historically marginalized communities, particularly queer and transgender people of color communities in Los Angeles. Through the lenses of three distinct yet mired paradigms of justice, 1) the criminal justice system, 2) restorative justice reforms, and more recently 3) transformative justice interventions, the dissertation argues how, in the span of thirty years, hate crimes legislation and law enforcement practices conditioned and dictated the priorities for local antiviolence community-based organizations and nonprofits. Examining policy initiatives, legislative trends, data collection methods, annual hate crime reports, public records, community archives, alongside community-centered ethnographic roundtables and participatory action research, Hwang’s dissertation further distinguishes how restorative and transformative justice might offer a two-pronged approach to addressing the shortcomings of hate crime-related policy, advocacy, and legislation of the criminal justice system.

M.A. thesis (2012): Collectivity, Consolidation and Contradictions: Conversations Between the University, Authority and Trans of Color Activism

   
Tomoyo Joshi
Tomoyo Joshi

Tomoyo is a 1.5 generation Japanese American born in Kyoto, Japan, and raised in the Bay Area. At Oberlin College, her honors thesis “Managing Racist Pasts: the Black Justice League’s Demand for Inclusion and Its Challenge to the Promise of Diversity at Princeton University” examined the discourse of diversity in Princeton’s online diversity initiative page “Many Voices, One Future,” and how Black student activism challenged the rhetoric of inclusion that the administration embodied. As a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow, her research interests have included Asian and Asian American studies, women of color feminisms, the politics of knowledge production, and critical race theory.

Given her background of growing up in both the United States and Japan, Tomoyo is curious about the relationship between memory, nationalism, colonialism and racism, as well as how these ideas are produced or disrupted through the lens of U.S. and Japanese militarism. At UC Riverside, she plans to conduct transnational and comparative research on how servicemen of Japanese descent in World War II are remembered in institutions of public memory, such as museums, memorials and monuments, in Okinawa and Hawai’i. How do institutions of memory in Okinawa and Hawai’i negotiate narratives of Japanese soldiers within the violent geographies of racism, nationalism and neocolonialism? And how does the narrative of heroic military sacrifice deployed by museums memorials or monuments implicate indigenous people in these sites to conceal imperialist and militaristic violence produced by Japanese and U.S. empire? In addressing these questions, she wishes to use an interdisciplinary approach of visual and textual discourse analysis combined with historical and archival research.

Through this research and other future projects, Tomoyo wishes to align herself with scholars that call for Asians, regardless of generational status, to critically examine their own settler positions within whichever empire they may be serving. Her experience of liminality in the United States and Japan informs her investment in the (re)telling of a story, one that that centers decolonization, in an interdisciplinary discursive space that rejects narratives of both American exceptionalism and Japanese victimization.

Research Interests: intersections of Asian and Asian American studies, the politics of knowledge production, nationalism, U.S. and Japanese militarism, critical race theory, settler colonial studies, feminist and queer theory, affect theory, memory studies, cultural studies .
   
Beth Kopacz
Beth Kopacz

B.A. Earth Systems, Environment, and Society
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

M.A. Asian American Studies
University of California, Los Angeles

As a Korean American adoptee, Beth Kopacz has always been critically invested in understanding the inherent tensions and contradictions of the transnational adoption system.  During her Master’s degree program in Asian American Studies at UCLA, she began to explore these questions when she directed the documentary, Who is Park Joo Young?  Through this creative medium, she utilized film to address the tangible ways that adoptee subjecthood and narrative become circulated, cohered, and mobilized as discursive investments in particular birth family ‘reunion’ tropes.

From this work, Beth is currently interested in examining the role of genetic science in adoptee reunion narratives and kinship networks.  She particularly hopes to understand how new technologies such as commercial direct-to-consumer DNA tests and birth parent ‘paternity’ tests rupture and reify adoptee ideals of identity and kinship, especially as these desires are fraught by geopolitical ties to empire.

