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

Iris Blake is a Ph.D. candidate in ethnic studies at the University of California, Riverside. Her dissertation uses archival methods and performance studies methodologies to examine how ideas about voice and the senses have regulated the racialized, gendered, and sexualized limits between the human and the nonhuman. Her work analyzes how technologies of voice and sound were used in 19th-century scientific, medical, and pedagogical literature on the vocal apparatus to produce and universalize a colonial definition of voice as human and sonic only. She traces alternative genealogies of voicing through Rebecca Belmore’s iterative performance and installation works, and Christine Sun Kim’s multimedia sound art. Her dissertation proposes a decolonial practice of listening that is capable of registering voice as vibrational, multisensorial, and not exclusively human.

Research Interests: performance studies, sound studies, critical race and ethnic studies, voice studies, feminist and queer theories, critical memory studies, sensory studies, archival research, cultural analysis, digital media, science and technology studies

Eliana Buenrostro

B.A. Chicana/o Studies and Gender Studies
University of California, Los Angeles
M.A. Latin American and Latino Studies
University of Illinois at Chicago

Eliana Buenrostro is a doctoral student in the Ethnic Studies program at the University of California, Riverside. She received her M.A. in Latin American and Latino Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2020. Her M.A. paper entitled “Destined to Fuck Up: Los Illegals, Chicano Punk and the Immigration Politics and Art of 1980s Los Angeles” uses oral history to recount the activist cultural production of the Chicano punk band Los Illegals, during a period of mass deportations in the United States. Her current research continues to explore the relationship between punk music and immigration.

Research Interests: punk music, alternative subcultures, youth subcultures, immigration, state violence, oral history

Guadalupe Arellanes Castro

B.A. Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
California State University, Long Beach
M.A. Latin American Studies, Certificate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
California State University, Los Angeles

Guadalupe Arellanes Castro is a first-generation college graduate pursuing a Ph.D. in ethnic studies at the University of California, Riverside. She earned a master’s degree in Latin American studies, along with a post-baccalaureate certificate in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies from California State University, Los Angeles. Her master’s thesis titled “Dark Skinned and Disposable: Feminicide and Expressive Death for a Neoliberal Mexico” utilizes an intersectional feminist lens to address the role of ethnoracism, neoliberalism, and misogyny in the murders of women in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua.

Guadalupe’s current research uses decolonial methods of platicas and testimonios in order to demonstrate how gender, sexuality, race, and class intersect in the formation of a pre- and post-migration life. Through the stories of immigrant sexual assault survivors, she documents the ways that cis and trans women negotiate challenges pertaining to body reclamation, mental health access, and legal advocacy in opposition to biopower.

Romina Garcia

Romina Garcia

B.A. Cultural Studies
Columbia College Chicago

Romina Garcia is a third-year doctoral student in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Riverside. As a cultural studies major at Columbia College Chicago, Romina’s senior capstone thesis investigated the intersection of ethnic identity, gentrification, and commodified urban culture. Entitled “From Identity to Commodity: Dialectics and Impacts of the Neoliberal (De)-Valorization of a Gentrifying Chicago Community,” Romina 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. As a doctoral student, Romina is primarily focused on examining the structural and administrative violence that encompasses women of color, in particular, Black women.  Engaging law and literature, Black feminist studies, and gender antiviolence, Romina aims to understand gendered/racialized constructed subjectivity, community, advocacy, and a possible beyond.

Research Interests: Black feminist studies, law and literature, gender studies, critical race theory, surveillance studies, gender violence, sexuality, and reproductive politics

Sneha George

Sneha George

Sneha George is a Ph.D. candidate in ethnic studies at the University of California Riverside. She received an M.A. in international relations at The New School, New York, and a B.A. in women’s studies and world history at the State University of New York in Albany.

Sneha is currently a feminist and queer of color theorist who’s dissertation work is on South Asian Studies critique, and other worldly possibilities through communal and relational self-reflexivity as praxis and being.

