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Amy L. Brandzel
Assistant Professor
American Studies and Women Studies

University of New Mexico

Below are just a few of the many wonderful graduate students that I have the pleasure of working with here at UNM (in alphabetical order).

Jara Carrington, Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology

Jara received her B.A. from the University of North Texas (UNT) in Psychology (2004), and she went on to complete her M.A. in Applied Anthropology (2007) also at UNT. Jara is presently a Ph.D. candidate in Ethnology and Linguistic Anthropology at the University of New Mexico (UNM). Her research interests focus on the intersections between sexuality, immigration and the shifting politics of citizenship and belonging in the United States. Jara’s dissertation project is an ethnographic study of how the discursive category “binational same sex couple” attempts to tie individuals with differing nationalities in same sex relationships to the U.S. state, to other binational same sex couples, and to each other. She engages queer and feminist theories, cultural studies, and anthropological analyses of gender, sexuality, and citizenship in order to tease out the cultural logics of inclusion and exclusion in the United States. Jara is currently undertaking her dissertation research in New York City. During her Masters degree Jara worked for Human Rights Initiative, a non-profit organization in Dallas, TX that provides free legal and social services to immigrants (2004-2007). In 2007, she was awarded the Louise Lamphere Research Fellowship in the UNM Anthropology department. She has worked as a graduate assistant in the UNM Anthropology department from 2008-2010, collaborating with two professors for Cultures of the World and one professor for Anthropology of the Caribbean. She also continued to assist Dr. Louise Lamphere with the New Mexico Oral Histories Project through 2010 as a project coordinator. Jara was awarded the 2010 Frieda Butler Award by the UNM Anthropology department. She has presented her work at the American Anthropological Association’s national conference, the annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology, the National Women Studies’ Association as well as in various non-academic contexts. You can contact Jara at jmc0150@unm.edu

V. Gina Díaz, Ph.D. student in American Studies

Gina began the Ph.D. program in American Studies at the University of New Mexico in 2009 while she was still working as the Senior Curator at the National Hispanic Cultural Center Art Museum. 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. Her research interests are racialized genders and sexualities, art and visual culture, critical museum studies, postcolonial queer studies, and performance studies. Gina is a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow. She has taught Introduction to Popular Culture for the American Studies Department and has developed upper-division courses for the Chicano, Hispano, Mexicano Studies Program including Raza Genders and Sexualities and Latino Museum Studies. A curator of the Southwest Gay and Lesbian Film Festival Women of Color Shorts program, she also volunteers with Young Women United and Weaving Ourselves Whole, both Albuquerque-based feminist groups. You may contact Gina Díaz by email at ginadiaz@unm.edu

Jessica Fisken-Harkins, Ph.D. student in American Studies

Jessica is working on a PhD in American Studies as well as a graduate certificate in Women Studies. Her interests and research are located within the fields of postcolonial theory, queer theory, and feminist theory, and she is additionally interested in topics of neoliberalism, decolonization, and transnational migration. Her work thus far has focused on a few different sites, including sexuality-based asylum law, the Anti-Homosexuality bill in Uganda, and same-sex marriage bans in the Navajo and Cherokee nations. Looking at these different sites, Jessica is interested in the ways in which heteronormativity and regulations on queer bodies can be used as lenses to offer a unique perspective on the United States’ role as a colonial power. In addition to her own research, Jessica has taught an introductory class on gender studies, and has assisted in teaching a class on the politics of sex. She is interested in teaching both feminist and queer theory more generally, and also enjoys using those theoretical approaches to teach on topics of colonialism, U.S. empire, and transnationalism. You can contact Jessica at jfishken@unm.edu

