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Student Spotlight

Drew Johnson
Spanish, PhD Candidate
Border Studies, Carceral Studies, Critical Legal Studies

What does diversity mean to you? 

To me, diversity is about listening to and empowering the voices of those whose tongues are often bound by structures of domination. In the university, we can create the intellectual and affective space to question and challenge the “comfort zone” or status quo that gives cover to injustice and oppression.

How does your work engage with diversity topics and what motivates you to do so?

My research asks questions about the history of immigration and detention policy in the Americas, to try and understand how these laws and their enforcement determine who is deemed to count as human in the present. My scholarly research is informed by on-the-ground experience working on pro bono legal projects that serve detained asylum seekers. I am committed to an expansive view of publicly active scholarship, whereby knowledge production is a living and democratized project.

Previous Student Spotlights

Arcelia Gutiérrez
PhD Romance Languages and Literatures, Spanish 2019
Latinx Studies, Media Studies, Media Activism Studies

What does diversity mean to you? 

Diversity goes beyond embracing and celebrating differences. It represents a social justice mission that fights for the inclusion of systemically marginalized communities. True diversity seeks to grant agency and power to historically disenfranchised groups.

How does your work engage with diversity topics and what motivates you to do so?

As an interdisciplinary scholar, my work engages diversity and intersectionality by researching how Latinxs engage in media activism and advocacy. In other words, I explore how Latinx media activist organizations challenge mediated stereotypes and push for the inclusion of Latinxs in various media industries, such as television, film, and radio. The recent political turmoil in the United States and the scapegoating and vilification of Latinxs fuel me to pursue this research. My hope in conducting this work is to not only uncover how our community fights against disparaging depictions put forth in the media, but to also celebrate our agency and humanity.

Ph.D. dissertation "Deploying Latinidad: Citizenship, Activism, and Media Advocacy from the 1980s to the Present”.  Arcelia was the founding student member of the RLL Diversity Committee and will be joining the faculty at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, where she will begin her appointment as Assistant Professor of Latino/a Studies in the Fall 2019.