I am a Professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia. Previously, I taught in the Communication Studies Department at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. At Virginia, I am Chair of the Media Studies Department and I am affiliated with the Latin American Studies program and the American Studies program.
I was born and raised in Mexico and began my education at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (Mexico City, Mexico). In 1992, I migrated to Canada and eventually I went back to graduate school. I did a Masters in Communication Studies at the University of Calgary (Canada), and continued on with a Ph.D. in Radio, Television and Film at the University of Texas at Austin.
My research, writing, and teaching engages with the areas of global media, Latin American film, comparative media studies, and Latinas/os media studies. My first book, Screening Cuba: Film Criticism as Political Performance During the Cold War(Sept. 2010, University of Illinois Press), is a comparative study of film reception of Cuban film, cultural criticism, and citizenship in Cuba and the USA from the 1960s to 1985. I have also published journal articles that have appeared in places like Television & New Media, Studies in Hispanic Cinemas, New Cinemas, Critical Discourse Studies, Latino Studies, and Text and Performance Quarterly.
My second book, Citizenship Excess: Latinos/as, Media, and the Nation (Feb. 2013, New York University Press), proposes a new way of theorizing U.S. citizenship that can better accommodate the lived political and media realities of Latinas/os. In this project I take a multidisciplinary approach to citizenship that links contemporary nativism in politics and in media to a nation-centric way of imagining society. This nation-centric approach to society naturalizes the nation-state as political landscape and the citizen as political actor. I examine contemporary cases such as the 2006 pro-immigration reform marches, news coverage of undocumented immigrant detention centers, participation of Latinas/os in the Iraqi war, nativism in mainstream media, popular shows like Ugly Betty, and issues of rights regarding Spanish language media.
I am currently writing a third book tentatively titled Trafficking: Media, Violence, and the Dark Side of Mobilities. This book wrestles with the way Mexican drug violence has shaped the national and transnational public sphere and culture. The book shows links between the violence and new artistic forms and media practices that confront or, complexly, support the violence. In addition to exploring relevant cultural expressions, Trafficking investigates the unusual threats that violence and narco-cultures place on the nation-state and the liberalism that sustains it. Unlike challenges to the state coming from politically recognized social dynamics, such as social movements, emancipation projects, revolutions, and terrorism, drug violence and narco-culture have no recognizable political goals and yet, as the case of Mexico shows, they have demonstrable effects on the public sphere and politics.
My professional commitments include involvement with the National Communication Association (NCA) and the Society of Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS). In NCA, I am the Past-Chair of the Latino Communication Studies Division and Past-Chair of the La Raza Caucus. In SCMS, I am co-chair of the Latino Caucus. I also serve in different editorial boards.