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Karma R. Chávez

CWGS Core Teaching FacultyPh.D., Arizona State University

Chair, Mexican American and Latina_o Studies
Karma R. Chávez



My scholarship is primarily informed by queer of color theory and women of color feminism. Methodologically, I am a rhetorical critic who utilizes textual and field-based methods. I am interested in studying social movement building, activist rhetoric, and coalitional politics. My work emphasizes the rhetorical practices of groups marginalized within existing power structures, but I also attend to rhetoric produced by powerful institutions and actors about marginalized folks and the systems that oppress them (e.g., immigration system, prisons etc.).

In 2013, I published my first book, Queer Migration Politics: Activist Rhetoric and Coalitional Possibilities, which examines coalition building at the many intersections of queer and immigration politics in the contemporary United States. In 2019, I published a book of interviews I conducted related to Palestine while hosting a radio show on WORT-FM in Madison, Wisconsin. That book is called Palestine on the Air 

I have co-edited two volumes, Text + Field: Innovations in Rhetorical Method and Standing in the Intersection: Feminist Voices, Feminist Practices in Communication Studies. Two co-edited volumes are forthcoming: Queer and Trans Migrations: Dynamics of Illegalization, Detention, and Deportation (with Eithne Luibhéid, U of Illinois Press) and Keywords for Gender and Sexuality Studies (with Kyla Tompkins, Aren Aizura, Aimee Bahng, Mishuana Goeman, and Amber Musser, NYU Press). 

My new book, The Borders of AIDS: Race, Quarantine, and Resistance will be released from the University of Washington Press in spring 2021. The Borders of AIDS centers citizenship and immigration status to tell a story about how HIV/AIDS became an opportunity for powerful people in the US to enact "alienizing logic" against migrants, Black folks, and others. It also shows how people fought back.

With M. Adams, I am working on a collection of essays about our community-university collaborations in Madison, Wisconsin called, After Ferguson: Black, Queer, Feminist Experiments Against Police and Jails. Links to copies of most of my academic writing are here.



WGS 335 • Queer Migrations

46200 • Fall 2021
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM GEA 114
CD (also listed as MAS 335M)

Please check back for updates.

WGS 393 • Queer Migrations

44949 • Fall 2019
Meets T 3:30PM-6:30PM GWB 1.130
(also listed as MAS 392)

Interdisciplinary topics relating to Women's and Gender Studies.  Seats restricted to WGS MA and Portfolio students during early registration.  Check cross-listings for home departments and originating field of study.

MAS 392 • Interpretive Methods: Mals

40637 • Fall 2018
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM GWB 1.130

Please check back for updates.

WGS 335 • Queer Migrations

46959 • Spring 2017
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM BUR 208
CD (also listed as MAS 374)


This course is designed to introduce students to key theories, trends and perspectives within the contemporary field of study loosely categorized as “queer migration,” with a primary (though not sole) focus on the context of Latinx communities and the United States. This course will consider both historical and contemporary examples that reveal the complex relationships between and among race, gender, sexuality, citizenship, belonging, and borders within the contexts of global capitalism, settler colonialism, and transnational relationships among nation-states.


  1. To have a working understanding key theoretical concepts, including but not limited to: citizenship, globalization, neo-liberalism, belonging, diaspora, queer, borders, militarization, mobility and im/migration
  2. To have a clear conceptualization of how racialized sexuality and gender have been and continue to be integral to immigration processes
  3. To learn about the identities, experiences and political activism of queer migrants


1. Luibhéid, Eithne. Entry Denied: Controlling Sexuality at the Border. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002.

2. Cantú Jr, Lionel. The Sexuality of Migration: Border Crossings and Mexican Immigrant Men. Edited by Nancy A. Naples and Salvador Vidal-Ortiz. New York: New York University Press, 2009.

3. Rand, Erica. The Ellis Island Snow Globe. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005.

4. Peña, Susana. Oye Loca: From the Mariel Boatlift to Gay Cuban Miami. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013.

5. Chávez, Karma R. Queer Migration Politics: Activist Rhetoric and Coalitional Possibilities. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2013.

6. Decena, Carlos Ulises. Tacit Subjects: Belonging and Same-Sex Desire among Dominican Immigrant Men.  Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011.   


1. Blog Responses (50 pts possible):  5 times throughout the semester, you will be asked to write short (150-200 word) responses to course readings. These responses should be thought provoking and designed to help facilitate in-class discussion. You will sign up for dates during the first week of class.

2. Participation (25 pts possible): People learn and contribute in different ways. The following will count for participation points: Relevant in-class comments, discussions with me in my office about class materials, emails sent to me about class materials, interesting artifacts brought to class as to enhance everyone’s understanding of a topic. On average, you will want to participate at least twice a week to earn an A or a B.

3. Short Papers (100 pts possible): You will write two 4-5 page papers.

a. Migration Artifact Analysis – analyze a piece of migration rhetoric (e.g., speech, letter, manifesto, statement, image, poster, song, photo, art etc.) (50 pts)

b. Interview Analysis – interview someone in your life who has migrated, transcribe the interview, and analyze it for key themes (50 pts)

4. Final Exam (75 pts possible): Students will be given a final exam where they will be asked to synthesize course readings.

WGS 393 • Queer Latinidades

47153 • Fall 2016
Meets W 5:00PM-8:00PM MEZ 1.104
(also listed as MAS 392)

Interdisciplinary topics relating to Women's and Gender Studies.  Seats restricted to WGS MA and Portfolio students during early registration.  Check cross-listings for home departments and originating field of study.

Curriculum Vitae

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