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September 28, 2017

“Why Oregon should care about Puerto Rico”

Ethnic Studies professor, and author of Our Caribbean Kin – Race and Nation in the Neoliberal Antilles, Dr. Alaí Reyes-Santos authored an opinion editorial in the Register Guard newspaper September 28, 2017, “Why Oregon should care about Puerto Rico”.

“Puerto Rico is an archipelago in the Caribbean and a U.S. territory since 1898. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, serve in the U.S. military and have contributed to the economic growth and defense of the United States. Yet most Americans on the mainland ignore Puerto Rico’s existence and its significant place in U.S. history.

This is dangerous at a time when Category 4 Hurricane Maria has left the island and the U.S. Virgin Islands devastated — without electricity or water; with limited access to food, water, medicines and transportation; with thousands of people displaced from their homes; and with floods and ruptured dams that threaten its most vulnerable populations. Public health and safety are compromised more by the minute.

As a friend stated: “I have supplies for a week for me, my mom and my grandmother who are elderly and require medical attention. Diesel is running out. I will have to go out in a week. But where? And will I find what I need? Everything is chaos and desperation.” Why should Oregonians care?

Why should we call our representatives in Congress to ask for urgent relief and multiyear commitments for the economic recovery of Puerto Rico? Here are a few reasons.

1) People’s lives are in immediate danger — especially children, the elderly, people needing medical attention, those who lost everything, and those who are trapped in their houses.

2) As Oregon representatives seek aid in the wake of damage produced by wildfires and climate change in Oregon, they may face roadblocks similar to those encountered by those advocating for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. We can set precedents that support assistance to multiple locations at once.

3) A strong Puerto Rican community in Oregon contributes to the state’s educational, legal, medical, environmental and public service sectors. This community should be supported right now. We are Oregonians, too.

4) Puerto Rico has no voting representative in Congress, which means that it needs the advocacy of others. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens who can vote in presidential elections only when living on the mainland, not in the islands.

5) We owe it to Puerto Rico. Why? The current crisis is the product of long-term U.S. policies that have left the archipelago in dire economic circumstances and with serious infrastructure problems. Yet Puerto Rico has provided the United States with multiple opportunities to

grow economically, test foreign policy and further defense agendas.

Puerto Rico served as a strategic post of the U.S. armed forces during both world wars, as the testing ground for military interventions — including the Gulf War — and as an experimental site for explosives and weapons that have left significant sites uninhabitable and polluted.

U.S. health authorities initially tested the birth control pill on Puerto Rican women who were not aware of the experiment and at times were left infertile.

Puerto Ricans provided significant farm and factory labor in the northeastern U.S. and other areas in the mid-20th century. For most of the 20th century, U.S. textile, pharmaceutical and other companies were exempted from taxes and benefited from a workforce that had been displaced by U.S. economic development policies. For many U.S. corporations, Puerto Rico was the testing ground of sweatshop manufacturing models of production now employed throughout Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia.

Today, Puerto Ricans continue to contribute — serving on the Supreme Court, in universities and in the armed forces, among other institutions.

After the federal minimum wage was guaranteed for Puerto Ricans in the 1970s and tax exemptions were lifted in the 1990s, factories began to leave the island at an accelerated pace. For more than a decade, an extraordinary economic crisis has entailed large layoffs by government agencies, and, in 2016, bankruptcy and a fiscal control agency to which the president has assigned all appointees with almost no input from Puerto Ricans.

Puerto Rico now has one of the highest unemployment rates in the United States (10.1 percent) and is seeing an exodus of young professionals seeking opportunities on the mainland. That exodus may increase as living conditions are becoming unbearable and dangerous for many.

Puerto Ricans continue to imagine other possibilities. Many are questioning measures that would disproportionately harm low-income and middle-class populations, such as the privatization of the public university system. There have been new investments in local agriculture by young people seeking sustainable ways of producing food, protecting natural resources and increasing food security. And eco-tourism has become a site of creative endeavors to support the local economy.

We owe those young people an opportunity to survive this natural disaster and succeed. We do not know when Oregon youth may need others to advocate for them.”

Alaí Reyes-Santos, an associate professor of ethnic studies at the University of Oregon, is originally from Puerto Rico and has been an Oregonian since 2005.

May 30, 2017


Friday, June 2, 2017 • 4:00–6:00 p.m.

