Benjamin Abbott

Benjamin is a PhD student, practicing anarchist revolutionary on the streets, science fiction author, and genderqueer transhumanist visionary. Eir interest in radical politics and the humanities began with reading Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States as a teenager. Ey majored in Creative Writing and History with a minor in Zoology at North Carolina State University. Learning about the Plan de San Diego uprising and working Richard Slatta convinced em to purpose an MA in History here at the University of New Mexico. In that department, Benjamin developed a focus on the international anarchist movement in the era of Mexican Revolution. Ey joined American Studies on the advice of friends and professors. Eir current research looks at narratives of gender and sexuality across the Partido Liberal Mexicano and U.S. anarchist-feminist scene. Other interests include socialist-feminist Shulamith Firestone’s thought, technology politics, queer theory, postcolonialism, and so on – anything that fosters liberation. Ey simultaneously critiques and contributes to the transhumanist movement at eir blog Queering the Singularity. Contact Benjamin at benjamin.abbott@gmail.com

Tiffany Berger

Hello! My name is Tita Berger. I study place in conjunction with cultural landscape studies, critical regionalism, place memory, and the historic built environment. My teaching and research fields in the department are environment, science and technology studies and the southwest. I am also a student in the Historic Preservation and Regionalism graduate certificate program in the School of Architecture and Planning. My dissertation, in progress, is an historic and ethnographic place study on Truth or Consequences, New Mexico that explores modern place making. I also grow flowers and have a pretty new baby. Please email me at tberger@unm.edu if you think any of this might help you figure out your own happy life in some small way or is merely interesting.

Desi Brown

Desi Brown is a second year MA Student in the American Studies Program. He came here via a long and winding road, being raised in the Midwest (Iowa and Illinois), temporarily detained by his parents in Las Vegas, NV and exploring many personal, professional, and educational pursuits since then. He holds the record (until someone tells him differently!) of taking 22 years to complete his associates degree (CNM) and B.U.S. (UNM). During that time, he competed internationally as a semi-pro bicycle racer for a decade, had a career as an exhibit designer, was a part-time instructor at CNM Community College and started a non-profit swing dancing group that has been together for over 10 years now. In addition, Desi has been involved as a community and political activist for several years promoting many different issues such as voter rights, health care, peace studies and curriculum development. Desi has returned to the academic world in order to develop the skills necessary to make a difference with the economically and socially disadvantaged members of his community. His intent is to use cutting edge educational tools to introduce students to the critical thinking skills that are necessary to understand current events in our culture. In doing this, he hopes to see people feel empowered to change their own lives, and those of their peers, in personal, relational and community building ways. Desi continues to be involved with NM State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino as a volunteer policy analyst and is the graduate student representative of the UNM Peace Studies Program. He is also serving as a GA to David Correia for AS182 - Intro to Science, Environment, & Technology and spends much of his time correcting the papers of his students. Contact info: Desi can be reached via e-mail at: desib@unm.edu if you want to talk to him about his interests or if you want to learn how to Jitterbug or go on a scooter ride!

Christopher Chavez

Christopher is from Santo Domingo Pueblo, and he received his Bachelor in University Studies from UNM in 2006. His focus during his undergraduate studies was on Anthropology and Native American history. Going forward, he is particularly interested in looking at how the American legal system interacts with and relates to current Native American issues.

Miles Cleaver

Miles Cleaver graduated with a Bachelor of University Studies degree from UNM, and is a first year graduate student in American Studies. He was raised in Northern New Mexico, but has both lived in and travelled through Mexico and Central America extensively since childhood. Miles has pursued many varied interests, obsessions, and curiosities over the years—academic and personal—and, as a result, is unable to imagine himself pursuing a singular specialized occupation in life; interdisciplinary studies thus holds a natural appeal for him. As a graduate student, he is interested in exploring American countercultures that are characterized by the significant inclusion and adoption of non-Western religious traditions, resulting in the emergence of complex and varied cultural discourses, identities, and practices—particularly in the Southwest. In his “free” time, he can be found drinking excessive amounts of caffeine, reading, snowboarding, and sometimes sleeping.

Teresa Cutler-Broyles (Terry)

I have a BA in English/Creative Writing/Cultural Anthropology and an MA in Comp Lit and Cultural Studies. After nine years of an accidental career in Technical Writing and Editing, and flirting with the idea of a PhD in Political Science, I discovered the American Studies program and jumped in. My three main fields of study are American Orientalism, Film Studies and Performance Studies, and through them I study representations of other in film and media, with a focus on the Middle East, terrorism, and the world since September 11, 2001. I’m a politics junkie. My goal is to teach and write about the vital connections between America and the Middle East, as well as continue to run my cultural writing workshops (info below).

