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Faculty & Graduate Student Organizers

  • Matilde Córdoba Azcárate

    Matilde Córdoba Azcárate

    Matilde Córdoba Azcárate is a social anthropologist interested in questions of space, politics, ecology and global capitalism. I work as an Assistant Professor in the Communication Department and I am an affiliated faculty member at The Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies (CILAS), The Center for U.S-Mexican Studies, The Chicano/a Latino/a Arts and Humanities Program and the International Institute. At UC San Diego. My book Stuck with Tourism: Space, Power and Labor in Contemporay Yucatan (UC Press, Fall 2020) explores the moral, political, ecological, and everyday dilemmas that emerge when, as Yucatán’s inhabitants put it, people get stuck to tourism’s extractive grip. Contrasting labor and lived experiences at beach resorts, protected natural enclaves, historical buildings of the colonial past and maquilas for souvenir production, the book shows how tourism has become one of the leading forces organizing the predatory geographies of late capitalism. I am currently working on an edited collection on the Geopolitics of Tourism and interested in the dystopian futures fostered by the expansion of Chinese mega infrastructure projects in rural Latin America. More about me here:
  • Elana Zilberg

    Elana Zilberg

    Elana Zilberg is Associate Professor in Communication and affiliated faculty with The Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies (CILAS), The Center Comparative Immigration Studies, the Department of Ethnic Studies, The Chicano/a Latino/a Arts and Humanities Program and the International Institute. Her book Space of Detention: The Making of a Transnational Gang Crisis between Los Angeles and San Salvador (Duke 2011) tackled the devastating intersection of U.S. foreign policy and immigration, criminal and anti-terrorist law from the wane of the Cold War to the rise of the War on Terror for Central American (immigrant) youth on the streets of urban barrios in both countries. Her current book manuscript in progress, tentatively entitled “Bridging Divides: Race, Nature and Infrastructure at the Los Angeles River,” examines the contentious spatial and material politics surrounding urban river revitalization. She teaches courses on borders, urban political ecology, built environments and infrastructure, environmental justice, global consumer geographies, ethnographic research methodology and socio-cultural theory. She co-founded and directed the Studio for Ethnographic Design, served as PI for the UC Collaboratory for Ethnographic Design (MRPI), and is incoming co-director of the Human Rights and Migration Program.
  • Kerry Keith

    Kerry Keith

    Kerry Keith is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Communication and Program in Critical Gender Studies at UCSD. Her research centers on environmental toxicity at sites of incarceration to understand its deleterious effect on both bodies and buildings. Her work questions the ways in which the spatial scale of toxic matter is formative in the production of carceral space, the production of surplus and disposability, as well as provides an opening for materializing abolition. So far, her primary site of research is Rikers Island in NYC to offer historical comparison to examine the ways in which Rikers Island provides a speculative future for prisons built on environmentally toxic sites in the twenty-first century.
  • Paula Santa Rosa

    Paula Santa Rosa

    Paula Santa Rosa is a PhD student in the Communication Department at UCSD. Her research currently focuses on left populism in Bolivia, specifically looking into the media regulation policies implemented during the Evo Morales administration (2006-2019). She’s interested in how these policies have transformed the Bolivian media landscape, and the political and cultural role of community radios and their differentiated relationships with the state.

Faculty Members

  • Fernando Domínguez Rubio

    Fernando Domínguez Rubio

    Fernando Domínguez Rubio, is an Assistant Professor in the Communication Department at UC San Diego. My book Still Life Ecologies of the Modern Imagination at the Art Museum (University of Chicago Press, 2020) explores kinds of practices, technologies and infrastructures that are required to produce the categories through which we build, describe, and organize the worlds that we dream and inhabit, as well as the ceaseless labor of maintenance and repair required to prevent their collapse.  I am currently broadly interested in technologies of description, fragility and ecology as method. More about me here:
  • Alex Fattal

    Alex Fattal

    Alex Fattal is an Assistant Professor in the Communication Department at UC San Diego and is on the Board of Directors of the AjA Project, an organization dedicated to photographic and multimedia education for youth affected by war and displacement. My work is deeply interdisciplinary, combining media studies, socio-cultural anthropology, and the documentary arts. My book Guerrilla Marketing: Counterinsurgency and Capitalism in Colombia (University of Chicago Press, Nov. 2018) explores the representational politics surrounding Colombia’s war and the fitful efforts to forge a less violent future in that country. More about me here:
  • Mariel Gruszko