Connect with fellow Ethnic Studies alumni, students, faculty, and friends at our first gathering of the entire department! Enjoy happy hour and hors d’oeuvres as you reconnect with classmates, professors, and expand your network of Ethnic Studies contacts. This event is sponsored by the UO Ethnic Studies Department and the UO Alumni Association.

The Ethnic Studies Department wants to hear from you! Please take this short survey to tell us what you are up to and how we can better connect with you.


White Stag Block
370 NW Couch St 
Portland OR 97209 


$5 admission
Price includes one drink ticket and hors d’oeuvres. 
Bonus for UOAA members: an extra drink ticket!

Click here or call 800-245-ALUM to register for this event. 


For additional information, please contact Daniel HoSang, Ethnic Studies Department head, or Camille Ogden, BA ’06, at

June 28, 2016

Congratulations Professor Daniel HoSang

Professor Daniel HoSang receives a teaching honor. He is this year’s recipient of the UO’s Williams Fellowship.

Known for his ability to “mobilize resources across multiple schools and departments”,  HoSang is praised for being a skilled and engaging educator by both his colleagues and his students. He led the charge for the Justice, Difference, and Inequality course cluster and has redesigned and created numerous classes, including the Hip Hop and the Politics of Race First-Year Interest Group, which uses hip-hop and rap music to offer insights into race, gender and sexuality and has earned a reputation as one of the “most popular and effective” interest groups.

“Professor HoSang’s lectures are consistently fun, intellectually challenging and original,” said Loren Kajikawa, associate professor in the School of Music and Dance.

In addition to being a skilled educator, HoSang is also known for his impressive accomplishments and reputation as a scholar. With more than a dozen notable publications, he’s recognized as a leader in American studies, critical race studies, ethnic studies, history and political science.

He is also known for his ability to secure interdisciplinary academic opportunities for students and faculty. HoSang has brought many lecturers, conferences and even a Grammy-award winning band to Eugene to enhance the educational offerings at the UO.

“The diversity and number of high-quality events that professor HoSang has brought to campus is truly breathtaking,” Kajikawa said.

The Williams program awards $5,000 to each recipient and $5,000 to their department to bolster the learning experience of undergraduates. The recipients are selected by a presidential advisory group comprised of faculty who have been recognized as “some of the university’s best teachers.”

The Williams Fellowships were established by the Tom and Carol Williams Fund for Undergraduate Education to recognize and support exceptional and collaborative professors. Williams Fellows are known for their commitment to undergraduate education and for their inventive and interdisciplinary approach to teaching.

By Emily Halnon, University Communications

May 23, 2016

Graduate Teaching Fellow

MeCherri was awarded the Underrepresented Minority Dissertation Fellowship at Middle Tennessee State University beginning fall of 2016.  The purpose of the Underrepresented Minority Dissertation Fellowship Program is to enhance diversity in research, teaching, and service at MTSU through the recruitment of underrepresented minority graduate students from across the country who are completing dissertation research.  Fellows will teach one course each semester in an area related to their academic preparation and the need of the department hosting the fellow. Fellows will be expected to devote significant time to the completion of the dissertation. This fellowship also provides fellows with a faculty mentor.  Support for research, professional travel, and other related expenses is provided, along with a comprehensive benefits package that includes health, dental, and life insurance, retirement savings programs, employee assistance programs, educational assistance programs, and sick leave.

Congratulations Anna Nakano-Baker

Ethnic Studies Alumni Anna Nakano-Baker was admitted to the University of Washington’s Library and Information Science 2016 graduate cohort at the Seattle Campus. Anna expects to graduate in the winter of 2018, at which point she will seek e-1mployment in the Portland area, Oregon, or the larger NW region.

Anna hopes to specialize in historical archival or academic librarianship. She is excited by Washington’s course offerings regarding diversity and cultural inclusion in archiving, as well as the number of scholarships encountered,  focusing on promoting the inclusion of under-represented ethnic groups in archival and librarianship. Library and Information Science is currently and traditionally a very white practice, and I am encouraged to see the school and regional professional groups concerting efforts to change that.
April 27, 2016

What is Racism?

ES 101 Summer Flyer-2

ES 101 Intro to Ethnic Studies

Summer Term


This class is designed to introduce students to the important concepts, theories, andframeworks central to the study of race (and other intersecting identities such as gender, class, and sexuality) in American life.  We will explore concepts such as racialization, the development of race a s a social category, the deep history  of contemporary racial formations, and social movements of various individuals and communities that have challenged the status quo in a racist society.


