Staff & Steering Committee

Team RCA | Former Graduate Researchers and Undergraduate Interns | RCA Steering Committee

Team RCA
Sylvanna Falcón HeadshotSylvanna M. Falcón, Director

Associate Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies

Professor Falcón's research and teaching interests are in the areas of human rights, transitional justice in Peru, transnational feminism, and racism/anti-racism. Her book, Power Interrupted: Antiracist and Feminist Activists inside the United Nations (University of Washington Press, 2016) won the 2016 National Women's Studies Association Gloria E. Anzaldúa Book Prize. Over 2016-17, she was a co-principal investigator of Non-citizenship, UC Santa Cruz's Mellon-funded Sawyer Seminar on migration and mobility, belonging, and rights. She is also the producer and host of a weekly public affairs news program called Voces Críticas/Critical Voices on KZSC 88.1FM and KCSB 91.9FM.

jpowell-headshot80.jpegJacquelyn Powell, Program Manager

Jackie manages daily operations of the RCA, such as event planning, guest speaker relations, and faculty and student awards. Besides her work at the RCA, Jackie is a yoga teacher for kids and adults. She has also lived in Bolivia, Guatemala, Nepal, and Nicaragua. She graduated from Gettysburg College with three degrees, one of which is in Latin American Studies/Spanish.


Francesca Romeo, Graduate Student Researcher (Summer & Fall 2019)

Film and Digital Media

Francesca is a PhD candidate in the Film and Digital Media department at UC Santa Cruz. Her research examines the intersection of digital media and political violence. Deploying a theory/practice approach, her scholarship envisions and reveals alternative ways of scripting resistance and securing social justice through open source investigations and the development of alternative databases. Francesca is a Graduate Student Researcher for the Human Rights Investigations Lab where she creates content for weekly seminars and helps guide undergraduate researchers through the online investigation process in the lab. 


Alejandra W. Farro, Graduate Student Researcher (2019 – 2020)

Latin America and Latino Studies

Alejandra is a PhD student at the Latin American and Latino Studies department at UC Santa Cruz. Her research interests explore the construction of narratives in the climate justice organizations from the Global North regarding development and conservation. Specifically, she explores how to incorporate inputs from different worldviews and to increase the representation and visibility of movements from the Global South. She is interested in how social movements and grassroots environmental activists in Latin America organize based on their territory, their processes and the mechanisms of transnational contention to resist climate crisis impacts. Alejandra is currently a Graduate Student Researcher for the Human Rights Investigations Lab working on weekly seminars with undergraduate students to gather public domain information and the Internet to understand different human rights conflicts in the Americas.

marina-segatti-headshotMarina Segatti, Graduate Student Researcher (Fall 2019)

Feminist Studies

Marina is a PhD student in the Feminist Studies Department and Latin American Latino Studies Department at UC Santa Cruz. Her research investigates how queer Brazilian immigrants reinscribe and challenge aspects of gender, sex, race, ethnicity, and culture while forging their social and political identities in the context of the United States. She is interested in critically examining the linguistic practices that Brazilian queer immigrants may employ in a context of constant mobility and shifting boundaries, such as queerness and migration, and how through these linguistic practices they may (re)negotiate normative notions of nation, citizenship, and family. She is the coordinator of the collaborative research cluster Interrogating the Intersections of Gender, Race, and Class to Examine Brazil's Current Reactionary Wave with the Research Center for the Americas at UC Santa Cruz. Marina is currently a Graduate Student Researcher for the Human Rights Investigations Lab where in collaboration with undergraduate students, she conducts open-source-based investigations to understand and address human rights violations in the Américas. Marina is also a co-founder of Coletivo Desbordar, a feminist and leftist collective of Brazilian immigrant women in the Bay Area that through direct actions, media campaigns, and support groups, aims to bridge transnational solidarity with social movements in Brazil and Latin America. She is a lecturer in Linguistics at Holy Names University, in Oakland.  

Click here to learn about former graduate student researchers and undergraduate interns

RCA Steering Committee

amengual-80.jpgMark Amengual

Associate Professor, Languages and Linguistics

Professor Amengual's research and teaching interests focus primarily on bilingualism, experimental phonetics, and psycholinguistics. His research on linguistic and cognitive aspects of bilingualism has been published in international venues, including Journal of Phonetics, Phonetica, Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, International Journal of Bilingualism, Frontiers in Psychology, Applied Psycholinguistics, and Lingua, among others. He is the director of the Spanish Language Program in the Department of Languages and Applied Linguistics, and the director of the UCSC Bilingualism Research Lab.


