Workshop in Latina/o/x Studies

This workshop took place in summer 2018.

The University of Iowa Workshop in Latina/o/x Studies is a summer program (July 16–20, 2018) designed to bring together scholars across the career timeline—from graduate students finishing their dissertations to full professors—to share and develop works-in-progress. Outside of a few specialized conferences and their own professional networks, there are few places that Latina/o/x Studies scholars can go to share work, get feedback, and begin the intensive process of revision and reimagining their projects. This Workshop aims to be such a place. Over the course of a week, scholars get instruction on best writing practices, read and offer feedback on one another’s projects in a structured environment, participate in blocks free-writing time, and even share some work with the local community. Housed at the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Iowa, the Workshop aims to be an ideal setting to help scholars move projects from draft to published.

The inaugural theme of “Critical Latina/o/x Communication Studies” engages Latina/o/x communication in ways that are methodologically diverse, theoretically complex, radically contextual, politically invested, and rhetorically self-reflexive. Spanning many of the sub-disciplines (including rhetorical studies, media studies, performance studies, intercultural communication studies, interpersonal communication studies, and more) and other fields entirely (critical sociology, American studies, comparative ethnic studies, history, etc.), critical Latina/o/x communication studies seeks to interrogate questions of power, privilege, hegemony, and coloniality, often as they relate to issues of identity/difference, race/ethnicity, sexuality, gender, etc. As such, this workshop is designed as an opportunity to bring together critical Latina/o/x communication scholars from various disciplinary homes to converse, network, and offer feedback for one another on current projects—all in a cooperative environment.


Dr. Darrel Wanzer-Serrano is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies and Latina/o Studies Program at The University of Iowa. His research is focused on the intersections of race, ethnicity, and public discourse, particularly as they relate to formations of coloniality and decoloniality in the United States and within Latina/o/x contexts. His award-winning book, The New York Young Lords and the Struggle for Liberation (Temple University Press, 2015), is the first scholarly monograph on one of the most significant organizations of the Puerto Rican diaspora. He is also editor of The Young Lords: A Reader, which was a well-reviewed critical edition of primary source documents produced originally by the organization, and author of numerous communication studies journal articles. Dr. Wanzer-Serrano teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in critical race studies, Latina/o/x studies, social movement, rhetorical theory, and more. He is also co-director, with Rene Rocha and Ariana Ruiz, of the Latina/o/x Studies Working Group at the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies.


Dr. Roberto Avant-Mier is Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Texas at El Paso, and Research Fellow in the Sam Donaldson Center for Communication Studies. His research focuses mainly on popular music and cinema, emphasizing cultural issues in media representation such as Latino/a identity issues. He is the author of Rock the Nation: Latin/o Identity(ies) and the Latin Rock Diaspora (2010, Continuum/Bloomsbury), and the forthcoming Cine-Mexicans: An Introduction to Chicano Cinema (in press, Kendall Hunt).

Sara Baugh-Harris is a doctoral candidate in the Communication Studies Department at University of Denver. Her broader research focuses on Latinx and Chicanx feminist rhetorics, and she has become increasingly invested in decolonization as an essential methodology within rhetorical scholarship. Her dissertation project lies at the nexus of Latinx feminist rhetorics, decolonization, and memory scholarship as she examines silence, excess, and collective memory in decolonial memory projects surrounding Puerto Rican poet Julia de Burgos.

Dr. Bernadette Marie Calafell is a Professor of Culture and Communication at University of Denver. She is author of Latina/o Communication Studies: Theorizing Performance and Monstrosity, Performance, and Race in Contemporary Culture, and co-editor (with Dr. Michelle Holling) of Latina/o Discourse in Vernacular Spaces: Somos de Una Voz? She was the recipient of the Lilla A. Heston Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Interpretation and Performance from the National Communication Association in 2009 and received the Lambda Award from the Caucus on Gay and Lesbian Concerns of the National Communication Association in 2017. 

