News & Events


UC San Diego Ethnic Studies' Undergraduate Essay Contest Winners


We are pleased to announce the winners of the UC San Diego Department of Ethnic Studies' Undergraduate Essay Contest of 2020-2021. In the call for submissions that we circulated last year, we asked our contestants to reflect on the following questions:


1) How have UC San Diego's Ethnic Studies courses helped you understand the intersections between the crises surrounding COVID-19 and the widespread demonstrations against structural racism and institutional injustices?

2) What concrete actions should Ethnic Studies take as a department and as a field to address these issues in a way that brings about meaningful change?


The award committee has selected three winners who will receive equal shares of the $600 award. The recipients (in alphabetical order) and their essay titles are:


Iris Lin (Ethnic Studies Major, Class of ’23), "Keep Moving Forward": The essay is a well-crafted introspection about our complicities with dominant structures of racism through biases that affect varyingly racialized and/or colonized groups. Moving beyond ideas of diversity and inclusion that often occlude complex power dynamics, the author offers practical suggestions for undoing patterns of disidentification and apathy among UC San Diego students who have had first-hand experiences with racism, colonialism, and/or xenophobia. For example, Lin proposes that the department serve as an intermediary for forming student groups that would build additional mechanisms of mutual aid and social justice praxis on campus (e.g., like groups that establish connections between students and incarcerated individuals, or groups that respond to local food insecurities).

Yeran Mkrtchian (Molecular & Cell Biology Major, Class of ’23), "More Than a Percentage": Here, the author suggests concrete ways to establish more effective collaborations between UC San Diego's School of Medicine and the Ethnic Studies Department, including hosting seminars by scholars from minoritized communities, sponsoring "cultural weeks" on Library Walk for diverse cultural and ethnic student clubs, encouraging/facilitating the inclusion of ethnic studies topics in pre-med and pre-health courses, and offering a community service course that immerses students, locally or abroad, in community issues.

Mónica Vázquez (Ethnic Studies Major, Class of ’22),: "Covid-Viruses Do Not Discriminate": This essay weaves together personal narrative and poetry in elegant prose, with critical insights regarding how to divest from harmful institutions by attempting new forms of solidarity. For example, Vázquez recommends that we undertake movements that organize us to divest from prison funding, fossil fuels, and unwelcome business ventures in indigenous land.

 We congratulate the winners and urge everyone to read the winning essays on the department webpage. We will also recommend that the department discuss ways of implementing the suggestions made by the essay winners.



UC San Diego Ethnic Studies Statement against Caste and Caste-based Discrimination


The Department of Ethnic Studies at UC San Diego opposes caste-based discrimination against  all students, staff, and faculty. Against the commonly circulated idea that only South Asians, specifically Hindus, should care about caste, we understand caste as a 2,500-year-old system of dehumanization that made Dalits, those outside the Brahminical caste system, into “untouchables,” as non-humans who could be killed with impunity. Caste is a structure of violence that affects over 1 billion people across the world. As a department committed to the relational study of race, ethnicity, indigeneities, gender, sexuality, class, and dis/ability, we acknowledge the importance of caste studies to the field of Ethnic Studies.

As the 2018 survey on “Caste in the United States” by Equality Labs, a Dalit civil rights organization, shows, 40% of Dalit students report facing discrimination in educational institutions in the diaspora.[1] In contrast, only up to 3% of respondents who were “upper” caste reported the same. With the number of students from India in the United States exceeding 200,000 in 2018 (constituting 18% of all international students) and is expected to continue growing​[2], it is urgent that we  recognize that caste is a system of violence that is as oppressive as racism, colonialism, and other oppressions. 

We see our department’s recognition of caste and caste-based violence as strengthening the anti-caste movement at UC San Diego and in the United States. There are no legal protections for caste-oppressed communities in most countries (United States included) because caste is not recognized as a category distinct from religion, ancestry, race etc. Lack of legal protections allows for caste-based discrimination within South Asian diaspora, as the recent Silicon Valley company Cisco case shows us.[3] It also allows for non-South Asians to often unknowingly but structurally participate in caste-based violence by working with casteist upper-caste South Asian scholars, students, and administrators. 

We understand that caste-supremacy is sidelined as caste-privileged people continue to circulate simply as “people of color”. Attending to the complexities of race, caste, and religion, we intend to recruit Dalit and Muslim faculty and students in the coming years. We will also work with Dalit faculty member(s) and allies across the campus to have caste included in the anti-discrimination policy of UC San Diego as part of the much-needed anti-caste organizing on campuses in North America.