Gabriela Arredondo, ex officio

Associate Professor and Chair, Latin American and Latino Studies

Professor Arredondo (RCA/CLRC Director, 2008–13) received her Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago and is the author of Mexican Chicago: Race, Identity, and Nation (University of Illinois Press, 2008) and co-editor of Chicana Feminisms: A Critical Reader (Duke University Press, 2003). Her research and teaching interests range from migration histories and critical race formations in the Americas, to comparative Latino histories and Chicana feminisms. Over 2015-16, she oversaw the oral history component of Nuestras Historias: RCA/CLRC Archive Project.

balloffet_photo_july-201.jpgLily Pearl Balloffet

Assistant Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies 

Lily Pearl Balloffet is a scholar of migration and mobility in historical context. She is the author of Argentina in the Global Middle East (Stanford University Press, forthcoming), a transregional history told through the lens of alliances, solidarities, and exchanges that emerged from past migration booms in the Global South. Her Current research explores histories of moving people, foreign capital, and evolving migration policies in the Caribbean Basin. She has also published articles in the Journal of Latin American Studies, Mashriq & Mahjar: Journal of North African & Middle East Migration Studies, Latin American Studies Association Forum, and The Latin Americanist. Other research and teaching interests include contemporary Latin American hip hop, social revolutions, and inter-American relations.

chemers-thumb.pngMichael Chemers 

Associate Professor, Theatre Arts

Michael Chemers researches the “dramaturgy of empathy,” a wide-ranging and interdisciplinary inquiry that seeks to understand how performance culture moves ideas about compassion and kindness (and conversely, fear and hatred) move through social networks.
k-eaton-80.jpegKent Eaton

Professor and Chair, Politics

Professor Eaton’s research focuses on a variety of political issues in Latin America, including political parties, economic development, decentralization, and the rise of subnational governments. Over the last twenty-five years he has lived and worked extensively in Latin America, including most recently in Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru. His research on politics in the region has been published in Latin American Politics and Society, Latin American Research Review, and Journal of Latin American Studies. His newest book is entitled Territory and Ideology in Latin America (Oxford University Press, 2017). 

TJ Demos headshotT.J. Demos

Professor, History of Art and Visual Culture

Founder and Director of UC Santa Cruz's Center for Creative Ecologies, Professor Demos writes widely on the intersection of contemporary art, global politics, and ecology. He is the author of The Migrant Image: The Art and Politics of Documentary During Global Crisis (Duke University Press, 2013), winner of the College Art Association’s 2014 Frank Jewett Mather Award, and Return to the Postcolony: Spectres of Colonialism in Contemporary Art (Sternberg Press, 2013).  In January 2015, he co-curated Rights of Nature:  Art and Ecology in the Americas at Nottingham Contemporary and, in March 2014, he organized Specters: A Ciné-Politics of Haunting at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid. 

JGonzalez.HeadshotJennifer A. González

Professor, History of Art and Visual Culture

Professor González's books include Subject to Display: Reframing Race in Contemporary Installation Art (MIT Press, 2008) and Pepón Osorio (University of Minnesota Press, 2013). Her essays about digital bodies and critical race studies have appeared in anthologies such as The Cyborg Handbook, Race in Cyberspace, Visible Worlds, and Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self. She is now coediting with Tere Romo, Chon Noriega, and Ondine Chagoya Chicana/o Art: A Critical Anthology, forthcoming from Duke University Press.

KGruesz.HeadshotKirsten Silva Gruesz

Professor, Literature

Professor Gruesz teaches and writes on the long history of Chicanos and Latinos in the United States. In addition to Abassadors of Culture: The Transamerican Origins of Latino Writing (Princeton University Press, 2001), she has published over two dozen essays on topics ranging from early Spanish-language periodicals in the borderlands, to the Hispanic Gulf of Mexico, to the politics of making a contemporary Latino canon. Her current book, Cotten Mather's Spanish Lessons: Language, Race, and American Memory, is forthcoming from Harvard University Press. She is also coordinator of UC Santa Cruz's Latino Literary Cultures Project/Proyecto culturas literarias latinas.

john-jota-80.jpegJohn Jota Leaños

Professor of Social Documentation, Film and Digital Media

Professor Leaños is an award-winning Xicano-mestizo new media artist using animation, documentary and performance focusing on the convergence of memory, social space and decolonization. Leaños’ animation work has been shown internationally at festivals and museums including Sundance Film Festival, Cannes Short Film Corner, the Morelia International Film Festival, Mexico, San Francisco International Festival Animation, the KOS Convention 07, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. Leaños has also exhibited at the 2002 and 2008 Whitney Biennial in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Leaños is a Guggenheim Fellow in Film (2012), Creative Capital Foundation Grantee, a United States Artist Fellow and has been an artist in residence at the University of California, Santa Barbara in the Center for Chicano Studies, Carnegie Mellon University in the Center for Arts in Society, and the Headlands Center for the Arts.