I teach film studies in the Media Arts Department here at UNM, creative writing in the community and online through Story Circle Network. I will be teaching classes for UNM Continuing Education starting in the spring of 2012. I’m a published author (local, regional, national and international magazines, online and a small book of travel essays) and own a small business, InkWell International LLC. Through InkWell I do writing and editing of fiction, non-fiction and screenplays, and I organize cultural writing tours to Italy and Turkey, as well as local writers’ conferences and screenwriting conferences. My guilty secret is that I’ve spent many thousands of dollars on Amazon.com buying books.

I can be reached at teresa_cutler@comcas.net or at my website www.inkwell-inc.biz

Clare Daniel

Clare Daniel is a PhD candidate in American Studies. She received her MA in American Studies from the University of New Mexico in 2008. Her research interests include citizenship studies, race theory, and the welfare state. She is currently working on a dissertation on popular depictions of teenage pregnancy in relation to contemporary biopolitics and constructions of citizenship.

Donatella Davanzo

Donatella’s anthropological works focuse on the connection between community and territory. In order to complete her academic studies in Italy, in Philosophy and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Trieste and Venice, she explored the Southwest area to investigate the use of space by the Native American communities. Considering photography as an active ethnographic tool, she used the visual methodology and the applied research to document the patterns of villages, rock art and ceremonies by Hopi, Pueblo and Navajo. She has also taken part in Italian projects dedicated to the collection of stories about the ancient Venetian crafts as the lace, the glass and the fishing, tango dancers, and to the study of the clown-doctors in the hospitals: in these cases her pictures, going along with the interviews, become expression of social aspects. Besides the many exhibitions in Italy and abroad, her photographic works have also been published in essays, articles, artistic monographs, and in her first book “Tango in Venice” (2011). In the meantime, she has continued to study in the Southwest area participating in fieldwork at UNM about the traditional water management: the acequia. This historic technique has become her current research interest, in particular as practice that represents a persistent expression of cultural identity in New Mexico. In her goals, she intends give particular attention on recording the significant changes from traditional irrigation technique to urban land uses, and explores the opportunities offered by the American Studies Department to increase her previous academic studies.

Gina Díaz

Gina Díaz began the Ph.D. program in American Studies at the University of New Mexico (UNM) in 2009 while she was working as the senior art curator at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. She earned her M.A. in Museum Studies at John F. Kennedy University (Berkeley, CA) in 2005 and her B.A. in American Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2000 where she had transferred from Sacramento City College. Her primary areas of research interest are postcolonial queer studies; cultural studies; and women of color and indigenous feminist theories and activism.

A Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow, Gina has taught Raza Genders and Sexualities and Introduction to Popular Culture at UNM. She also recently developed two upper-division courses: Chicana Feminisms and Latino Museum Studies.

At UNM Gina serves as the co-chair of the American Studies Graduate Student Association; is active in the Chicano, Hispano, Mexicano Studies Advisory Committee; and helps coordinate Women of Color in Academia. Her recent community work includes curating the Southwest Gay and Lesbian Film Festival Women of Color Shorts Program and volunteering with Young Women United and Weaving Ourselves Whole, two Albuquerque-based feminist of color groups.

You may contact Gina by email: ginadiaz@unm.edu

Aurore Diehl

Aurore Diehl is a graduate of UNM’s American Studies BA program and a second year MA student. Her research focus is on the use of popular music as a lens through which to view issues of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and class, with a special focus on issues of gender in hard rock and heavy metal music. She gave a presentation based on her senior thesis, “The Leather Rebels: Gender, Sexuality, and Power,” at the Southwest Texas Popular Culture and American Culture Association’s conference in February, 2010. She is working on a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies and is in her second year as the Thomas L. Popejoy Fellow at the Center for Southwest Research. As the Popejoy Fellow, she is responsible for posting images and documents from the UNM Archives to New Mexico’s Digital Collections and giving a presentation in the spring based on her work in the archive. Her presentation at the 2011 Center for Regional Studies Colloquium held at Zimmerman Library was entitled “Carousal of Color: Comparing Set Designs for Two Productions of Liliom by UNM’s Department of Drama.”


Laura Elliff

Laura is originally from Oklahoma but considers her ‘home’ to be central Illinois where she primarily grew up. She completed her undergraduate degree in Anthropology from Illinois State University and was an Americorps VISTA volunteer in Mexican Hat, Utah living on the Navajo reservation assisting with an oral language program for 12 months. She completed a graduate certificate (distant education) at The George Washington University in Museum Collections Management and Care in 2007. She has worked in the museum field since 2004 and currently works in Santa Fe at the School for Advanced Research, Indian Arts Research Center as a Collections Manager. Prior to moving to New Mexico for her museum profession, she worked in Durango, Colorado at the Center of Southwest Studies at Fort Lewis College.