Research Interests: Korean American adoptees, transnational and transracial adoption, DNA testing, feminist science and technology studies, kinship, new media, critical Asian American studies

   
William Madrigal
William Madrigal

Will is California Indian and an enrolled member of the Cahuilla Band of Indians located here in Riverside County. He grew up on the reservation learning and practicing his traditional ways. He is a Native Educator and Cultural Resource Manager, having worked for numerous tribal governments in Riverside/San Bernardino counties. As an undergrad at UCR, he was fortunate to collaborate with his professors on a joint project, Keeping the Songs Alive: California Indian Historical Perspectives (2010). This project actively sought to provide the forgotten voices and perspectives of the California native peoples regarding California indigenous: epistemologies, conversations on race, notions about the colonization of traditional native gender roles, ethno-musicology, local historiography and origin narratives, and the root of indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge. The DVD is now being used as an educational resource.

Will’s grad work will include de-constructing native studies through an interdisciplinary, indigenous lens. Archival study of his Cahuilla ancestry and interactions with early colonizers in Riverside County, with regards to impacts on the economic and socio-political identity of the region, are also being studied.

   
Cinthya Martinez
Cinthya Martinez

B.A. Ethnic Studies, Political Science
University of California San Diego

M.A. Chicana and Chicano Studies
California State University Northridge

Cinthya Martinez is a first generation Chicana from the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California. She completed a Masters of Arts degree at California State University department of Chicana and Chicano Studies. In her Master’s thesis titled “Gendered Necropolitics at las Fronteras: Gendered Spatial Death and Violence at the U.S.- Mexico border and Israel- Palestine Border(s)” she conducts a comparative analysis of the U.S. Mexico border and the Israel-Palestine borders as gendered-racial sites of death and violence. She develops an intersectional theoretical lens of a gendered necropower by engaging Native feminist geographers, border feminists, and biopolitics theorists to connect current gendered violence and death at the borders as techniques rooted in colonial spatial arrangements. Through a feminist discourse analysis of border political rhetoric in Israel and the U.S., she demonstrates the gendered processes of Latina/o migrants, Palestinians, land, borders, and the state itself, utilized to legitimize and rationalize borders. 

As a PhD student, Cinthya is currently interested in expanding her analysis of gendered necropower at the fronteras/borders by including a third border as a site for comparison and employing ethnographic methods that center women’s narratives of violence, survival, and resistance.  She is also currently interested in investigating the border technology and weaponry corporations involved in constructing these state-national territorial demarcations as gendered-sexual deathworlds. Ultimately, Cinthya’s work locates gender and sex as instruments of state power that inflict violence and death to uphold concepts of citizenship and borders.

   
Aaron Munoz-Alvarado
Aaron Muñoz-Alvarado

B.A. American Studies and Women & Gender Studies
University of California, Davis

Aaron’s current research attempts to understand how student of color activism at U.S. educational institutions from the 1990’s till now serve as critical moments for how multicultural ideologies, that began to develop in the United States in response to 1960’s protests, fully formed into institutional practices.

Research Interests: Chican@ Studies; Critical Theory; Critical University Studies; Feminist Theories and Epistemologies; Politics of Knowledge; Politics of Institutionalized Multiculturalism; and Queer of Color Critique. 

   
Julio Orellana
Julio Orellana

B.A Ethnic Studies
Humboldt State University

Single-Subject Teaching Credential (Social Science)
California State University, Los Angeles

M.A Political Science
California State University, Northridge

Before pursuing graduate school, Julio worked as a teacher for almost seven years at the Los Angeles Unified School District. Since then he has worked as a school and youth coordinator for the non-profit Asian-Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles. There, he focused on working with high school youth of color by engaging them in the process of Youth Participatory Action Research. In the past, he worked with Latino day-laborers through the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s former City of Lights Program. He conducted popular education workshops on bicycle safety and cyclist rights. His community work also includes working for the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development. 

Currently, Julio’s research is primarily focused on Latino politics. As a rapidly increasing population at the national level, his research enters the Latino politics debate by exploring the contradiction of the Latino community. As a large, marginalized and extremely diverse group, the “Latino community” continues to suffer from a lack of full-incorporation into the social and economic institutions of the United States; despite being a potentially powerful electoral bloc. On this premise, the research asks how multiple Latino communities are responding to attacks on their community by the state and how they are resisting both within and outside the arena of electoral politics. As an interdisciplinary project, Julio’s research will employ paradigms which work within and beyond those used in political science and other traditional social science disciplines.  

Research Interests: Latino Politics, Social Movements, Race and Ethnicity, Urban Politics, Immigration, Mass Political Behavior, Participatory Action Research.