Dr. Aimee Carrillo Rowe is Professor of Communication Studies at California State University Northridge. Her current monograph, Queer Xicana: Performance, Affect and the Sacred, works at the intersection of Chicana feminism, queer theory, and indigenous studies. Close readings of Xicana art, performances and interviews with artists point to the various ways queer Xicana performance mobilizes vexed affects and the sacred to create opportunities for collective healing. She is also author Power Lines: On the Subject of Feminist Alliances, as well as numerous other books and journal articles.

Dr. E. Cassandra Dame-Griff is Assistant Professor and Director of Ethnic Studies at Winona State University. Her interdisciplinary research and teaching bridges questions of embodiment, gender, race, citizenship, public and political discourse, and U.S. Latina/o/x Studies. Her manuscript, entitled A Benevolent War: Anti-Obesity Rhetoric and the Construction of the Latina/o/x Other, examines how the so-called War on Obesity is characterized by seemingly benevolent interventions into Latina/o/x lives and communities. These interventions, however, reflect contemporary anti-Latina/o/x immigrant rhetoric, which posits Latinas/os/xs as excessive and undesirable others against whom “obesity” is deployed as a reason for their removal.

Dr. Anne Demo is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences who studies visual/digital advocacy. Her research has examined photography in early environmentalism, feminist art activism, disability apps, and the role of documentaries in public deliberation about the immigration industrial complex. A past recipient of the National Communication Association’s Golden Monograph award, her articles have appeared in Quarterly Journal of Speech, Critical Studies in Media Communication, Rhetoric and Public Affairs, and Women’s Studies in Communication. She is coeditor of Rhetoric, Remembrance, and Visual Form: Sighting Memory (Routledge, 2012) and The Motherhood Business: Communication, Consumption, and Privilege (University of Alabama Press, 2015).

Dr. Michael Lechuga is Assistant Professor of Rhetoric in the Department of Communication Studies at The University of Minnesota. His research crosses disciplines to incorporate critical cultural studies, materialist rhetoric, and affect studies to make sense of how Latina/o/x migrants are alienated in the US today. Michael is a scholar/activist dedicated to creating more equitable landscapes of citizenship for Latina/o/x communities in the public sphere, in the academy, and in today's media landscape.

Dr. Rebecca Mercado Jones is Assistant Professor of Communication at Oakland University who specializes in critical/cultural communication. Her research focuses on how economic, political, and geographical encroachments influence the way women narrate their life course. She uses ethnographic, auto ethnographic, and life history interviewing research methods to understand how women speak about home, identity, and embodiment in a variety of cultural contexts. She teaches courses such as Multicultural Communication, Performance Communication, Family Communication, Race and Communication, and Cultural Theory.

Dr. Lina-Maria Murillo is Assistant Professor of Gender, Women's and Sexuality Studies and History at The University of Iowa. Currently, she is completing her first manuscript analyzing the clinics, organizations, and institutions that helped to foster access to reproductive care along the U.S.-Mexico border. This history reveals the tensions between advocates for population control and those committed to greater reproductive freedom for women in the twentieth century. Her research shines a light on the unknown history of abortion, population control, and Chicana activism that comprised the movement. Lina's interested in women's reproductive freedom, critical race theory, gender, and sexuality on the border, empire and colonialism.

Arthur D. Soto-Vásquez is a doctoral candidate at American University and will be an Assistant Professor at Texas A&M International University in Fall 2018. His research focuses on how digital platforms are used by elite actors to socialize U.S. Latino communities as American political and economic consumers. His dissertation is focused on recent campaigns to mobilize Latino voters. Previous work published by Arthur investigated the historical role the American President had in shaping the discourse around naming Latino subjects. Arthur is also active in his community. He is affiliated with the National Hispanic Institute where he mentors high school youth on communication skills and Latino issues.

Co-sponsorship for the Workshop comes from:

  • Department of Communication Studies
  • Chief Diversity Office
  • Obermann Center for Advanced Studies
  • Latina/o Studies Program