Research Interests: women of color, de-colonial and transnational feminist theories, queer theory of color, non-Western theory and philosophies, South Asian studies

Working bibliography by topics.

carlos j. gómez

B.A., Comparative Ethnic Studies and Sociology
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, 2019

carlos is a doctoral student in the department of ethnic studies. Their research is concerned with racial-colonial architecture and the performance of hygiene. They are interested in the ways un/hygienic spaces emerged historically and continue as biopolitical technologies of racial-colonial regulation.

research interests: feminist science and technology studies, critical infrastructure studies, trans and queer of color critiques, Black and Indigenous feminism, performance studies, and crip theory

Morayma Flores-Higinio

B.A. Human Development
California State University, San Marcos

Morayma Ybeet Flores-Higinio is a Chicana Ph.D. student in the Ethnic Studies department at the University of California, Riverside. She was born in Fallbrook, California and comes from a first-generation college going familia. In her hometown, she was involved with a grassroots community organization and coordinated popular education and youth empowerment programs; providing a space for at promise youth to build community and learn their Chicano history.

From the onset of her undergraduate career, her goal was to obtain a degree that would allow her to bring resources to her community. Her interests were in exploring culture, mental-health, and community-based programs. She earned her B.A. in human development, from California State University of San Marcos (CSUSM), an interdisciplinary program that borrows from psychology, anthropology, biology, and sociology, and obtained a minor in psychology as well.

While at CSUSM, she collaborated in conducting quantitative research, on mindfulness-based practices and Eastern meditation and its effects on boosting mental well-being. The findings suggested that college students with a mindfulness regimene possess an overall stronger cognitive well-being.

In addition, she also performed qualitative ethnographic field research, at a MAAC Project Head Start, where she conducted semi-structured interviews with director and program staff, to measure program effectiveness. After witnessing her community’s resilience, her interdisciplinary research training coupled with her community activism led her to the idea of exploring well-being within her Latino community.

Fascinated with ancient healing practices, she began to wonder about the long-standing indigenous healing traditions rooted in her Mesoamerican ancestry, Curanderismo. In these postcolonial times, she believes it is important to consider the ways in which colonized people maintain their strength, persistence, and embody spiritual resistance. Intrigued by how Curanderismo has managed to survive, evolve, and transcended transnationally she will specifically explore how the transmission of knowledge emanates from healer (Curandera/o) to patient in our modern context. In examining this alternative pre-colonial healing practice, she hopes to understand why some individuals continue to seek out this type of healing, contributing to the important Mesoamerican indigenous healing discourse on Curanderismo.

Research Interests: Indigenous epistemologies, Curanderismo, transnational identities, alternative healing practices, knowledge production, Indigenous feminisms, spiritual activism, shamanism, Chicana/o studies, decolonizing methodologies

Beth Kopacz

B.A. Earth Systems, Environment, and Society
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
M.A. Asian American Studies
University of California, Los Angeles

Beth Kopacz is a Ph.D. candidate in the ethnic studies department. Her dissertation project examines the relationship among popular genetic science, transnational and transracial Korean adoption, and the structures informing kinship, identity, memory, narrative, and loss. In particular, she explores the overlapping and contradictory knowledge projects that establish both meaning and limitation in Korean adoption narrative. This includes an analysis of state archives, digital communities, and the emergence of the “DNA cousin” relationship, a creative expansion and expression of kinship.

Research Interests: critical Asian American studies, critical race and ethnic studies, transnational and transracial adoption, feminist science and technology studies, kinship, new media

Lawrence Lan

Lawrence Lan

Lawrence Lan is a Ph.D. student in the ethnic studies department at the University of California, Riverside.

His research interests include racial capitalism, human geography, and left/progressive labor and community organizing in southern California.

Michael Madrigal

B.A., Social Relations, University of California, Riverside

Michael is a member of the Cahuilla Band of Indians from the Cahuilla Indian Reservation located near Anza, California. He grew up on the Soboba Indian Reservation and works there as an administrator and lay minister. He has been active in efforts to strengthen tribal culture and spiritual traditions for most of his life. Growing up at a time of cultural revitalization in the tribal community, he was gifted to learn tribal traditions and Cahuilla Bird Songs from elders, including Robert Levi, Alvino Siva, Anthony Andreas, Lloyd Marcus, and Katherine Saubel. He participates in efforts to preserve landscapes sacred to tribal communities through the work of the Native American Land Conservancy, where he serves as the current board president. Presently, motivated by his experience working in local tribal communities, he has entered the ethnic studies graduate program to increase his academic research skills in order to more effectively carry out the goals of sustaining and revitalizing traditional ties of indigenous communities to the land. He is aware that as indigenous communities, our strength comes from the land.

