I am a qualitative social scientist who works at the intersection of geography and critical ethnic studies, especially Chicanx Studies. Recently I moved from USC to the University of Oregon. My interest in these fields began as a young child fascinated by maps, landscapes, nature, and places. At the same time, everyday life taught me that we live in a racial, class and gender hierarchy that shapes our lives. Through my research and teaching I explore how these processes shape places and how places inform racial and economic processes.
I have spent significant time studying how activists create meaningful social and environmental change. My interest in political activism goes back to when I was a child and first learned about Harriett Tubman and the Underground Railroad. My inability to understand her courage and actions led me to study how people become activists, their visions for changing the world, how they created change, and the obstacles they encounter. The fact that the first person I ever admired was a Black woman is also meaningful. Although my work is anchored by the study of ethnic-Mexicans, I knew that I could never draw too tight a boundary around them. Consequently, I have written a good deal about comparative and relational ethnic studies.
Some people don’t see the connection between activism and geography. But if you think about it, activism is a particular way of producing a place. While most geographers emphasize how capital and the state create places, I have focused on the struggles of working-class people of color, especially in terms of environmental justice, radical politics, labor, and questions of racial identity and subjectivity. Increasingly, however, I am drawn to studying the structures and processes that produce racism, pollution and violence in the first place, as well as how we try to obscure the truth.
We live in a time of profound racial, economic, and environmental change. I invite you to peruse my site, download my articles, essays and book chapters, and follow my blog. Given the momentous nature of the Trump presidency, I will be blogging regularly as I try to apply the concepts and tools of ethnic studies and geography to explain the evolving political landscape.
Over the last few years my scholarly interest has shifted from a focus on activism towards domination. I felt the need to better grasp the roles of the state and capitalism in shaping oppositional activism. Currently, I am also interested in landscape, comparative and relational ethnic studies, environmental justice, alternative tourism, and popular education. Below is a partial list of projects and topics that I am currently involved in.