Steve McKay headshot

Steve McKay

Associate Professor, Sociology

An internationally renowned scholar of labor, migration, globalization, and race, Professor McKay is the author of the award-winning Satanic Mills or Silicon Islands: The Politics of High-tech Production in the Philippines (Cornell University/ILR Press, 2006) and co-editor with Sukanya Bannerjee and Aims McGuinness of New Routes for Diaspora Studies (Indiana University Press, 2012). In addition to serving on the RCA Steering Committee, he directs the Center for Labor Studies and is the principal investigator of Working for Dignity, a project on low-wage labor in Santa Cruz County. He was also a co-principal investigator of Non-citizenship, UC Santa Cruz's 2016-17 Mellon-funded Sawyer Seminar on migration, mobility, belonging, and rights.

m-ohara-80.jpegMatt O’Hara

Associate Professor and Chair, History 

Matt O'Hara is a historian of colonial and nineteenth-century Latin America with a focus on Mexico. His areas of research interest include political culture, religion, and the history of time. His publications include the books A Flock Divided: Race, Religion and Politics in Mexico (Duke University Press, 2010); The History of the Future in Colonial Mexico (Yale University Press, 2018); and Imperial Subjects: Race and Identity in Colonial Latin America (Duke University Press, 2009) (co-edited with Andrew Fisher).

pinho-80.jpgPatricia de Santana Pinho

Associate Professor, Latin America and Latino Studies

Patricia de Santana Pinho is the author of Mapping Diaspora: African American Roots Tourism in Brazil (University of North Carolina Press, forthcoming 2018) and Mama Africa: Reinventing Blackness in Bahia (Duke University Press, 2010), an updated and expanded version of the award-winning Reinvenções da África na Bahia (Editora Annablume, 2004). Her research and teaching focus on blackness, whiteness, racism, and forms of resistance to racism in Brazil and, more broadly, the black diaspora in Latin America. She has contributed book chapters to several edited volumes and published in Latin American Perspectives, Latin American Research Review, Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism, Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism, Les Carnets du Lahic, Revista Brasileira de Ciências Sociais, and Tempo Social. She recently co-edited with Bianca Freire-Medeiros a special issue on tourism and mobilities of Revista Plural. Pinho is a member of the Executive Committee of BRASA (Brazilian Studies Association) and the Advisory Board of Luso-Brazilian Review.

cat-ramirez-80.jpegCatherine Ramirez, ex officio

Associate Professor, Latin America and Latino Studies

Catherine S. Ramírez is a scholar of race, gender, migration, mobility, and citizenship. Her current book project, Assimilation: An Alternative History, is under contract with University of California Press. She is the author of The Woman in the Zoot Suit: Gender, Nationalism, and the Cultural Politics of Memory (Duke University Press, 2009) and several essays on race, gender, and speculative fiction. As director of UC Santa Cruz’s Research Center for the Americas (2013-2018), formerly the Chicano Latino Research Center, she was the Principal Investigator of Non-citizenship, our campus’ first Andrew W. Mellon Foundation John E. Sawyer Seminar on the Comparative Study of Culture. She has also won awards from the Ford Foundation, UC Institute for Mexico and the United States, and UC Humanities Network, as well as UC Santa Cruz’s Excellence in Teaching Award. Over 2018-19, she’ll take part in our campus’ inaugural EVC Fellows Academy.

FSchaeffer.HeadshotFelicity Amaya Schaeffer

Associate Professor and Chair, Feminist Studies

Professor Schaeffer is the author of Love and Empire: Cybermarriage and Citizenship across the Americas (New York University Press, 2013), an exploration of the relationship between global shifts and intimate circuits of desire, love, and marriage. Her current research is on surveillance technologies and the sexual criminalization of migrant bodies on and beyond the US-Mexico border. Other research interests include borderlands and transnationalisms; affect and capitalism; race, technology, and subjectivity; and Chicana and Latin American cultural studies. She was a co-principal investigator of Non-citizenship, UC Santa Cruz's Mellon-funded Sawyer Seminar on migration, mobility, belonging, and rights, over 2016-17.