MENTAL HEALTH INEQUITIES
My book project, Las Lloronas: Depresión, Mujeres, and the Sociological Imagination, stands at the intersection of lived experience and the various discourses about depression in the lives of U.S. Latinx women of Mexican descent. I argue that depression is part of a genealogy of a complex interplay of emotional states, U.S. hegemonic femininities and other, often-contradictory, gendered impositions, collective sentiments rooted in specific socio-historical contexts, and struggles and anxieties of embodying intersectional subjectivities. This critical approach positions depression as an affective and embodied response to social dispossession, as well as a practice of continually reflecting on the source of one’s psychological pain. Inspired by Anzaldua’s (1987) call to create nuevas teorias (new theories) to better frame experiences defined by the multiple crossing of fronteras, Las Lloronas analyzes the meanings and interpretations of emotional distress attached to depression, and not just experiences associated with its’ biomedicalized conceptualization. In five data chapters, Las Lloronas puts forward a conceptual model that examines depression as an affective and embodied positionality and practice. Each chapter outlines a component of this model to illuminate the roles various social mechanisms have in shaping the experience of depression.
ARTS-BASED RESEARCH (ABR) METHODS IN HEALTH SCIENCES EDUCATION
I am overseeing several community-engaged projects* that incorporate arts-based research methods to examine various socio-cultural inequities in various communities in the Rochester, MN area.
In collaboration with Professor Yuko Taniguchi: One of these projects — Counterspaces — is a community participatory art collaboration between the University of Minnesota Rochester (UMR) and the Rochester Art Center (RAC). The idea of Counterspaces emerged from our experiences as Women of Color scholars and educators providing emotional support (via art-based activities) to our Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) and Black and other People of Color (BIPOC) students in response to our proximity to racialized violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) and Black and other People of Color (BIPOC) in our state of Minnesota. The artwork highlighted in this current year-long exhibit was and continues to be created by UMR and UMN BIPOC students.
*Some of these research activities are supported by funds from the Office of Community Engagement to Advance Research and Community Health (CEARCH), Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI)’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (Award Number UL1TR002494.)
In collaboration with The Village Community Garden and Learning Center, I am the principal academic investigator on a campus-community participatory learning initiative to understand the role of organized garden projects in decreasing food insecurity and facilitating resilience in diverse groups in Rochester. Using a mixed-method approach, we are examining the experiences of two communities in Rochester: current and new growers with VCGLC plots, and University of Minnesota-Rochester (UMR) students who currently supplement their vegetable and fruit intake with the help of the student food pantry. The community garden serves as a community learning laboratory for several UMR initiatives.