Laura’s overall research interests include issues in popular culture, race theory, class, and problems with creating and changing history. Her primary interests are looking at the intersectionality and discourse between Native communities and museums. She is interested in analyzing shifts from the past, present and where things could be heading in the future. She is currently looking at a case study in Chicago, Illinois.

Laura also loves to cook, hike, camp, or backpack if she has time! She and her boyfriend Patrick live in Los Alamos and enjoy walking and hiking with their two dogs Bailey and Jameson.

Jessica Fishken-Harkins

Jessica Fishken-Harkins completed her undergraduate degree at Macalester College in Minnesota with majors in Anthropology and International Studies. She is currently working on her doctorate degree in American Studies along with a graduate certificate in Women Studies. Her research interests include postcolonial theory, queer and feminist theory, U.S. empire, native/indigenous studies, and neoliberalism. Thus far, Jessica has written on topics including sexuality-based asylum, U.S. neocolonialism and the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” in Uganda, and same-sex marriage bans in native nations. Her dissertation plans to examine how the U.S. has used and continues to employ heteronormativity as a tool of colonialism. Jessica has also taught Introduction to Gender Studies, and assisted in a class on the politics of sex.


Tania García

Tania García holds a BA in English (Philosophy minor) from UNM and is currently in her second year of the UNM American Studies MA Program.  Areas of study that interest her include Transnational American Studies, Visual Culture (Film Studies) and Popular Culture, World Cinema, Black Transnationalism, Jewish and African Diaspora Studies, Genocide Studies, Native Hawaiian Literature, and American Jewish Literature.


While in American Studies at UNM, Tania has researched and written on comparative and cross-cultural topics such as Spanish National Cinema in a transnational context, Chicano, Native American, Asian American, and Native Hawaiian artistic expression as active resistance to U.S. imperialism and colonialism, and Maori film and literature from a trans-indigenous perspective.  In connection with Tania’s interest in exploring her Hispano heritage and Sephardic Jewish ancestry, she is researching the history of Crypto-Jews in New Mexico and southern Colorado as a dimension of Southwest Studies.


While taking a course taught by Distinguished Professor of American Studies Gerald Vizenor entitled “Narratives of Atrocity and Genocide,” Tania learned about the complex relationship between the U.S. government and genocide while studying the narrative conventions utilized by Holocaust survivors to reconstruct their experiences for readers.  She thereby developed an interest in researching the experiences, stories, and visual memory of child survivors of internment camps in Paris and in Nazi concentration camps across Europe. In Summer 2012, Tania conducted research in Paris at Mémorial de la Shoah in Le Marais for her MA Thesis.  The subject of her MA Thesis will expand her work in Holocaust Studies within American Studies by examining the reception of popular Holocaust narratives and feature films by American audiences within a transnational context. 

Dina Gilio-Whitaker

I came to the American Studies MA program after completing my BA in Native American Studies with a minor in Political Science at UNM. When I first got there, I had also been a single mom who returned to school later in life, not obtaining my BA until age 50. Born and raised in Los Angeles (but with roots on the Colville reservation in Washington State), I moved to the San Francisco bay area where I lived for 2 decades and got involved in political activism for Native causes. I bring a Native American perspective to my research in American Studies in the effort to further expand the concept of coloniality (in Mignolo's terms) in America, bridging the gap that exists between American Studies and Native American Studies. Working from an indigenous epistemology, I am interested in the nature of indigenous transnationality and how this discourse can contribute to a global paradigm shift that leads to greater justice and autonomy for indigenous peoples. Such a reimagining in my research encompasses environmental justice, and this is the realm my thesis delves into. It explores the idea that Native American sacred site protection is an environmental justice issue. While I was a grad student in the department, I had a life changing experience that resulted in my getting married and moving to California to be with my husband – a tough thing to happen right in the middle of grad school. I receive a lot of support from the wonderful faculty that helped me finish the program. dgilio@unm.edu

Amy Goodin

I was a double major in Geography and Political Science for my BA (UNM), and then received my MA in Geography (UNM) with an emphasis on human-environment interactions. After spending several years in my own a little world as the Associate Director of Research at the UNM Institute for Public Policy I entered into the American Studies Ph.D. program and continue to slog through my dissertation. This is despite being crazy enough to accept a position as Director of the University of Oklahoma Public Opinion Learning Laboratory at the same time--it is a public opinion research organization that pesters various 'publics' about their opinions on a plethora of policy issues. However, my real interest is how the public feels engaged in and by the policy process. My dissertation examines this issue from the perspective of understanding Western Shoshone engagement in and by the Yucca Mountain High-level Nuclear Waste Repository policy debate. In my spare time I have taken to running half marathons and coach soccer for my two youngest daughters while also serving as their Girl Scout leader…at times, the latter two activities make me feel like I am herding cats. I have also had the opportunity to dodge several tornados that have ventured down my street of through my backyard.