November 3, 2015

Congratulations Alai Reyes-Santos

Professor Reyes-Santos was promoted to Associate Professor with indefinite tenure. She also received the Ersted Award for Excellence in Teaching. Her book, Our Caribbean Kin: Race and Nation in the Neolineral Antilles was published by Rutgers University Press in the Critical Caribbean Studies Series. To add to her accolades, she received the 2015 Guy Alexandre Paper Prize for her paper, “The Emancipated Children: Transcolonial Kinship in the Nineteenth Century Antilles at the Latin American Studies Association Conference.

September 26, 2014

Brian Klopotek

Brian Klopotek’s new book, which he co-edited with Brenda Child of the University of Minnesota, was released in May 2014. Titled Indian Subjects: Hemispheric Perspectives on the History of Indigenous Education, the book includes contributions from scholars from a wide range of disciplines and backgrounds to remap the history of indigenous education through different regions and eras.


Alumni who took Klopotek’s History of Native American Education class will be familiar with the devastating history of federal boarding schools for Native peoples.  The lessons learned from these histories demonstrate the enormous impact of Anglo settler colonialism and assimilationism on Native people, just as they document multiple Native responses. But even at its peak in the first half of the 20th century, the federal boarding school system accounted for only half of the Indian students in the United States. Klopotek and Child began talking ten years ago about what other kinds of information were missing from the literature on indigenous education, and what kinds of essays they would like to have available for classes on the history of Native American education.

While there is ample material available on boarding schools in the United States and Canada between 1875 and World War II, it is much harder to find material on education outside the boarding school walls, outside the area between Arizona and the Upper Midwest, outside the classic boarding school era, and outside of the English settler states.  They had never found any material comparing indigenous educational histories in Latin American and Anglo North American nations.  And while there had been significant analysis of gender in indigenous education, issues of sexual identity and issues of race outside of the Indian-white dyad were virtually absent, as well.  They set out in search of scholars doing pathbreaking work that would begin to fill in some of these gaps and point to exciting new directions for future research.  Some they found already doing this work, and others they cajoled into doing it.

The essays in Indian Subjects push beyond the boarding schools, into an expansive range of indigenous communities, indigenous intellectual circles, and indigenous homes, to make a critical intervention into how we think about indigenous educational histories.  Changing the historical narrative of indigenous education to be multisited and multiscaled—even just shifting the terms from Indian to indigenous and back again—reshapes the parameters of the discussion.  When we envision this field more broadly to include Indian education in the southern United States under Jim Crow, indigenous education in Alaska, in California, in Hawai’i and other Pacific Islands, and in Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, and elsewhere in Latin America, new information and new patterns come to light.  Some of the essays in Indian Subjects are about boarding and residential school history, but the book is designed to open new doors for conversations about less familiar subjects.  The volume pushes toward more hemispheric and global conversations, fostering a critically neglected scholarly dialogue that has too often been limited by regional and national boundaries.

The book is available for purchase from SAR Press and from Amazon and other major retailers.  A public discussion of the book is being planned for later this year at the University of Oregon.  Details will be posted on the Ethnic Studies Facebook page as they become available.

ES Welcomes Professor Lani Teves

Ethnic Studies is thrilled to welcome Dr. Lani Teves.  She received her Ph.D., from the Program of American Culture at the University of Michigan in 2012, she held a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley from 2012-2013.  Her research areas include Native Pacific Cultural Studies, Native American and Indigenous Studies; Decolonization in the Pacific; Comparative Indigeneity; Native and Women of Color Feminisms; Queer of Color Critique; Queer Indigeneity; Sovereignty; Performance Studies; Indigenous Theory.  She is currently working on her manuscript, Defiant Indigeneity: Kānaka Maoli Performance and the Politics of Aloha.

Q. Could you share  a little about your background and how/why you were driven to academia.
I grew up in Hawai’i across the street from Pearl Harbor, so I understood from early on the power of the twin industries of the military and tourism in Hawai’i. I also grew up in a time when the modern Hawaiian sovereignty movement became very prominent. Many of the leaders of that movement were scholars and activists whose books, speeches, and public performances really inspired me to question what was going on in Hawai’i. I began to wonder, how does someone become a professor?