Opening Up Critical Spaces with Dr. Shenila Khoja-Moolji: On Sovereign Attachments


Ethnic Studies is very happy to invite you to our first colloquium series event with Dr. Shenila Khoja-Moolji who will present on her book, Masculinity, Muslimness, and Affective Politics in Pakistan, on Wednesday, November 10th at 3 pm PST. The wonderful Tirrezz Hudson and I will then enter into a conversation with Dr. Khoka-Moolji about her book and the process of writing it.

Click here Newsletter ( for flyer and more information about the Wed., November 10, 3-4:30pm PST event


Garifuna New Yorkers: Hemispheric Entanglements of Blackness, Indigenity and Central American Carbbeanness

Assistant Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, Bowdoin College
"Garifuna New Yorkers: Hemispheric Entanglements of Blackness, Indigenity and Central American Caribbeanness.” Dr. Pablo José López OroAssistant Professor of Africana Studies, Smith College & 2021-22 Miriam Jiménez Román Fellow at NYU 
Wednesday, December 1, 3-4:30pm PST 
Register in advance for this meeting here:

Click here Newsletter ( for flyer and more information about the Wed., December 1, 3-4:30pm PST event: 


Housing Message from the Council of Chairs


October 5, 2021
Dear Council of Chairs,​​

The Office of the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and Housing, Dining and Hospitality worked throughout Summer 2021 to assist students in achieving housing stability in the tight La Jolla market through hotel partnerships, working with off-campus property managers, expanding off-campus housing resources, and providing financial grants through Basic Needs.

We are pleased to share that any lower division and incoming transfer student previously waitlisted has been offered on-campus housing. We continue to work with approximately 150 upper division students remaining on the waitlist. We would appreciate your assistance in sharing these resources with any student you become aware of who is facing housing insecurity. These resources are available immediately through Basic Needs and the Off-Campus Housing office.

Resources available through campus:
* Through the Off-Campus Housing Office, students can schedule a housing consultation to review off-campus housing options. Students can also search for housing, roommates and off-campus living resources with the help of a dedicated off-campus housing team.
* UC San Diego has a Basic Needs Emergency Grant available to students who do not have sufficient funds for food or housing because of a medical emergency, impacts from COVID-19, or any other urgent financial need.
* UC San Diego contacted local hotels to explore special rates for students who need transitional, immediate housing. As a result, four Marriott hotels indicated that they are offering UC San Diego students extended stay housing options at a discount. If students staying at the Marriott find that they may need additional financial assistance, they can apply for one-time support through the Basic Needs Hub.
* Isolation and quarantine housing (at no cost to students living on or off campus) were relocated to two hotel properties to maximize undergraduate housing availability on campus.
We look forward to partnering with you on distributing up-to-date information to our students about financial assistance as it pertains to housing and other basic needs.


Alysson M. Satterlund, Vice Chancellor
Student Affairs

Hemlata Jhaveri, Executive Director
Housing, Dining and Hospitality


Ethnic Studies Department Chair Welcome Letter 2021-22

Yil tol wi hokišak kuš (Good day relatives),

I greet you in the Ishak language of my ancestors. Wi hokišak kuš means we are all relatives/connected. I share this greeting to offer my hope and wish that we in the Ethnic Studies department are building relationships and bonds that go beyond the formal relationships often found in a university context. Over the past two years we have witnessed many reminders about the importance of Critical Ethnic Studies as a vehicle for engaging, understanding, and addressing inequality in contemporary society. We recognize that there are many uncertain, painful, and stressful pressures on all of us as the United States and the world witness devastation because of climate neglect, anti-Black racism, religious and nationalist forms of xenophobia, gendered and sexual violence, continued land dispossession of Indigenous peoples and a global health crisis in the form of coronavirus (COVID-19). As we return to campus at UCSD, let us remember that we are still working towards a better world filled with commitments to education, service, and self-care. 


Let us not forget that all the recent events (fires here in California, hurricanes in the Gulf Coast of the southern United States, anti-Asian hate, Palestinian dispossession, repression of voting rights) are not new social or political phenomena. These events are connected to centuries of colonial violence over land and over people. In Ethnic Studies it is our mission to work to address these issues in ways that will improve the world and make it more just for future generations. We can only achieve this when we come together, strengthen our connections, and support one another as kin, and as family. This year, while different from any we have experienced in history; also offers us an opportunity to find ways to thrive through collective action and community building. 