    Mariel Gruszko

    Mariel Gruszko is a cultural anthropologist and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Arts and Humanities. Her work examines relationships between space, politics, materiality and the body, and lay expertise. Her book project, Architecting Participation: Design as Practical Democracy in Barcelona, examines how residents and planners in Barcelona use participatory urban planning to incorporate residents’ bodily experiences and knowledge of inequality, health, and risk into urban development. The book explores how collaborators contest and construct shared experiences of neighborhood-based democracy and sustainability in the process of designing together.
  • Christine Hunefeldt Frode

    Christine Hunefeldt Frode

    Christine Hunefeldt Frode, is an Emeritus Professor in the History Department where she has been teaching since 1990. She received her Ph.D. in Ethnology, Americanistics, and History from the University of Bonn, Germany in 1982. Her research focuses on Latin American history with an emphasis on Andean history, the lives of women, indigenous populations and slaves. Currently her research is centered in the Amazon Basin and the virtual reconstruction of its history. More about me here:
  • Nancy Kwak

    Nancy Kwak

    Nancy Kwak, Associate Professor History Department and the Director of the Arts and Humanities Center at UC San Diego. I am currently researching informal urbanism and the housing crisis in Southern California. In the process, I have become interested in the politics of drought and water access. You can read more about me here:
  • Luis Martín-Cabrera

    Luis Martín-Cabrera

    Luis Martín-Cabrera is the Director of the Latin American Studies program and an associate professor in the department of literature. He is currently working on a Digital oral History project called the Transandean Lithium Project. In this research he investigates the impact of lithium extraction in the indigenous communities of Argentina, Chile and Bolivia. More about me here:
  • Chandra Mukerji

    Chandra Mukerji

    Chandra Mukerji is Distinguished Professor Emerita in Communication and Science Studies. Her research is on the built environment and politics. She is the author of From Graven ImagesRethinking Popular Culture (with Michael Schudson), Territorial Ambitions and the Gardens of VersaillesImpossible Engineering, and Modernity Reimagined. She is currently studying artisans and politics. More about me here:
  • Nancy Postero

    Nancy Postero

    Nancy Postero, Professor of Anthropology and Co-Director of the Human Rights Program at UC San Diego and is the Co-Director of the International Institute at UC San Diego. My research examines the relation between race, politics, and political economy, focusing specifically on indigenous peoples of Latin America. More about me here:
  • David Serlin

    David Serlin

    David Serlin is Associate Professor of Communication and Science Studies, and affiliated faculty in Critical Gender Studies and the Interdisciplinary Group in Cognitive Science, at UC San Diego. He is also an affiliated faculty at the Center for the Study of Social Difference at Columbia University. His research interests include historical and cultural approaches to disability, technology, and the politics of design; architecture, urbanism, and the built environment; material culture and museum studies; scientific and aesthetic histories of the senses, especially tactility and cognition; and feminist, crip, and queer theories of embodiment and subjectivity. More about me here:
  • Manuel Shvartzberg Carrió

    Manuel Shvartzberg Carrió

    Manuel Shvartzberg Carrió is Assistant Professor in Urban Studies and Planning at UC San Diego. An architect and architectural historian, he researches histories and theories of architecture and geopolitics, particularly how modern architectural technologies and territorial infrastructures mediate regimes of settler colonialism, racial capitalism, and processes of decolonization. His recent work draws from Science and Technology Studies, Marxist and decolonial critical theories to think through how modern architecture operates in ecological, political, and economic terms. More about me here:
  • Christo Sims

    Christo Sims

    Christo Sims is an associate professor of Communication and an affiliate faculty member in Science Studies, Ethnic Studies, and the Design Lab at the University of California San Diego. His research focuses on technology, design, and social inequality. He is the author of Disruptive Fixation: School Reform and the Pitfalls of Techno-Idealism (Princeton 2017), which won the 2018 Best Book Award from the Communication, Information Technologies, and Media Sociology section of the American Sociological Association. He is currently working on a book that investigates the social life of sustainable architecture. During the 2020-21 academic year he was a member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. More about me here:
  • Ameeth Vijay

    Ameeth Vijay

    Ameeth Vijay is an Assistant Professor in Literature at UC San Diego who specializes in global anglophone literature, modern and contemporary British literature, postcolonial studies and urban studies.  His current book project examines the intersections between literature, urban planning and architecture and tracks the persistence of colonial relationships in the development of contemporary spaces, including in global cities. More about me here:
  • Matthew Vitz