I was also very active in music and performing. As I got more involved in the local music scene I began to make the connection between the pressures of Hawaiian indigeneity and the constraints it puts on expression and creativity. When I went to community college, Ethnic Studies and Women’s Studies courses really opened up my world and gave me the space to think about these things and to understand how all culture is political. Luckily, professors (in Ethnic Studies!) encouraged me and eventually helped me go to graduate school in Michigan. Haunani-Kay Trask told me that if I didn’t go, she’d beat me up! So, I went and it was the best thing I ever did. I always associated academia with activism and nurturing future generations of rabble-rousers, so here I am!

Q. Could you describe your research and how you got involved/interested in it?
My research is essentially about how indigeneity is performed. I use performance as a framework to analyze how all identities are imposed and maintained, imagined and real. I look specifically at how Native Hawaiian identity is attached to the Hawaiian concept of “aloha” and how it is used to discipline Native Hawaiians into docile Natives in the service of tourism and ongoing occupation. Rather than dismiss Hawaiian investments in “aloha” as being colonized or duped, I examine how Native Hawaiians retain aloha and rearticulate it to center community connectedness and belonging in unexpected places—such as in a freestyle battle or during a drag performance. My manuscript explores these spaces and other kinds of Hawaiian cultural productions, like ghost tours, plays, and short stories. I became interested in these different sites of performance because of my own experiences performing in punk bands and hanging around the non-Hawaiian music scene in Hawai’i when I was younger. These overlooked spaces got me questioning how “Hawaiianness” and “Nativeness” in general is policed by the State and within our own communities.

Q. What are you most looking forward to in terms of your new career here at the UO, and life in Eugene?
I’m really looking forward to building connections between Native Studies and Pacific Islander issues. I want to expose students to a different story about indigeneity, one that is thriving, complex, and global. The fact that the department has a Native Studies minor really speaks to how indigenous issues are not an afterthought here. So, I’m just elated to be part of this vibrant department with faculty that are intellectually engaged and committed to students. I feel very lucky to be in such a welcoming department and I’m excited to contribute to the intellectual life on campus. Off campus, I am hoping to connect with the surrounding communities of color and increase discussions of race and indigeneity in Eugene.

March 24, 2014

Will Work for Justice: ES Alumni in Social Justice Careers

alumn panel

UO Ethnic Studies alumni are playing leadership roles in social justice organizations, government, and education, putting the principles of ethnic studies into practice. On November 15, 2013, seven distinguished  ES alumni returned to campus to participate in a panel titled “Will Work for Justice: ES Alumni in Social Justice Careers.” The panel drew current students and alumni as well as participants from other Oregon campuses who were in Eugene to attend the annual Oregon Students of Color Conference at the UO that weekend.

Panelists discussed the many ways that ethnic studies prepared them to work as organizers, educators, trainers, researchers and advocates, and shared advice with current students about pursing opportunities to join this vibrant field. The panelists included:

ITON UDOSENATA, Principal, Cottage Grove (OR) High School, (ES ’03)–A graduate of North Eugene High School, Iton worked as a teacher and administrator at Willamette High School and in the Springfield School District before being named principal of Cottage Grove High School in 2013.

DIEGO HERNANDEZ, Board of Directors, Reynolds School District, (ES ’10)–Recently elected to a four-year term to the Board of Directors of the Reynolds School District in Portland (his high school alma mater), Diego was also recently named co-director of the Momentum Alliance in Portland.

CARINA MILLER, Former Service Coordinator at Children’s Protective Services for Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, (ES ’11)–Carina handled Assisted Guardianship and child abuse and neglect cases and ran the Independent Living Program for the federally recognized Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs (OR).

JEN LLERAS, Trainer and Organizer, Western States Center (ES ’08)–Jen collaborates with dozens of community-based organizations across the Northwest to build a progressive movement for social, economic, racial and environmental justice.

KYLE WEISMANN-YEE, Project Assistant, McKenzie River Gathering Foundation, (ES ’08)–Kyle works with Oregon’s leading progressive foundation on fundraising, grantmaking, communications, and office management, helping to direct a half-million dollars in grants to community based organizations every year.

KHANH LE, Strategic Alliances Coordinator, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Portland. (ES ’06)–Khanh works with one of the nation’s leading public employee unions to build long-term partnerships between union members and community-based organizations.

NATE GULLEY, Civic Engagement Coordinator, Oregon Voice, (ES ’08)–Nate builds the political engagement capacities of community and advocacy organizations across the state, with a particular emphasis on bridging the gap between organizing and technology.

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