Contact info: amysgoodin@ou.edu or asgoodin@unm.edu

Lara Hayner

Lara Hayner is an MA student in the American Studies department. She was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and received her BA in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley in 2008. Before entering the Master’s program, Lara worked for two years for a program in which college students assist in English as a Second Language, Literacy, and Citizenship classes in the San Francisco community. Her academic work focuses on matters of race and ethnicity, and she has strong research interests in immigration/migration, as well as in the social and political experiences of Chican@s/Mexican@s in California. After receiving her M.A. degree, Lara would like to continue doing applied community work for U.S. immigrants and for communities of color as a whole.

David Holtkamp

I am a current MA student in American Studies. Since receiving my Bachelor’s in Anthropology and Religious Studies from UNM in 2007, I have been working in Cultural Resource Management Archaeology for the University of New Mexico as well as for the National Park Service. My interest in American Studies came as a result of my interest in the Spanish Colonial period of the Southwest. Currently, my focus involves Colonization and Southwest Studies. In particular I want to observe how Spanish colonial sites, particularly mission sites, are interpreted by archaeologists and historians through post-colonialist approaches. I am also an avid musician, love the outdoors, and my wife and I are expecting our first born baby in November/2011.

Jordon Johnson

B.A in Performance Art from St. Olaf College; M.A. in Social and Cultural Anthropology from California Institute of Integral Studies; M.S.W. from New Mexico Highlands University, School of Social Work. Jordon is a doctoral student focused on transgender interactions with healthcare systems in New Mexico. His research looks at how medical and behavioral health systems engage with a transgender community. His research interests explore processes of normalization and naturalization within public policy and medical frameworks. Both these processes have historical interactions with medical and legal systems. Jordon's work integrates his performance art, social and cultural anthropology, and social work knowledge. Recently, he has presented at the White Privilege Conference, National Association of Social Work Conference, and the Trans-Health Conference. He provides workshops and presentations locally and nationally about working with a transgender community.

To read more about Jordon's work: www.transconsultant.com

Rachel Levitt

I am pursuing a Ph.D. in American Studies and a graduate certificate in Women Studies here at UNM. My research is primarily located in postcolonial studies of gender, sexuality, and feminist theories. My specific research fields cover postcolonial queer studies, queer Native studies, legal theories of identity, and poststructural critiques of subject formation. I am interested in exploring the ways coloniality relies on, is constituted by, and mutually relies on discourses of sexuality. I have taken courses on Indigenous Feminisms; Sex, Race, and Citizenship; Postcolonial Queer Studies; Feminist Theories; Feminist Methodologies; the Legal Construction of Race; and Queer Native Studies. I have also had the opportunity to teach Critical Pedagogy, Introduction to Women’s Studies, Popular Culture, and Feminist Theories here at UNM. In addition to taking classes and teaching, I have also presented my work at several conferences including the American Studies Association conference, the National Women’s Studies Association conference, the National Communication Association conference, the Queering the Discourse conference, the Western States Communication Association conference, and the Pacific Southwest Women’s Studies Conference. My present research generally explores the politics of knowledge production and the way normativities interact. More specifically, I focus on heteronormativity as a technology of settler colonialism, multicultural pedagogy, and seemingly progressive legal protections.

Pip Lustgarten

An MA student, Pip is originally from Oxford, England, and graduated from King's College, University of London, with a BA in Portuguese, Spanish, and Latin American Studies. She moved to New Mexico in 2001 to work for the NM Coalition to Repeal the Death Penalty and has continued to work in the criminal justice, legislative, and public relations spheres. Her academic interests are in topical and folk song lyrics.