    Matthew Vitz

    Matthew Vitz is an environmental and urban historian, specializing in modern Latin America. My book, A City on a Lake: Urban Political Ecology and the Growth of Mexico City (Duke 2018), tracks the environmental and political history of Mexico City and explains its transformation from a forested, water-rich environment into a smog-infested megacity plagued by environmental problems and social inequality. I am currently working on two projects. The first is a history of tropical development--tourism and coconut oil production--in and around Acapulco, Mexico, during a time of rising social conflict, state-sanctioned repression, and ecological breakdown. The second, "Imperiled Ecologies: Environmental Critique in the Age of Development," seeks to rescue an eclectic history of environmental thought and practice in 20th century Mexico and situate it at the intersection of global scientific networks producing ecological knowledge and the locally specific environmental transformations brought on by state-sanctioned capitalist growth. More about me here:
  • Rihan Yeh

    Rihan Yeh

    Rihan Yeh is an Associate Professor in Anthropology. Her book Passing: Two Publics in a Mexican Border City (2018) explores the border’s role in shaping Mexican sensibilities of self and collectivity in Tijuana, Baja California. She is currently at work on a second project about the scopic regimentation of subject positions across and around the Mexico-US border, in particular, in and near the San Ysidro port of entry that connects Tijuana and San Diego.


Graduate Student Members

  • Taylor Brough

    Taylor Brough

    Taylor Brough is an Anishinaabe and white writer and thinker in the Communication department. My work focuses on questions of social reproduction, movement history, and radical language across native and black studies. I study how discursive forms of counterinsurgency are enacted across the space and time of the nation-state and racial capitalism, as well as how nativeness, blackness, and indigeneity provoke insurgent and decolonial relations against and beyond these spatio-temporalities. 
  • Niall Chithelen

    Niall Chithelen

    Niall Chithelen is a PhD student in the Department of History and an editor and writer for Taxis Magazine. He has previously studied banditry in Republican-era China and the Asia-Pacific Peace Conference of 1952. He is working toward a dissertation project on internationalism, travel, and the built environment in the People's Republic of China. 
  • Tony Cho

    Tony Cho

    Tony Cho is a designer and 1st year PhD student in Communication. Trained as a design engineer at the Royal College of Art & Imperial College London, my previous work as an UX designer was for Samsung's design governance unit. My interests are centered around examining how designers may negotiate sustainable practice in relation to data infrastructures and climate change.
  • Sam Gaffney

    Sam Gaffney

    Sam Gaffney is a PhD candidate in the Communication Department at the University of California, San Diego. His research focuses on coal and energy transition in Australia. He is currently investigating conflicts and contestation over large-scale coal projects, in particular the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project being developed in Central Queensland by the Indian conglomerate, Adani. His project should reflect upon how the uncertainties and opportunities that accompany energy transition are produced, negotiated, and capitalized-upon in practice.
  • Mateus Guzzo

    Mateus Guzzo

    Mateus Guzzo is a Brazilian media producer and organizer living in southern California. Specialized in composing and deploying process-based collaborative platforms for projects, stories and organizations, Guzzo has a bachelor in Media Studies by University of Campinas, Brazil, and is currently pursuing his MFA in Speculative Design at University of California, San Diego. More about me here:
  • Sofia Lana

    Sofia Lana

    Sofia Lana is a thrid-year sociocultural anthropology student who analyzes climate change, receding glaciers, and how catastrophic discourses obscure ongoing resource extraction. Her research focuses on the relations between humans and melting glaciers in the Cordillera Real of La Paz, Bolivia, where extractive activities are emerging as glaciers retreat. In particular, she is interested in exploring the interplay of various actors- whether it is Aymara communities, scientists, miners or governmental institutions- who are claiming rights to a transforming landscape. More about me here.
  • Grant Leuning

    Grant Leuning

    Grant Leuning is an artist and PhD Candidate in the Department of Communication at UC San Diego. His research focuses on the island of Jeju, off the south coast of the Korean peninsula, and concerns the role of image-production and the tourist industry in establishing and disputing divergent spatial arrangements, environmental imaginaries, and personal identities under conditions of neo-colonialism. His artistic practice, as member of the experimental cross-border collective Comité Magonista: Tierra Y Libertad, engages with the 1911 Magonista Revolution and its flag, enacting its remnant possibilities against the US/Mexico border.
  • Kevan Malone

    Kevan Malone

    Kevan Malone is a PhD candidate in the Department of History. His research examines urbanization and environmental diplomacy in the Tijuana-San Diego border region during the twentieth century. More about me here.