   
FrankPerez
Frank Perez

Frank holds a BA in Sociology: Law and Society Emphasis from CSULA and MA in Sociology from CSUF. He has done activism and taught classes centered on educational funding/budget cuts, stopping violence against women and LGBTQIPSA communities, and community outreach and coalition building. He’s also taught Sociology at the Community College and Chican@ Studies at the CSU levels

Frank is a bi-racial (Cuban and Anglo American) first generation college/graduate/PhD student born and raised in southern California. He started out in the California Community College system eventually making it UCR’s Ethnic Studies doctoral program. His previous research centered on various pedagogies used by professors at a public university. His work sought to qualitatively demonstrate how professors came develop self transforming pedagogies, which teaching methods were used to inspire students to transform, and show how certain institutional factors limit instructors’ ability to teaching in transformational ways.

Frank is looking at the impact of social justice teaching on a broader scale. He wants to see how teachers at both K-12 and higher academic levels can use critical and transformative pedagogies to help push students along the academic pipeline. Frank is also interested in examining how various California propositions in the 1990’s led to the devaluation of public schools and criminalization of Black and Brown youth. He hopes to provide policy and curricular interventions that will promote equalization and diversification of education throughout public schools and universities.

   
Justin Quang Nguyên Phan
Justin Quang Nguyên Phan

B.A. Women & Gender Studies, Asian American Studies, and Sociology
University of California, Davis

Justin Quang Nguyên Phan is an M.A. student in the Southeast Asian Studies Program and a Ph.D. student in the Ethnic Studies Department. Justin’s current research interests seek to critically examine the cultural, political, and economic legacies of de/colonization and war making specifically in Vietnam and among the Vietnamese diaspora, and how these legacies intersect with gendered relations, nationalism, race, embodiment, and fashion.

Research Interests: Transnational Feminisms, (Post)Colonialism, Militarism, Asian American Studies, Southeast Asian Studies, Critical Fashion Studies.

   
Loubna Qutami
Loubna Qutami

B.A. Sociology
San Francisco State University

M.A. Ethnic Studies with a concentration in Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas 
San Francisco State University

Loubna Qutami has completed a Masters of Arts degree in the College of Ethnic Studies: Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative at San Francisco State University. Her Master’s Thesis Transnational Belonging: Palestinian Youth Searching for Home interrogates the imagined and real boundaries impacting transnational Palestinian youth movements and belonging to homeland. Her MA thesis challenges the bonds of text on nationalism, Diaspora, displacement, erasure, refugee-hood, exile and placelessness by situating the topics in a critical race and resistance lens and using activist ethnographic methods.

Her most recent work includes a co-publication with Dr. Mona El-Khafif titled "Beyond Census: The Lives of Middle Eastern Communities in a Post 9-11 America.” Loubna is also the author of several other works including Images from a Shattered Mirror, “Being Palestinian: Personal Reflections on Palestinian Identity in the Diaspora,” edited by Yasir Suleiman, Edinburgh University Press Ltd of The Tun - Holyrood Road, 12 (2f) Jackson’s (Spring 2015), Rethinking the Single Story: BDS, Transnational Cross Movement Building and the Palestine Analytic; Social Text, Periscope dossier special issue: Circuits of Influence: US, Israel, Palestine; (June, 2014) and No Revolution is Perfect: Palestinian Youth Perspectives on Syria, Palestine and a Liberated Arab Region; Pulse Media (March 2014).

Qutami's research background is largely informed by her grassroots community organizing history, especially as scholar-activist. She is devoted to producing scholarship and developing pedagogies that aim to diminish the gap between the academy and our communities and theory and practice.  Qutami is most known for being a founder, member, and central organizer in the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM), a transnational body of young Palestinians who have come together to re-vitalize a grassroots movement for the full liberation of and return to their homeland. In their April 2011 Second International General Assembly in Istanbul, Turkey; Qutami was elected as the movements International General Coordinator and ended her term in August of 2014. From October of 2011 until the summer of 2013, Qutami served as the Executive Director of the Arab Cultural and Community Center of San Francisco where she spent five years prior working in various programs including youth empowerment, violence prevention, women's programming, social services, cultural programs and more.

