I completed the master's program in Latin American Studies and the doctoral program in folklore at Indiana University. In my research and teaching, I explore relationships between folklore studies and other areas of inquiry, including anthropology, ethnic studies, history and religious studies.
Since 2001, I have been involved in oral history and ethnographic research in Latino communities in central Indiana. In this research, I have recorded narratives of immigration and religious change that Mexican immigrants share in Catholic churches, and documented immigrants’ engagement with national political movements.
In 2013, I began a similar research project in northeastern Alabama, with initial support from the Alabama Folklife Association. Through this project, I have sought to document the ways in which Latino immigrants have created vibrant, resourceful communities, and have contributed to the economies of northeastern Alabama.
In 2006, 2009 and 2010, I conducted ethnographic research in faith-based and twelve-step drug treatment programs in northeastern Mexico, near the Texas-Mexico border. Through interviews with men and women from different communities, I traced the development of faith-based and twelve-step programs amid the drug wars. I also observed treatment sessions and recorded interviews with men recovering from drug addiction and alcoholism, and focused on how they performed narratives of recovery.
More recently, because of an article that I wrote about Mexico’s Museum of Drugs and narcocultura, I have become interested in developing projects about visual displays and the functions of visual displays in both museums and online media. I am especially interested in how visual displays are related to self-reform projects, and how they contribute to an appreciation of cultural and ethnic diversity.
Before moving to Kentucky, I taught courses in folklore, Latin American studies, Latino studies, anthropology and history at different institutions in Texas and Georgia.
“Visualizing narcocultura: Violent Media, the Mexican Military’s Museum of Drugs, and Transformative Culture," Visual Anthropology Review 30: 2 (2014).
“In Search of Spirituality in Northeastern Mexico: Religious Change and Masculinity among Addicts in Recovery," in Gender and Power in Contemporary Spirituality: Ethnographic Approaches, eds. Anna Fedele and Kim Knibbe, 195-209. New York: Routledge, 2013.
“On the Border: Faith-Based Initiatives and Pentecostal Praxis in Brownsville, Texas," in Not By Faith Alone: Social Services, Social Justice, and Faith-Based Organizations in the U.S., eds. Julie Adkins, Laurie Occhipinti, and Tara Hefferan, 51-68. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2010.
“Waging the War on Drugs: Neoliberal Governance and the Formation of Faith-Based Organizations in Urban Mexico," in Bridging the Gaps: Faith-Based Organizations, Neoliberalism and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, eds. Tara Hefferan, Julie Adkins and Laurie Occhipinti, 35-50. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2009.