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, ethnomusicology, 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 graduate work will include deconstructing 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 sociopolitical identity of the region, are also being studied.

C 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 Perez is a first-generation Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Riverside. Her dissertation titled, “Freedom is a Place: Abolitionist Possibilities in Migrant Women’s Refusals,” draws from border/immigration studies, critical carceral studies, and feminist theory to examine how migrant women refuse and resist the historical, discursive, and epistemic erasure of gendered violence in ICE immigrant detention centers. Her dissertation is focused on Adelanto ICE Detention Center, where she also organizes and volunteers to support migrants fighting their asylum cases. Cinthya employs an archival and ethnographic analysis to resituate detained migrant women’s writings as anti-carceral and feminist abolitionist praxes that counter the state’s diligent efforts to conceal gendered violence from the historical record. Through a critical reading of migrant women’s hunger strike demands and personal correspondences, she locates migrant women as authors of abolitionist praxis.

Research Interests: immigration and border studies, critical carceral studies, feminist theory & feminist geographies, abolition theory

Jennifer Martinez

Jennifer Martinez is a first-generation Ph.D. student at the University of California, Riverside. During her undergraduate career as a double major in Chicana/o Studies and Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Jennifer’s research entitled “Tales of Legal Orphanood: Case Studies of Citizen Children with Deported Parents” focused on the lived experiences of youth dealing with the deportation of a family member. Jennifer is interested in understanding the relationships between deportation inflicted violence, temporalities of death, deportation dependent identity formations, and the overall deportee condition.

Research Interests: identity politics, immigration, migration, repatriation, transnational identity reformation, nationalism, memory studies, death studies, affect theory, felt theory

Beyaja Notah

Beyaja Notah is a proud member of the Diné Nation (Navajo). She is a member Tábąąhá (Edge of the Water) and Tódích’íi’nii (Bitterwater) clan on her father’s side. On her mother’s side, Beyaja is Cherokee & Lakota. Beyaja grew up in West Highland Avenue area of San Bernardino and attended San Bernardino city schools. She received her B.A. in Native American Studies from the University of California, Riverside in 2010 and a teaching credential from the University of Redlands and Claremont Graduate School in 2012 and 2016, respectively. Beyaja has worked in the Southern California Native American community as a cultural program assistant, a tutor, K-12 teacher, and program coordinator. Currently, Beyaja is pursuing her Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies.

Research interests: traditional ecological knowledge, indigenous education, and decolonial methodologies

Julio Orellana

Julio Orellana

M.A., Political Science, California State University, Northridge
Single-Subject Teaching Credential (Social Science), California State University, Los Angeles
B.A. Ethnic Studies, Humboldt State University

Julio Orellana is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Ethnic Studies at UC Riverside.

Research Interests: Latinx studies; Central American studies; the state and civil society; Latino politics; political economy; immigration/migration

Carol K. Park

B.A., English
M.F.A, Creative Writing & Writing for the Performing Arts, Fiction/Non-Fiction
University of California Riverside 

Carol K. Park is a first-generation college graduate and a first-year student in the ethnic studies Ph.D. program at UC Riverside. From 2010-2020, Park was a research assistant at the Young Oak Kim Center for Korean American Studies at UCR under the guidance of its director, Dr. Edward T. Chang.

At the Center, Park studied Korean and Asian American history, social and political issues, race relations, and more. She worked on and completed several projects: two documentary films; a Korean American Oral Histories record; assisted in the designation of Pachappa Camp – the first Koreatown USA – as Riverside’s first Point of Cultural Interest; edited and worked on articles, books, and more. In 2014, she was part of a team that received a $135,000 Academy of Koreans Studies Grant. Park is also the author of Memoir of a Cashier: Korean Americans, Racism, and Riots, and co-author of Korean Americans: A Concise History.

Park’s preliminary dissertation research involves looking at Korean diaspora in the U.S. during the early 20th century, examining nationalism/transnationalism, imperialism, geopolitical, educational, and socioeconomic issues, and how Asian immigrant identities were constructed.

Prior to pursuing an academic life, Park was an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in various newspapers, magazines, and journals. As a hobby, Park practices karate and is a licensed USA National Karate referee. She is also the proud mother of her dog Gamja (Potato in Korean).

