Marina Chavez


Marina Chavez

PhD Candidate

Marina V. Chavez graduated cum laude from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chicana and Chicano Studies and Sociology. As an undergraduate, she became involved in student organizing which includes participation in the Associated Students’ Student Lobby, and attended a UC system-wide organizing conference at UC Riverside as a UCSB student delegate. Due to family experiences of academic tracking and discrimination, Marina pursued research examining inequality and power in the classroom contexts. She became exposed to the process of research as a student in the Education Abroad Field Research Program in Mexico from July to November 2010 where she conducted creative writing workshops focused on classroom power dynamics as well as excavating students’ own understandings of ethnicity, class, and gender in class discussions, story-writing, and poetry under the guidance of Education researcher Maribel Paniagua Villarruel.  She continued gaining experience as a research assistant for UCSB Sociology professor Victor Rios, acquiring training in critical ethnography and oral histories while researching in local high schools. As a Research Assistant, she worked as a mentor and researcher, conducting in-class observations, interviews, and focus groups as well as assisting in survey development, dissemination, and inputting data. Through this work, she developed a research paper titled “ ‘I Don’t Give a Fuck’: Latina/o High School Students’ Vexed Transgressions to Dehumanized Learning.”

Early in her graduate career, Marina realized that what drew her to studying inequality in the classroom was not the education system itself but rather the intersection of power with knowledge production and meaning-making. She shifted her focus to cultural expression, focusing on Chicanx/Latinx dancers of Mexican folkloric dance. Her experiences as a dancer in folklórico student group Raíces de mi Tierra in addition to her academic training have shaped her research interests, including nationalisms, gender and sexuality, and Chicanx/Latinx cultural expressions. She received her Masters of Arts in 2015 in the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department at UCSB where she is now a sixth-year student and doctoral candidate developing her dissertation “Zapateando: The Gendered and Sexual Politics of Chicanx/Latinx Folklórico Dance Practice.”  In her project, she engages participant-observer methodology as well as oral histories to explore the ways in which dancers are navigating “traditional” gender and sexuality roles alongside efforts to enact “cultural home.” Additionally, her work as a research assistant for the Global Latinidades Project (GLP) facilitated the growth of her project as she interrogates the limits of performances of “nation” in the 21st-century context.

The GLP provided Marina with unique professionalization training as she contributed to the development of various grant initiatives and the establishment of UCSB’s President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship. She also had the opportunity to contribute to the development of documentaries on the historic opening of the Las Maestras Center as well as on the transformative work of queer Chicano poet Joe Jimenez. The Project has expanded her research methods training as Marina assisted with interview transcription, locating research materials, building, and searching archives, and developing source and literature databases as part of the project’s efforts to recover the work of Latinx authors and delegations beyond the United States. Through this position, she has cultivated a broader understanding of emerging directions of Chicana/o/x and Latina/o/x Cultural Studies. The project’s interest in internationalizing these fields and moving beyond the nation-state helped her to further develop a critical perspective in her examination of Mexican folkloric dance practices in her dissertation.