Research Interests: Transnational Arab and Palestinian social movements with a special focus on student and youth organizing, transnational feminisms and settler colonialism. Arab regional changes in the context of global re-configurations of power and expansion of globalization and neo-liberalism. Anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia, Arab racial formations, immigration; US Census and genealogies of structures of racial exclusion, oppression and inequity. 

   
A.E. Raza
A.E. Raza

B.A., 2007, Political Science and Chicana/o Studies
University of California, Los Angeles

M.S., 2010, Justice Studies
Arizona State University

My dissertation explores the relationship between universal human rights, and national and international law as applied to forced migrants, specifically asylum seekers and refugees. The purpose of this project is to better understand how juridical universality currently functions to support a racialized hierarchy of humanity. By centering refugees and asylum seekers, my work seeks to explore the paradoxes of human rights doctrines and practices, including implications of having categorical differentiations within human rights doctrine. Through my work I seek to bridge the fields of ethnic studies and human rights in order to reconceptualize notions of humanity and the law. For my dissertation I plan on examining how the racial frames human rights as both a discourse and as a political project, which is used to support and maintain an unequal global order. Empirically and archivally driven, my work centers on the relationship between national immigration policies and international law and their application and interpretation of human rights. In engaging in this research I hope to contribute to contemporary conversations about race, social justice, and the law. 

Research Interests: Critical race studies, human rights, immigration, law, research methods.

   
Marlen Rios
Marlen Rios

B.A. Musicology and Women's Studies
University of California, Los Angeles

Marlen Rios-Hernandez is a Ph.D. student in the Ethnic Studies Department at the University of California, Riverside. Her senior thesis titled “Dominatrix Women and the Modern Day Work Song” analyzed the intersection of gender, post-punk music, sexual agency, and the sex industry.

Her current research revolves around women of color in the early Los Angeles punk rock scene of the late 1970s through the early 1980s. She aims to analyze the roles of gender and sexuality regarding the stigmatization of women as passive participants or sexual objects in music. Marlen’s goal is to raise questions about the private/public sphere in relation to women of color in a genre like punk in the United States. Her research interests include: Feminist Theory, Girl Studies, Critical Race Theory, Sexuality and Gender Studies, Media and Cultural Studies, and Feminist Musicology.

   
Lindsey Schneider
Lindsey Schneider

B.A., 2008, Religious Studies
Willamette University

Lindsey's research interests lie in the intersection of Ethnic Studies, Religious Studies, and Ecology - particularly as they relate to cultural food practices. She examines the ways in which capitalism and commodification have built on the legacy of US colonial policy to separate Indigenous peoples from their cultural food heritage and advance the agenda of the agricultural food complex. By illuminating the connection between land, food, and spirit, she hopes contribute to the movement for Indigenous food sovereignty and community healing.

   
J. Sebastian
J. Sebastian

J. Sebastian earned a Juris Doctor degree from City University of New York, School of Law, after graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder as an English & Biology double major.  J's research interests include the historical and theoretical foundations--and legal legitimacy--of the colonial project; the codification of a racialized, gendered, and heteronormative social order; and the ways that doctrines of conquest and colonization, colonial logic, and genealogies of power continue to work within modern legal systems.  J is interested in challenging the lawyer as "expert" framework within social justice lawyering to form a critical analysis of the role of law in social movement work.

   
Brian Stephens
Brian Stephens

B.A. English and Philosophy
Humboldt State University

M.A. Afro-American Studies
University of California, Los Angeles

Brian Stephens is a Ph.D student in Ethnic Studies at University of California, Riverside. Stephens has completed a Master of Arts degree in Afro-American Studies at University of California, Los Angeles where he specialized in Afro-American literature. His Masters Thesis, “Real Blackness is Played Out: Blackness and the Politics of Performance” argued that black cultural workers could make creative use of anti-black visual iconography to satirically question the essentialist politics of white supremacy and the black politics of respectability. His current research is interested in how non-black cultural workers might be able to use such a political strategy to challenge both anti-black racism and the politics of respectability. Stephens also has a broader interest in the policing of cultural and political outsiders in relationship to the fields of Ethnic Studies, Women’s Studies, and Queer Studies and the impact this policing has on identity formation within institutional spaces.