As the department chair of Ethnic Studies, I want to share that I am always here to support you whether you are alumni, students, faculty, staff, administrators, or other community members in the department, across campus, in San Diego or wherever your travels may take you in the world.  I would like to extend a huge note of gratitude to Yvette Obando who stepped in this summer to support our department faculty and staff. Her generosity and love is a reminder that she is always an important part of the Ethnic Studies family. As we begin another academic year, I want to welcome our new staff member, Amanda Vassall, Ethnic Studies, Financial and Human Resources Services Analyst, 


Amanda has worked at UC San Diego for 15 years, in various departments ranging from San Diego Supercomputer Center, Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor, School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, Campus Human Resources, and most recently in the Department of Economics as a Fiscal Coordinator. She is a UC, Irvine alumni with a Bachelor of Arts in History. She's an avid distance runner, has attended Comic Con for the past 10 years. 


Please join we in welcoming Amanda as well as our stellar incoming year one graduate cohort members:


Antonio Catrileo holds a BA and MA from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso in Valparaiso, Chile, majoring in Hispanic Language and Literature. They are interested in studying how colonial categories are imposed on non-heterosexual Mapuche people in Chile, and in theorizing “epupillan being,” a Mapuche form of two-spirited subjectivity. Their analysis connects colonial history to more recent contexts of neoliberal  Cairmulticulturism. Focusing on epupillan activists, artists, and scholars, they foster alternatives to colonial hetero-patriarchy. They also hope to put Mapuche epistemologies in conversation with “Indigenous Studies located in Turtle Island,” decolonial theory, and “interdisciplinary perspectives that de-center and reevaluate Western colonial practices of knowledge.” They are an accomplished artist and the author of numerous essays and two books, Awkan epupillan mew: Dos espíritus en divergencia (Pehuén Editores: Santiago de Chile, Chile) and Diáspora (Ediciones Simiente: Cuernavaca, Morelos. Mexico).  


Tirrezz Hudson received his BA at North Carolina State University majoring in Psychology. His thesis “A Praying Man, A Praying Spirit: Images of Prayer and Black Masculinity,” is an interdisciplinary cultural study that draws on gender and sexuality studies, Black liberation theology, and musicology to analyze the construction of masculinity as both individual and collective, and aimed at taking action for Black freedom. He examines the construction of Black male religiosity in the work of Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, James Baldwin and Malcom X, and concludes with the revealing contemporary example of the Black Yogi movement which teaches meditation and yoga to Black boys and men. Building on cultural studies methods, he plans to investigate intersections of race, gender, sexuality and religion.  


Bettina Serna has earned a BA and MA in Sociology from California State University, San Marcos. In her research she employs ethnographic, quantitative, and geographic methods to analyze intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality in California service and entertainment industries. With a focus on racialized and gendered workers in gambling casinos and cannabis dispensaries, Serna’s work combines labor studies and critical vice studies. In her senior thesis, Playing the Game: Work Experience of Women Card Dealers in California Casinos, she analyzed the gender and race performances of Asian women card dealers in their work interactions with mostly male clientele and male supervisors. More recently Serna has begun researching the race and gender contradictions of cannabis legalization in Southern California, employing mapping software and data visualizations to make visible how the war on drugs has resulted in the relative exclusion of Black and Latinx consumers and workers from the legal cannabis economy. She has also collected data related to the experiences of undocumented community college students and co-wrote a chapter titled in “Community College: A Gateway to Fulfill Educational Dreams,” in the book Undocumented Latinos Navigating Education and other Social World. An accomplished teacher and former community college student herself, Serna combines research and activism to increase educational access for low-income, first-generation community college students. 


Ruhail Ahmad Andrabi Syed holds a BA and MA from the University of Kashmir, where he has analyzed youth resistance to the Indian occupation of Kashmir. His first writing sample, titled “Interrogating the Anthropology of Biopolitics and Education in Kashmir” (forthcoming in the online journal titled Inverse) uses Foucault’s concept of biopower to analyze how Kashmir has been transformed into “the Guantanamo of India” through state technics for controlling “the mobility of people, their bodies and intellectual spaces,” including classrooms. His second writing sample, “Contesting Authoritarianism, Redefining Democracy: Youth and Citizenship,“  analyzes the response of Muslim youth to Indian state efforts to deny them citizenship. Drawing on the narratives of the young people who participated in protests against that prospect, Sayed attempts to understand how youth in contemporary India perceive, experience, and engage struggles over ideas of citizenship and nation. Finally, he is an important public intellectual, publishing work about the occupation in online venues, and an accomplished, published poet. At USCD he hopes to study questions of embodiment and “protest pedagogies” among youth opposing the occupation.  


We are extremely excited to welcome a new and talented group of doctoral students who will build on the strengths, history, and community here in Ethnic Studies at UCSD. I am also happy to share some exciting news about our most recent graduates of the doctoral program. Our alumni our forever family and important members of our story as a department. 