Raquel Madrigal

Raquel Andrea Madrigal is a MA student whose areas of concentration are immigration/migration, race/racism, and neoliberalism/globalization with a focus specifically on undocumented students. Originally from Azusa, California, Raquel received two BA's in Ethnic Studies and Political Science/Public Service from the University of California, Riverside in 2009. While at UCR she participated in the Mentoring Summer Research Internship Program (MSRIP) which helped to develop her undergraduate thesis titled: "Invisible Scholars and the Plight of the Undocumented Struggle for Higher Education" as well as to present her work at several undergraduate research symposiums. Her academic interests are organically intertwined with her personal cultural, ethno-racial, political, and economic experiences of growing up Xicana, Mexicana in the U.S. and encountering white America. Moreover, though Raquel was born in the U.S. it is precisely in being aware of her personal history (in which her grandparents, and tías y tíos journeyed from Indé, Durango; Parral, Chihuahua; and El Jefe into El Paso, Texas; Las Cruces, New Mexico; and Los Angeles, California) that she has pursued academia as a tool for social justice and transformation. As such, being a person grounded in faith, and Love Raquel's critique and analysis as an emerging scholar is nonetheless to share the hope she has with a restless world in thinking through new possibilities by which we can love one another, and ultimately change what has been historically damaging.

Andrew Marcum

Andrew Marcum is a PhD candidate. His teaching and scholarship focuses on the relationship between political activism, cultural productions, and social change. He is currently writing a dissertation entitled “Visual Culture and Disability Rights in the Neoliberal Moment” examining contemporary public presentations and museum exhibitions of U.S. disability history and Americans with disabilities.


For the past few years, Andrew has served as a Graduate Teaching Instructor for UNM’s Research Service Learning Program (RSLP). RSLP seeks to engage students in solving long-term challenges related to social justice, economic development, and environmental health through hands-on, community-based service learning projects such as Lobo Gardens, a student-led initiative working to develop campus and community gardens as spaces for learning about, and creating, positive changes for the promotion of social and environmental health.

In addition to social movements, disability history, and visual culture, Andrew’s research interests include queer theory, gender, and sexuality and critiques of neoliberalism. He has presented original scholarship at numerous conferences. His most recent paper, entitled “AIDS, Access, and Disability Activism: Defining Health through Disability and Queerness,” was presented at the 2010 meeting of the American Studies Association. He has also been honored by the University of New Mexico with McNary Memorial Award for outstanding graduate student performance.

Samuel Markwell

Sam graduated from the University of New Mexico's Anthropology Department in 2009 with a BA in Ethnology. He is currently pursuing an MA. His interests include: formations of colonialism and anthropological thought, Enlightenment thought, critical theory, political economy, race and nature, science and technology studies, intersectionality, World War II and the Cold War, and the US national security state. His current work is focused on the intertwined processes of racialized dispossession/exclusion and economic development in New Mexico during the Twentieth century. This work is largely historical and regional but aims at opening up critical approaches to "sustainability", environmental justice organizing, decolonization and sovereignty in the present conjuncture, both within and beyond the state of New Mexico. His future career goals lie somewhere in the crossroads of environmental/cultural politics and social mobilization, and he hopes to utilize his education to become a teacher in some form or another.

Cynthia Martin

I have a BA in English from Portland State University; an MA in American Studies, UNM; a Graduate Certificate in Historic Preservation from UNM’s School of Architecture and Planning; and I am now a PhD candidate working on my dissertation. I am currently teaching Race, Class and Ethnicity, and filling in as a GA for the Oral History Association, affiliated with the UNM English Department. I have work experience in architectural history and photography, labor relations, and the development of alternative transportation solutions in a semi-urban environment. My scholarly work focuses primarily upon folkloric research methodologies which incorporate visual ethnography with oral history. Principal research topics include regional and ethnic foodways, tangible and intangible cultural preservation, environmental toxicants and the biopolitics of breast cancer, personal narrative as a tool for decolonization, subjugated knowledges, and visual representations of the ill.

Trisha Martinez

Trisha Martinez received her BA in Criminal Justice from the University of Wyoming in May of 2011. She double minored in Chicano Studies and African American & Diaspora studies; in which the coursework provided her with a new lens to interpret the world, as well as inspired her to pursue her passion for folkórico in further cultural studies. During her time at UNM, she plans to focus her research on how ballet folklórico has transcended borders, cultures, and has become a fluid art form. She is the proud mother of two young boys, Giovontá and Orlando, whom are truly her life and motivation.

Andrea L. Mays, M.A. CL/CS

Doctoral Candidate

Andrea L. Mays is completing her dissertation on early twentieth century representations of domesticity and normativity by African Americans. Her areas of focus include, African American Studies, Visual Culture and Gender Studies. She has a M.A. in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies from UNM and a B.A. in Communications from George Mason University. Andrea has taught courses on race, class, gender & sexuality, U.S. labor history, and literature in the American Studies and Women's Studies Departments at UNM. She has won several teaching awards including the Susan Deese-Roberts Outstanding Teaching Assistant of the Year Award and The Gunter Starkey Award for Teaching Excellence. She received an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship in 2010-2011, and a Santa Fe Chapter AAUW Scholarship in 2009-2010. In 2009 she won the Best Teaching Assistant Award at the UNM Faculty of Color Awards. Andrea's work has been presented at several regional and national conferences including the Regional Popular Culture Conference (2003), National Women Studies Association Annual Conference (2003 & 2006), The Rocky Mountain American Studies Association Conference (2006), The Annual American Studies Association Conference (2006), and the Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social (MALCS) in 2007. Andrea is an alumnus of The Aspen Institute’s Roundtable on Racial Equity.