Research Interests: Korean and Asian American identities, race relations, diaspora, critical race theory, civil unrest, nationalism, transnationalism, colonialism, imperialism, and decolonization.

Frank Perez

Frank Perez

B.A. Sociology: Law and Society, California State University, Los Angeles
M.A. Sociology, California State University, Fullerton
M.A. Ethnic Studies, University of California, Riverside 

Frank is a Ph.D. Candidate in ethnic studies. His research examines the qualitative experiences and academic outcomes of Students of Color who complete ethnic studies high school courses. His dissertation “Why We Need Ethnic Studies IE: Education Justice History, Reform, and Practices to Better Serve Students of Color” documents the rise of the ethnic studies for all movement and how these courses benefits the growing student of color population in the Inland Empire — the most diverse area of California. His research focuses on sociology of education, critical race theory, and qualitative methods/methodologies.

Frank’s previous research has been published in the Journal of Latinos and Education. His article “Exposure/Formation: A process for developing transformative education frameworks and critical consciousness in higher education” (2019)  is retrievable here.

Justin Phan

Justin Quang Nguyên Phan

B.A. Women and Gender Studies, Asian American Studies, and Sociology
University of California, Davis
M.A. Southeast Asian Studies, M.A. Ethnic Studies
University of California, Riverside 

Justin Quang Nguyên Phan is a Ph.D. Candidate in ethnic studies. His dissertation, tentatively entitled “Matrix of Intimacies: On French Colonial and Cold War Ruins in Contemporary Vietnamese Visual Culture,” is an exploration of contemporary Vietnamese and Vietnamese diasporic cultural productions. Employing visual and performance analysis, oral history, and archival research, it examines how contemporary Vietnamese artists, filmmakers, and authors are re-articulating the cultural, political, and economic legacies of de/colonization and war in Vietnam and among the Vietnamese diaspora in order to construct critical geographies of conquest and militarized displacement.

Research Interests: Southeast Asian/American studies, feminist theories and epistemologies, Vietnam, diaspora, decolonization, colonial and empire formations, visual and material culture, militarism, transnational feminisms, critical race and ethnic studies, refugee studies

Ramon Pineda

B.A. Anthropology, San José State University
M.A. Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies, California State University, Los Angeles 

Pronouns: He/Him/His
Instagram: raypineda83
Twitter: @ray_pineda

Ramon Pineda Jr. is father to Citlali Itzel, an inquisitive and rebellious toddler. He is a xicano from the San Gabriel Valley, a first-generation college graduate, and McNair Scholar. Ramon completed a master’s degree in Chicanx/Latinx studies at California State University, Los Angeles. His research interests are situated at the intersections of Chicanx feminists epistemologies, third-world feminisms, Latinx geographies, cultural and spatial production, and artivisms.

His M.A. thesis: “CumbiaLAndia: digital ephemera, borderlands sounds and the dissonant DJs queering LAs Cumbia scene” highlights undocumented queer Latinx DJs who confront and denounce heteromasculinity, patriarchy, nationalism and racism cultural and spatial production.

J Sebastian

B.A., English and Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder
J.D., City University of New York, School of Law

J’s research engages the intersections of systemic power relations, colonialism, and rights. Their dissertation project centers on the ways that the logics of civility, crisis, and the carceral mediate shifts into new iterations of colonialism within modernity through a shift in rights-based discourses. This work engages Native feminist critiques of heteropatriarchy, Black feminist theories of the human, and critical rights discourses to show how securing rights-based redress is ultimately limited for queer and trans communities because it does not stop the logics perpetuating state violence under colonial-modernity. Their contribution to the journal Abolition: A Journal of Insurgent Politics can be found here: “Already Something More: Heteropatriarchy and the Limitations of Rights, Inclusion, and the Universal.”

Research Interests: critical race and ethnic studies, queer studies, gender studies, trans studies, Native feminist studies, disability studies, legal history, critical human rights, anticolonial histories and movements, critical rights discourses

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. candidate in the Ethnic Studies Department at the University of California, Riverside. Stephens completed a master’s degree in Afro-American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles where he specialized in Afro-American literature. His master’s thesis, “Real Blackness is Played Out: Blackness and the Politics of Performance” argued that black cultural workers can make creative and sardonic use of anti-black visual iconography to critique both anti-black racism and the black politics of respectability via a strategy called racial camp. Camp is a queer derived cultural practice that uses humor, pastiche, mimicry, and double coding to question the stability of gender categories through performance. In his dissertation, Stephens argues that camp has also been used by black cultural workers to question the stability of interlocking identity categories, especially race and gender, through a strategy that addresses the specificity of black cultural labor in challenging essentialism and the black politics of respectability. Accordingly, Stephens makes the claim that the work of controversial and “humorous” visual artists Kara Walker and Glenn Ligon are strong examples of this political strategy of refusal.