Rachel Levitt, Ph.D. student in American Studies

Rachel received her BA from California State University, Northridge (CSUN) in Communication Studies and Women’s Studies (2006). She went on to earn her MA in Communication Studies (2008) also at CSUN. Rachel is presently working on a Ph.D. in American Studies with a graduate certificate in Women Studies from the University of New Mexico. Rachel’s dissertation focuses on the mechanics of the constitution and reconsolidation of the postcolonial queer subject, with an emphasis on the logics and traffics of postcolonial queerness within transnational America. Her work focuses on the intersection of imperialism, gender, sexuality, globalization, nation, and queer studies. Rachel currently teaches in American Studies and Women Studies and has previously taught in the Communication and Journalism department at University of New Mexico as well as at Arizona State University, and California State University, Northridge. Rachel teaches courses on feminist theories; popular culture; gender and women studies; and critical pedagogy both in person and in online formats. She served as the assistant director of the Women's Research and Resource Center at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) from 2005-06. She worked with the CSUN Speech and Debate team from 2006-2008 as their policy debate coach. In 2008 she served on the Queer Studies board responsible for the creation of the Queer Studies minor at CSUN.  In 2009 Rachel was recognized as an exceptional teacher, earning the Outstanding Teaching Award from the Graduate and Professional Student Association at Arizona State University. Rachel served on the Graduate and Professional Student Association Court at University of New Mexico in 2009-2010, and in 2010-2011 she was the Chair of the Equity and Inclusion Committee in addition to co-chairing the American Studies Graduate Student Association. She has presented her work at the National Communication Association Conference, Western States Communication Association Conference, Organization for the Study of Communication Language and Gender Conference, National Women’s Studies Association Conference, Pacific Southwest Women’s Studies Conference, and the American Studies Association Conference. You can contact Rachel at relevitt@unm.edu

Andrew Marcum, PhD Candidate in American Studies

Andrew’s teaching and scholarship focuses on the relationship between political activism, cultural production, and social change. He is currently writing a dissertation entitled “Visual Culture and Disability Rights in the Neoliberal Moment,” which examines public presentations and material embodiments of disability and disability history in the United States since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. His dissertation seeks to interrogate and specify the connections between cultural representation, exhibitionary practice, and changing notions of disability articulated by contemporary disability rights activists. He is currently seeking funding to conduct research for Chapter 3 of the dissertation, “Disability Rights and Exhibitionary Practice at the Smithsonian,” which explores exhibits pertaining to the Disability Rights movement at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History. 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 project begun in the Spring of 2010 by students in his popular “Social Movements in America” class. The Lobo Gardens initiative is working to develop campus and community gardens as spaces for learning about, and creating, positive changes for the promotion of social and environmental health and currently maintains four garden sites on and off campus. In addition to social movements, disability history, and visual culture, Andrew’s research interests include queer theory, gender, and sexuality and neoliberal cultural theory.  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.

Nicholas M. Sánchez, Ph.D. candidate in American Studies

Nick is a native of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Currently, Nick is beginning dissertation work on how postcolonial queer theory can serve as a meaningful bridge between queer/gay Chican@ and Latin@ discourses. Apart from his interest in cultural production and sexuality/gender studies, Nick is an accomplished oboist and hot yoga enthusiast. In his professional duties, Nick teaches online, hybrid, and traditional classes on English Composition I, English Argument & Analysis, Technical / Professional Writing, and Introduction to Race, Class, and Ethnicity. He has guest lectured on Pop Culture and Chican@ sexuality. Most recently, Nick was an invited panelist for “Illustrated Identities: The Book in the Latino Imaginary” at UNM, where he presented on the early work on gay Chicano novelist, John Rechy. For more information on Nick, please visit his website at: http://www.unm.edu/~nsanchez<http://www.unm.edu/%7Ensanchez>

Kelley Sawyer, Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology

Her dissertation research focuses on LGBT tourism in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and accords specific attention to they city’s ongoing gay tourism campaign and its multi-tiered appeals to history, community, identity and citizenship as well as its connections to urban gentrification.  Broadly, she places this research within the intersections of queer, feminist, and postcolonial theories. Her dissertation fieldwork is currently funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. Kelley has taught courses in the Women Studies and Anthropology departments at UNM focused on general introductions to cultural anthropology and queer politics. You can contact Kelley by email at sawyerkp@unm.edu

University of New Mexico: Women Studies, Mesa Vista Hall 2136 and American Studies, Humanities 454; brandzel@unm.edu