Andrea is also a creative writer and has performed original spoken-word pieces in performances spaces in Washington DC, Santa Fe and Albuquerque, NM. Her essays and articles have been published in USA Today, The Burning Bush Feminist Collective, The Women's Resource Center Newsletter and The Guest Columnist Space for UNM's The Daily Lobo. Most recently, Andrea performed her original work in the film Letters to our Daughters directed by native New Mexican filmmaker Christopher Roybal and narrated by Dolores Huerta, the co-founder and First Vice President Emeritus of the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO.

Contact info: amays@unm.edu

William McClary

I was born a military brat. My experiences from mandatory and privileged travels around the world have generated an inquisitive nature towards race, class, and ethnicity. Therefore, the decision to pursue an MA in American Studies was not a difficult one. While many people remain complacent consuming mainstream media, I had a strong desire to search for alternative truths that extended beyond these scenes and pages. This compelled me to complete an undergraduate degree in Journalism at UNM. A minor in Media Arts satisfied my passion to internalize the vast symbolisms that stem from the artistries and cynicisms of film. Rather than viewing racial complications through eyes that are color blind, I will instead turn to a systematic research of multiculturalism to find solutions.

Kara McCormack

Kara McCormack is a PhD student focusing on the mythic West in the popular imagination. Exploring the ways that the "West" has been and is represented in popular culture - the packaging and consumption of the American West as a commodity, how meaning is made by producers and consumers of the West, and the collision of history, myth, and place embodied by the West - has constituted the basis of Kara's studies throughout her graduate career. Hailing from the beautiful city of Boston, Massachusetts, she received her MA in American studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, where her thesis focused on the cultural significance of rodeo. She received her BA in journalism from New York University. In addition to her graduate studies and work at the New Mexico Historical Review, Kara loves science fiction, the Red Sox, traveling the great state of New Mexico, exploring downtown Albuquerque, and riding the rich Albuquerque karaoke circuit.

Carolyn McSherry

Carolyn McSherry has written about the Obama administration’s production of deportability in the context of civil reforms, and other topics related to the racialization of movement. Currently, she is investigating how national economy comes to function as a mode of governance in the 1930’s, and how de-colonial and ecologically purposed projects implemented during that era might have worked to naturalize the lexicons and logics of national economy. Carolyn has lived and taught in Albuquerque since 2001.

Liza Minno Bloom

Originally from the Philadelphia area, graduated with a BA in Journalism from Eugene Lang: The New School for Liberal Arts in New York City. After working in alternative education cooperatives, travelling, and freelancing for independent media outlets for three years, Liza began pursuing her MA in American Studies at UNM. Liza focuses on gender and sexuality and critiques of colonialism. She is currently writing her thesis, a critique of the settler colonial discourses in the 2010 Tribal Law and Order Act, and the role that neoliberalism plays in naturalizing settler colonial systems and imaginaries. Liza has been active in graduate student employee organizing efforts with UNM Graduate Employees Together since the Spring of 2010. She is also a collective member of Black Mesa Indigenous Support (http://blackmesais.org/)--a grassroots, all-volunteer collective committed to anti-racist education and praxis, and supporting the indigenous peoples of Black Mesa (AZ) in their resistance to massive coal mining operations and to the forced relocation policies of the US government.

Farah Nousheen

My research areas of interest are U.S. Orientaliasm, postcolonial theory, Global South feminism, and Palestine. I am a second-year MA with plans to transition into the PhD program for more specific research concerning the transnational racialization of Islam in the post-9/11 environment. Eventually, I’d like to research and teach in an interdisciplinary program in a postsecondary institution somewhere in the world. I've been a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholar since 2006.


Gbenga Olorunsiwa

My name is Olorunsiwa Gbenga Frederick and I am from Nigeria, West Africa. I had my undergraduate degree in English and Literary Studies at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria in 2004. I came to the United States in the Fall of 2005 to pursue a M.A. degree in African American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I received my M.A degree in the fall of 2007. I am currently a PhD student in American Studies at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

I entered the University of Wisconsin-Madison Afro-American Studies program from Nigeria where I majored in English and Literary Studies, and wrote my undergraduate thesis on Wole Soyinka. Soyinka won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986, the first African so honored. My B.A thesis is entitled, "Operatic Tradition in Wole Soyinka Dramaturgy." My undergraduate background includes Victorian, Renaissance, and Shakespearean literature, as well as, African poetry and drama, modern American and British literature, poetry, and literary criticism. It also includes critical theory, spanning modernism, postmodernism, structuralism, deconstruction, feminism, and post colonialism.

My M.A research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison examines human right abuse & genocide in Africa’s troubled areas and how these problems cause many Africans to migrate to foreign countries, particularly the U.S. This scattering of Africans abroad is termed African diaspora. With my undergraduate background in African poetry, history and drama, critical theory, I expanded my literary and cultural frame into geographies and migration themes of the African Diaspora. My M.A thesis is entitled "Migration Narratives in Selected African Literature."

My PhD research focuses on the Diasporas (African and Western), films, literatures, Colonial and Post colonial Studies. I am currently working on my dissertation research and will be exploring Diasporic, Colonial and Post Colonial Representations of Africaness in Cinema. My dissertation explores the representations of Africa through a consideration of the ways in which diasporic cinemas imagine it during four major time period in history: the Colonial Era, the Great Depression era, the Cold War Era, and the Decolonization era in Africa.

Contact info: I can be reached at olorunsiwa@gmail.com or gbenga@unm.edu


Whitney Purvis

Whitney Purvis is an ABD PhD Candidate in American Studies. She received her MA in Spanish from UNM in 2008 and her BA from Northwestern University in 2004. She is the Assistant Coordinator of the Spanish as a Second Language Program. She teaches lower level Spanish courses, and Introduction to Southwest Studies for American Studies. Her dissertation research focus is on inauthentic autobiographical acts, especially pertaining to questions of performative and linguistic misdirection.

Jennifer Richter

Jennifer Richter is a doctoral candidate whose dissertation examines how nuclear technologies affect small communities in southeastern New Mexico. She is interested in the intersections of environment, science and technology, particularly in the ways that national nuclear fears and dreams are manifested at the geopolitical margins of the nation. Jen has also taught several courses at UNM, including “AMST 320: The Nuclear West,” and “AMST 310: Sports in American Culture.” She has taught “AMST 182: Intro to Environment, Science, and Technology” several times and currently teaches this course in an online format. She has been the recipient of the Susan Deese-Roberts Teaching Assistant of the Year as well as the College of Arts and Sciences Award for Teaching Excellence. Jen has presented at several conferences, most recently at ASA in 2009 to present a paper entitled “A Nuclear Renaissance? Reshaping Equity, Economy and Ecology in New Mexico” and for the Society for Cultural Anthropology in 2010, with her paper “Naturalizing Radioactive Waste: How Science Shapes Risk.”

Jen is also fascinated by the ways that science, education, and the public come together, and has coordinated several teen science programs for the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. She was the director of the Earth Force program in Belen in 2011, which brought together middle school students and local community members to create service-learning projects, including Belen’s first community garden. Jen has also appeared in several episodes of the Travel Channel show “Mysteries at the Museum,” discussing historical nuclear controversies.

Rosemary Sallee

As a doctoral student and a technology / arts professional, I have a long history looking at gender and technology, and how they influence and inform women's creativity. I explore how contemporary folklore scholarship sheds light on women's traditional - and more innovative -- forms of expression, looking at the tensions between continuity and change created by consumption, technology, and the information age. My current research interests include feminist debates and the DIY movement, especially as they're expressed in contemporary quiltmaking, knitting and scrapbooking. I'm a Teach for America alumna, and have also taught courses in Communications & Humanities in the Northern Virginia Community College system.

Eileen Shaughnessy

Eileen Shaughnessy is a second-year MA student in the American studies program and Women studies Graduate Certificate Program. She received her B.A. in 2008 from Saint Catherine University (St. Paul, MN) in Justice & Peace studies and Women studies. As an undergraduate, she spent a semester in Northern Ireland studying the ethno-political conflict “The Troubles” and working for the grassroots nonprofit organization Women Into Politics during a historic election year. At St. Kate’s, she co-founded “WE”, an anti-racist activist discussion group, and the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities (ACTC) Justice League, an inter-campus organization whose work focused on social justice issues such as equal access to higher education and militarism. In 2010, she received her certificate in Spiritual Guidance and Leadership. Her research interests include queer feminism, decolonization, environmental justice, policing, and critical race studies.

She enjoys playing drums, banjo, ukulele, and guitar and released a full-length album of music in July 2010 with “Eileen & the In-Betweens”. Email her at: eileens@unm.edu

Jane Sinclair

Jane Sinclair, a Ph.D. Candidate, is completing her dissertation “No Admission Required: Tribal Casinos, Tribal Museums.” She holds an M.A. in Art History from the University of Washington, with an emphasis on Northwest Coast Indian art. As a museum professional, she held positions at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology and the Denver Art Museum. While at UNM, She received four fellowships from the Center for Southwest Research. During this time, she curated an exhibition in Zimmerman Library on the history of Route 66, which formed the foundation for her class “Get Your Kicks on Route 66.” Her essay, on San Esteban del Rey Church and global tourism at Acoma Pueblo, will appear in Salalm: Papers of the LIV Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials. Another article, “The Luck of the Draw: Transnationality, Pueblo Casinos and Outsider Art,” is being published in Visual Representations of Native Americans: Transnational Contexts and Perspectives.

Kristen Valencia

Kristen S. Valencia was born and raised on the United States-Mexico Border in Nogales, Arizona/Sonora. As an undergrad, she believed her career path should encompass the challenges and fulfillment that her education had relayed through textbooks. In 2003, she completed her Bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona in Retailing and Consumer Sciences, with a minor in Business Administration. After working for three years in a cutthroat marketing industry, her career experience left her dissatisfied and with much to be desired. She left her position in search of a career change that yielded results more valuable than a corporation's bottom line. Kristen completed the requirements for her Master's degree in Mexican American and Raza Studies at the University of Arizona in the spring of 2009. The encounters she faced throughout her Master's Degree work led her to a higher level of cultural consciousness, as well as research focus in historical trauma, border theory, bicultural celebrations and binational identity, specifically related to the horizontal lives on the United States-Mexico Border. Her master's thesis focused on the Cinco de Mayo celebrations in Ambos Nogales and the components of the fiesta, including a beauty pageant, that commemorate the camaraderie and interdependence between the U.S. and Mexico on a local level. Kristen just completed her PhD comprehensive examination in the American Studies Department at UNM and intends to elaborate on her Master's thesis research for her dissertation, scheduled to be complete in May of 2013.

Maria Munguia Wellman

Yo soy the daughter of Noe Torres Munguía, who is from este lado and Adelfa Reyna Munguía who is from el otro lado of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. I am 58 years old and I am from the Lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. I was born in Raymondville, Texas which is also the birthplace of Gloria Anzaldúa. I lived there until my parents moved the family to Detroit, Michigan in the mid-1950s. I grew up in Detroit, spent 21 years in Houston, Texas, a number of years in St. Louis and Kansas, and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2000. I am married, my hija is 41 years old and I have two nietos. While in Houston, I earned both my G.E.D. and A.A. at Houston Community College and my B.A. in Psychology at the University of St. Thomas. I earned my Master of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, completed a Fellowship at the Menninger School of Psychiatry in Kansas and I am currently ABD at the University of New Mexico in the department of American Studies. I work as a clinical social worker/consejera at Children’s Psychiatric Center at the University of New Mexico. My dissertation topic is Borderpsychsocial Development and my research data was collected in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas – el valle.

Melanie Yazzie

Melanie is a Ph.D. student in the American Studies department. She came to the department in 2009 after completing her M.A. in American Studies at Yale University the same year. Prior to her time at Yale she worked at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM (2005-2008), where she coordinated various tribal outreach and support services. She graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa in 2004.

Her research interests include critical indigenous studies (with a specialization in critical Navajo and transnational indigenous studies), critiques of colonialisms and violence, and queer and feminist theories. For her dissertation, Melanie intends to queer the everyday politics of neoliberal violence in Navajo society, focusing on how Navajos articulate and form culture in the intimately intertwined arenas of ceremony, labor and kinship. Arguing that colonial violence irrevocably conditions modern Navajo subject and cultural formations, Melanie’s dissertation seeks to understand these dynamics in order to advance effective decolonial projects that address the historical trauma that many Diné continue to face.

Beyond her academic obligations, Melanie recently concluded a research position at the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts in Santa Fe (2009-2011). Currently, she teaches undergraduate courses in Race, Ethnicity and Class; Theories of Modern Power; and Indigenous Feminisms.

Throughout her education Melanie has received numerous prestigious awards, including the Chief Manuelito Scholarship and the Gates Millennium Scholarship. Most recently, she was awarded the Ford Foundation Pre-Doctoral Diversity Fellowship. When Melanie has spare time (a strange concept for graduate students!) she loves to travel, dance, laugh, watch movies, sleep and head to the mountains.

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