Research Interests: African-American Literature, African-American Visual Culture, Popular Culture, Gender and Sexuality, blackface minstrelsy

   
Luis Trujillo
Luis Trujillo

As an undergraduate at the University of California Santa Barbara my research was concerned with the processes of contemporary gentrification that took place in Los Angeles, but more specifically of how this was manifested in the neighborhoods of Northeast Los Angeles. Recognizing it as a pattern that was also present in the many other cities throughout the nation, it was inherently tied to the global political-economy that shaped most cities in our globalized society. My intention was to see how culture and media played a role in exacerbating if not facilitating the changes that were taking place in these urban neighborhoods of color. Examining how urban spaces of color were represented in the alternative and mainstream media and how these perceptions of urban spaces of color guided our own understandings of these spaces.

My research now is a continuation from my undergraduate career. I have many of the same questions and a broader scope. I wish to see how race, culture and ethnicity have historically and more contemporaneously come to shape the very structure of the city. Creating the narratives and curbing the possibilities of racialized space.

   
Maria T. Vallarta
Maria T. Vallarta

B.A. Asian American Studies and English
University of California, Berkeley

Maria is a first-generation graduate student from Historic Filipinotown, Los Angeles. At Cal, her senior honors thesis was titled, "Redefining the Dalaga: The Representation and Transformation of Filipina Sexuality in Literature," where she analyzed cultural and literary representations of Filipina sexuality throughout the Philippines' (pre)colonial history and how they have transformed and are still applicable to our time. She hopes to expand and continue her research by exploring how Filipino women have redefined and reclaimed their bodies and sexualities through art, literature, and political activism. She is interested in the integration of creative writing with academic scholarship, in the intersections of social, economic, and emotional justice, and documenting the voices of queer Filipino women. She is also interested in the roles of Filipina activists in the Philippines’ National Democratic Movement.

Research interests: feminist and queer theory, literary and cultural studies, gender and sexuality studies, creative writing, emotional justice, and activist scholarship.

   
Kehaulani Vaughn
Kehaulani Vaughn

B.A. in American Studies from Occidental College.

M.A. in Asian American Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles.

M.Ed. in Counseling in Student Affairs from the University of California, Los Angeles.

As United States imperialism continues to spread beyond its national borders, it is important to look critically at different geographical and temporal sites of US occupation, the growing transnational world, and how the US constructs “democratic states” both domestically and abroad. By examining the legacy of the US as a settler-colonial nation and its institutionalized policies and practices of elimination, I aim to highlight the systematic dispossession, cultural genocide, and marginalization of indigenous people in Hawai‘i. I seek to trace the ways that state policy contributes to the erasure and displacement of Kanaka Maoli, and other indigenous populations around the globe. I hope my research and eventually teaching will contribute to more comparative research that seeks to link particular struggles to larger questions of colonization, imperialism, and transnationalism.

Research Interests: Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) Sovereignty, Comparative Indigenous Studies, Pacific Islander Studies, Settler-Colonialism, Indigenous Education.

   
Alex Villalpando
Alex Villalpando

B.A. in History with minors in Political Science and Sociology from the University of California, San Diego.

M.A. in Latin American Studies from California State University, Los Angeles.

My work analyzes the trajectories of colonialism, genocide, and displacement throughout Central America in order to situate the many obstacles Central American migrants face throughout Mexico within a longer and ever evolving genealogy of violence. Furthermore, I wish to connect both the U.S. and Mexican states with the active destruction of Central American migrants. I wish to center Central American migrants’ experiences to reflect how the collusion between the U.S. and the Mexican state perpetuates the rendering of particular lives as expendable. In addition, I wish to understand how migration experiences of Central Americans in Mexico affect intra-ethnic relations with Mexicans in Los Angeles. 

Research Interests: Racist State Violence, Neoliberalism, Los Angeles Studies and Central American Studies.

   
Eva Nicole Vines
Nicole Vines

B.A., 2008, African American Studies (Magna Cum Laude) University of California, Riverside

From an interdisciplinary perspective, examines the ways in which oppressive social structures shaped the experience of Africans in the Unites States. Focuses on the indeterminacy of race and the historical, cultural, and social forms of resistance from people of African decent. 

Research interests: African American Diaspora, U.S. Slavery/Reconstruction, The African American Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968), nineteenth and twentieth-century African American Literature.