  • Stephanie Y. Martínez

    Stephanie Y. Martínez

    Stephanie Y. Martínez is a third year PhD student in the department of ethnic studies and a graduate specialist in the critical gender studies program. Their research examines the entangled histories of settler industries, environmental degradation, and leisure in the South Bay region of Los Angeles (Chaawvenga/Amupubit). They are interested in counter hegemonic formations of cultural and political resistance as well as informal economies of work and care. Their work is guided by and accountable to decolonial, queer, and feminist relations and approaches to land and the environment.
  • Joseph Moreno

    Joseph Moreno

    Joseph Moreno is a PhD student in the Department of Communication at UCSD.  His research centers around labor and bordering--particularly, the gendered, racialized, and technoutopian logics of labor along the southern US border.    With an eye on the colonias of the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Southwestern Texas and the area’s rich history of mass technological intervention and racialized labor, from the advent of mass agribusiness at the turn of the 20th century to the ongoing development of Elon Musk’s “Space Base,” he investigates the logics and infrastructures which both create and maintain liminal subjects/workers as well as discursively reshape “rural” landscapes for technocratic legibility and intervention.    
  • Damini Pant

    Damini Pant

    Damini Pant is a PhD student in the department of Anthropology and Critical Gender Studies (CGS). Her research work is based in Kumaon, Uttarakhand (India) located in the Western Himalayas. She is interested in the politics of mobility within and without the region. Through her doctoral work she hopes to interrogate the production of narratives that naturalize a stereotypical, timeless and romanticized image of the region. Before joining UCSD she earned an M.Phil. in Women’s Studies from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and an M.A. in Literature from the University of Delhi.
  • Joe Riley

    Joe Riley

    Joe Riley (b. 1990, USA) is an artist, researcher, sailor, and PhD student in Art History & Art Practice at University of California San Diego; where he also participates in the Program for Interdisciplinary Environmental Research at Scripp’s Institute of Oceanography. His work considers how oceans have long been a source of cultural and visual techniques that mediate the co-production of human and nonhuman worlds. This inquiry traces contemporary urgencies such as rising sea-levels and ocean acidification back through a dense historical gathering of maritime social practices and sea-life: looking from the vantage of the sea to register the ecological declension of natural, technical, and human processes. More about me here:
  • Daniel S. Ramirez

    Daniel S. Ramirez

    Daniel S. Ramirez is a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology in Centro de Estudios Antropologicos at El Colegio de Michoacan A.C. (COLMICH) and research fellow at the Center for U.S-Mexican Studies in the UCSD. Since an historically informed, but synchronically perspective, he has been working in the production, appropriation, and transformation of identities and representations of rural populations in its articulations with the nation-state and the global cultural markets. His Ph.D research tracks the relationship between cultura heritage -included heritage cultural landscapes–, intellectual property rights -specifically territorial brands and geographical indications– and cultural tourism in Tequila (Jalisco, Mexico) and Aguadas (Caldas, Colombia).
  • Akshita Sivakumar

    Akshita Sivakumar

    Akshita Sivakumar is a Ph.D candidate and a designer. I research manifold practices around models and simulations of diffuse objects (eg. natural or anthropogenic aerosols like dust). My spatial interests are also influenced by my long-standing engagement with architectural and urban design studies. Smatterings of my work can be found at
  • Riley Taitingfong

    Riley Taitingfong

    Riley Taitingfong is a PhD candidate in the Department of Communication at UCSD and current President's Dissertation Year Fellow. Her dissertation engages feminist STS and ethnographic methods to critically analyze the development of an emerging genetic engineering technology known as gene drive, and attendant ethical implications for Indigenous communities.  More about me here: Platform for Experimental, Collaborative Ethnography (PECE).
  • Nancy Turtletaub

    Nancy Turtletaub

    Nancy Turtletaub is a PhD student in the Anthropology Department at UC San Diego. Prior to beginning my doctorate in Anthropology, I completed my Master's in Latin American Studies at UC San Diego. My research looks at conservation projects and paradigms in Chilean Patagonia, the expansion of national parks, and the effects of the burgeoning eco-tourism industry. I seek to understand the role of market and state forces in these processes - how global capitalism is articulated to practices of conservation and the Chilean state's neoliberal presence in mitigating these relationships.
  • Veronica Uribe del Águila

    Veronica Uribe del Águila

    Veronica Uribe del Águila is a philosopher and social scientist with experience in the areas of design, labor, feminist science and technology (STS). My previous work dealt with the critical aspects of design and its possibilities for fostering political agency. My latest work explores the different ways in which the highly contested and profitable category "make" is produced and gains value today across the world specially the global south. I am interested in the way the socio-technical praxes and discourses that constitute “making” intersect with broader discourses about labor, technology, education, race, disability, gender, neoliberalism, colonialism and imperialism. More about me here: