Norma Alarcon Dissertation Fellow

Cynthia Ledesma Cynthia Ledesma is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Ethnic Studies. She earned a B.A. in Political Science and Latina/Latino Studies from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and an M.A. from the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. As Project Coordinator for the Graduate Minority Outreach Recruitment and Retention Project, Cynthia served as the graduate student representative on the Academic Senate Committee on Student Diversity and Academic Development, the Chancellor’s Taskforce on Multicultural Student Development, and the Chancellor’s Council on Campus Climate. She co-founded the Domestic Colonialisms and Resistance Working Group, the Race, Gender, and Political Economy Reading Group, and El Semillero, a forum dedicated to mapping a Chicanx/Latinx radical tradition. During her time at UC Berkeley, Cynthia has served as graduate student instructor and lead instructor for courses in Comparative Ethnic Studies, Chicana/o Latina/o Studies, Native American Studies, and Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies earning the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award in 2016. In addition, Cynthia has received the Chancellor’s Fellowship Award and served as a Graduate Fellow for the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, a Chancellor’s Public Fellow for the Center for American Cultures and Engaged Scholarship, and a Graduate Fellow for the Ethnic Studies Changemaker Project. She is currently a Berkeley Connect Fellow in the Department of Ethnic Studies. Her dissertation examines the battle over space and housing waged on Chicago’s southwest side during the mid-20th century. Her research focuses on the racial and gendered tactics employed by urban working-class whites to secure racial boundaries through heightened surveillance, a demand for increased law enforcement, and the organization of resources around safeguarding private property. Her work has been generously supported by the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, the Latinx Research Center and Berkeley Connect.

Alfred Arteaga Dissertation Fellow

Marcelo Garzo Montalvo Marcelo Garzo Montalvo (Mapuche, Chilenx) is an award-winning scholar-activist, classically-trained experimental musician, Aztec ceremonial dancer. He was the Alfred Arteaga Dissertation Fellow in 2019-20 and filed his his dissertation in 2020, in Comparative Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley. While at UC Berkeley, he was recipient of the Chancellor’s Fellowship for Diversity and Inclusion and received the Institute of Noetic Sciences Consciousness in Action Award. His academic work has been supported by the Tinker Foundation, the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, the Center for American Cultures and Engaged Scholarship, and the Center for Latin American Studies. He was an active member of multiple on-campus working groups, including Performance in the Americas, the Color of New Media, and Peripheral Futures. Marcelo taught in the Department of Ethnic Studies from 2012-2019, receiving the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award in 2016. As a scholar and educator, he regularly teaches and guest lectures in university and K-12 classrooms, presents at academic and activist conferences, and facilitates popular education workshops with community-based organizations. He has worked on staff and served on the board of directors for multiple Bay Area-based community food justice organizations including the People’s Grocery, Planting Justice, and Pie Ranch. He has also been active as a healing justice organizer, co-founding the BadAss Visionary Healers and serving on the organizing committee for the Men’s Healing Clinic Collective. As an artist and musician, Marcelo is an alumnus of the Emerging Artists Professionals Fellowship and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Labor and Ecology Think Tank. His art, research and activism focuses on decolonization and inter-generational, inter-cultural healing. In 2020-21, Marcelo teaches at Harvard University as Visiting Assistant Professor of Latinx Studies and Lecturer in the Ethnicity, Migration, and Rights Program. He is also Director of the Latinx Studies Working Group.

Former Post-Doctoral Fellows

Lilia Soto Dr. Lilia Soto is Director and Assistant Professor of the Latina/o and American Studies at the University of Wyoming with affiliations in the Gender and Women’s Studies Program and International Studies. From a historical and ethnographic position, her research focuses on comparative/relational race and ethnic studies, transnational migration, identity formation and the interconnectedness of time, place, age, gender and sexuality. Her first book, Girlhood in the Borderlands: Mexican Teens Caught in the Crossroads of Migration (New York: New York University Press, July 2018), couples the temporalities of migration with age, gender, and sex as intersecting categories of analyses and the bearing these have on the lived experiences of Mexican teenage girls raised in transnational families. In 2018-19, Lilia advanced and presented new research at the LRC on her second research project tracing the historical silencing of the Mexican presence from the Napa Valley narrative and its rippling effect in present-day Napa. ( She has been the recipient of the following fellowships and awards: NEH Summer Seminar, the Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, and the University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Former Visiting Scholars

Ignacio Ornelas Rodriguez Ignacio Ornelas Rodriguez, Ph.D., is a historian, and was a visiting scholar at the LRC in 2018-19 and 2019-20. Ornelas’ work and research focuses on California history, and in particular, Chicano history and Chicano/Latino studies and Latino politics. Much of his work has focused on archival research that documents Mexican and Mexican American history. The history of Mexican labor in the United States necessarily includes the study of civil and voting rights and the generations of Mexicans who advocated for those rights. Ornelas is currently rewriting for publication his dissertation, titled “The Struggle for Social Justice in the Monterey Bay Area 1930-2000: The Transformation of Mexican and Mexican American Political Activism.” Dr. Ornelas Rodriguez currently serves on the Board of Directors of the California Institute for Rural Studies. His areas of expertise include U.S. and California History, Political Science, and Latino Politics. Dr. Ornelas hosted the LRC’s October 23, 2020 Round Table Discussion on Latinxs & the 2020 Election with California politicians María Elena Durazo, Luis Alejo, and Kevin de León and political analyst, Mike Madrid, and can be viewed here: Latinx and the 2020 Elections: A Round Table Discussion.

Maurício Barros de Castro Maurício Barros de Castro, Ph.D. in History, University of São Paulo, is a professor at the Rio de Janeiro State University and was a visiting scholar at the Department of Ethnic Studies and Latinx Research Center in the fall of 2019. Castro research’s focus on the art of the Black Power movement (1963-1983), mainly Afro American artist Faith Ringgold, and its connections with the artworks of Chicano artist Rupert Garcia and Afro-Brazilian artist Abdias do Nascimento. His areas of expertise include an interdisciplinary perspective on Contemporary Art, Black Popular Culture, African Diaspora, and Afro-Latinx History. He is the author of three books on Afro-Brazilian Popular Culture and is published in AM Journal of Art and Media Studies (2018) and African and Black Diaspora: An International Journal (2016). Mauricio’s interview with Rupert García appears in the Latinx Research Center’s Revista N’oj Issue No. 2, focused on decolonial aesthetics. His January 28, 2020, lecture at the LRC can be viewed here: Spirit of Fight: Decolonizing Art, the African American / Latinx context (1963-1983).

Javier García Fernández Javier García Fernández, Ph.D. in Postcolonial Studies, University of Coimbra, is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Granada and visiting scholar at the Latinx Research Center for the fall of 2022. García Fernández’s research focus is on the history of the conquest of Al-Andalus from a global perspective, the Spanish Empire, the relationship between fascism and imperialism, postcolonial studies, and decolonial theory. García Fernández is the author of Descolonizar Europa: Ensayos para pensar históricamente desde el sur (2019), Más allá del arabismo y el medievalismo: Al-Ándalus en perspectiva poscolonial (2021), and with Ramón Grosfoguel and José Antonio Pérez Tapias editor of Descolonizar las ciencias sociales y las humanidades. Perspectivas desde Andalucía y el sur de Europa (2021). García Fernández is currently coordinator of the Andalusian Seminar of the Decolonial Thought.

Undergraduate Research Apprentices

Frida Pavlova Torres

Frida is a junior at UC Berkeley, majoring in Sociology with a minor in Chicanx/Latinx Studies. She currently facilitates a GenSex DeCal on campus, which focuses on power, privilege and mental health. Her research focuses on how online dating apps affect sexual education and discourse. Frida is the co-editor of Revista N’oj and works on the LRC podcast project.

Adriana Ortega

Adriana Ortega is currently a junior transfer from Los Angeles. She attended Glendale Community College and is a Media Studies Major at UC Berkeley. Adriana is extremely exited to be working on the Latinx Research Center’s media projects and hopes to gain experience that she could take with her in the future. (Photo by CBGRAPHY) 

Michael Allen Papias

Michael Papias is a fourth-year double majoring in Ethnic Studies and Film, with a Minor in Education. This semester he will be working closely with Professor Raymond Telles and his URAP team on producing documentary segments/chronicles. This will take the shape of assisting in the research process and assisting in any production/post-production work.

Daniel Marquez

Daniel Marquez is a senior at UC Berkeley studying Political Economy with a concentration in Latin America. As a URAP apprentice, Daniel will be developing podcasts for the Latinx Research Center based on interviews and research pertinent to the various work being done at the LRC.

Gabriela “Gaby” Padilla

Gabriela was born and raised in East Los Angeles, California. She is an undergraduate student majoring in Art History at the University of California, Berkeley with an interest in Chicanx/Latinx art. Her goal is to build a positive atmosphere in academic institutions for people of all backgrounds to learn, experience and appreciate the arts.

Sam Gutierrez

Sam Gutierrez (they/them) is a first-generation, queer Latinx student embarking on their third year as an Ethnic Studies major and Education minor. They are excited to begin their work as an Undergraduate Research Apprentice and look forward to learning more about the possibilities art holds as a mode to share knowledge and understand others in relation to Ethnic Studies.

Lily Lucero

Lily is a second year double majoring in Global Studies (Latin America focus) and Spanish and Portuguese. In addition to working as a research apprentice at the LRC, Lily writes for the Latin American Leadership Society’s publication, volunteers at the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, is on the board of the Student Immigration Relief Clinic, and enjoys hiking, swimming, and making art of her own in her free time. ies.

Ayana Molina

Ayana Mora is a 2nd year Anthropology major with a minor in Journalism. This semester Ayana will be working with Professor Raymond Telles on the Latinx Histories and Documentary Arts Project at the LRC.

Jonathan Molina

Jonathan is a junior transfer at UC Berkeley. He is majoring in Political Science and minoring in Ethnic Studies. He assists Professor Angela Marino’s research into the intersections of performance, media, and democracy. He also helps create podcasts in association with the LRC.