Forthcoming article to be published in Open Cultural Studies: “Prissy’s Quittin’ Time: the camp aesthetics of Kara Walker”

Academic Interests: black visual culture, black literature, black intellectual history, black face minstrelsy, queer theory, feminist theory, performance studies, popular culture

Takahito Tanaka

M.A. Sociology
California State University, Fullerton
B.S. Sociology
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)

Takahito (Taka) Tanaka is a Ph.D. student in the Ethnic Studies Department at the University of California, Riverside. He earned his B.S. in sociology from Virginia Tech with concentrations in social inequality and crime/deviance. Taka returned to the academy following a twelve-year hiatus where he earned his M.A. in sociology from California State University, Fullerton.

For his thesis, Taka conducted an ethnographic case study on the intergenerational and intercultural relationships between the Japanese American and Muslim American grassroots social movement groups in Los Angeles titled “The Oppositional Solidarity Against the Muslim Ban.”
Taka’s current research projects involve the Harada House where he is currently assisting in the historical preservation process with the Harada House Foundation and the Museum of Riverside. He is also exploring multiple theoretical vantage points that will elucidate how the Harada House is an intersectional project that transcends individual national identity.

Research Interests: Asian American studies, citizenship, critical ethnic studies cultural genocide, decolonization, Harada House, indigenous research methods, intersectionality, Japanese American incarceration, oral history, racialization, state violence, social movements, transnationalism

Luis Trujillo

Luis Trujillo

M.A. Ethnic Studies
University of California, Riverside
B.A. Black Studies with Honors
University of California, Santa Barbara
B.A. Chicanx Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara

Luis Trujillo is a Ph.D. candidate in the Ethnic Studies Department at the University of California, Riverside. He graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2012 with a B.A. in Black Studies and Chicanx Studies. While in Santa Barbara, he built his expertise in 20th century race history and theories of racial capitalism as conceptualized and carried forward by faculty such as Cedric Robinson, Gaye Theresa Johnson, Otis Madison, Clyde Woods and George Lipsitz. His current research examines the activism/artistic productions of anti-displacement organizers in Northeast Los Angeles. As a member of the anti-displacement collective known as the Northeast Los Angeles Alliance, he was been witness to and active participant in the larger struggle for housing justice in Los Angeles and California broadly. His work builds on the key insights of housing justice researchers, critical ethnic studies, and critical geography scholars to place understandings of urban political economies within the continued territorial and extractivist projects of American colonization. His contribution to this body of work reveals the ways Latinx space is constructed relationally to black and indigenous geographies in the city and how Latinx subjectivities are cohered through anti-black and de-indigenizing logics of empire.

Research Interests: Latin American/Latinx studies, Chicanx/ Mexican-American studies, Black studies, Native studies, critical ethnic studies, urban studies, critical geography and housing justice

MT Vallarta

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

MT Vallarta is a poet and Ph.D. candidate in the Ethnic Studies Department at the University of California, Riverside. Their research is an examination of queer futurities in contemporary Filipinx poetry, where they investigate the ways figuration, language, form, and other aesthetic elements of poems provide critiques of the (hetero)normative and imagine the otherwise for queer, trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people of color. They examine mixed-media and experimental poets and artists who push the boundaries of our sensory and affective experiences while challenging the demarcations of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability, such as Mark Aguhar, Kay Ulanday Barrett, and Karen Villa. A Kundiman Fellow, MT’s poetry has been published in Rabbit Catastrophe Review, Nat. Brut, Apogee Journal, TAYO Literary Magazine, and others. They are also a recipient of a Visiting University-based Scholar Fellowship from the Chair in Transgender Studies at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.

Research Interests: Asian American studies, cultural studies, digital humanities, feminist and queer theory, Filipina/o/x studies, poetry and poetics