Please join me in celebrating their accomplishments:


Hina Shaikh 

Dissertation Title: “Fractured Patterns: Data, Space, and the Search for Muslim Women” 

Current Position: Assistant Professor in Gender, Sexualities, and Women's Studies at the University of Florida


Ly Thuy Nguyen 

Dissertation Title: “Revolutionary Others: Migratory Subjects and Vietnamese Radicalism in the U.S. During and After the Vietnam War”

Current Position: Assistant Professor in Asian American Studies at Augsburg University, Minneapolis.


Aundrey Jones

Dissertation Title: “Dreams Eclipsed: Culture and Warfare in Black Los Angeles” 


Banah Ghadbian

Dissertation Title:  "Ululating from the Underground: Syrian Women’s Protests, Performances, and Pedagogies under Siege"


New ABD students- those who advanced to doctoral candidacy AY 20-21

Christiane Assefa

Greg Gushiken

Rochelle McFee

Noelle Sepina


I would also like to congratulate, Liliana Sampedro who was awarded the highly coveted Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship and Stephanie Martinez Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship Runner-Up. Huge and much deserved appreciations to Department Graduate Coordinator, Christa Ludeking who was awarded the Employee of the Year Award by the University for her commitment to innovation, building relationships, and inclusive excellence. Congratulations to Rochelle McFee on the recent publication of her book chapter, “Moving from Theory to Praxis: Sexual Violence and the #MeToo Movement” in the newly released book, The Routledge Handbook of the Politics of the #MeToo Movement (edited by Giti Chandra and Irma Erlingsdottir, Recent graduate, Dr. Banah Ghadbian is a finalist for the Ralph Henry Gabriel Dissertation Prize for the American Studies Association, please join me in offering a note of congratulations to Banah on this amazing accomplishment!


The 2021-22 academic year brings many new opportunities to build and grow as a community. This year also marks the beginning of a new Native American and Indigenous Studies Graduate Certificate Offered by the department and open to any UCSD graduate student, The department will finalize implementation of a new Bachelor’s Degree in Pre-Medical Ethnic Studies and we are also working collaboratively with students and faculty across campus on a Disability Studies minor to possibly be housed in the department. As we continue to build on our current strengths, we also welcome the opportunity and grow this year and beyond. At our upcoming retreat we will be discussing our three faculty recruitment plan in an effort to expand upon the current expertise within our department. 


Our undergraduate adviser, Monica Rodriguez continues to work on creating dual degree double major pathway information sheets to help students interested in double majoring in Ethnic Studies and other disciplines across campus. We have made new changes to our website and are expanding our social media platforms on Facebook ( and  Instagram (,, and @nais_ucsd on IG. Please add them and share with others in our communities. 


New Books by Faculty

Keywords for Comics Studies. Eds. Shelley Streeby, Ramzi Fawaz, and Deborah Elizabeth Whaley. New York University Press, June, 2021. 


Louisiana Creole Peoplehood: Afro-Indigeneity and Community, eds. Andrew Jolivétte, Rain Prud’Homme-Cranford, and Darryl Barthe. University of Washington Press, December, 2021.


While there are many new things on the horizon, we want to also welcome your ideas and stories particularly those of our alumni. We would like to create an alumni spotlight feature on our website and to invite alumni to participate in a winter or spring 2022 Ethnic Studies Student Recruitment and Outreach Fair/Orientation. Please feel free to email me ( if you have news you would like to share with the UCSD Ethnic Studies community. 


In closing, I want to offer deep appreciation and gratitude to our staff, students and faculty who work incredibly hard to build sustainable relationships and a learning environment that will cultivate life-long learning and transformative action to build a more just world. I leave you with a poem I wrote some years ago, “We Remain”. It reflects my personal and professional commitment to each one of you and to the communities and ancestors who allow us all to be here in this place where we will continue this work in meaningful ways that center community. I want to acknowledge and give thanks and appreciation to the Kumeyaay. We acknowledge and recognize the Kumeyaay people as the original caretakers and on-going stewards of the unceded land known as San Diego. We work and live here mindful of the Indigenous peoples in this place, past, present, and emerging and thank them for allowing us to be in this space and commit to working with them today, tomorrow, and into the future for their self-determination and stewardship of this territory. I wish you all safety, community, and profound and meaningful new knowledge among community and family this year and into the future. 


Wi hokišak kuš, 

Andrew Jolivétte Ph.D.,

Professor and Chair, Department of Ethnic Studies

Director, Native American and Indigenous Studies