Ralina JosephRalina Joseph I am an associate professor in UW’s Department of Communication and adjunct associate professor in the Departments of American Ethnic Studies and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies.  I received my Ph.D. and M.A. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, San Diego and B. A. in American Civilization from Brown University.  My first book, Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial(Duke University Press, 2013), critiques anti-Black racism in mixed-race African American representations in the decade leading up to Obama’s 2008 election.  I am currently working on my second book project, Screening Strategic Ambiguity: Black Women, Television Culture and the Post-Racial Dance, an examination of African American women’s negotiation of “post-identity,” the ostensibly “after” moment of racism and sexism, and race- and gender-based identities.
LeiLani NishimeLeiLani Nishime My research focuses on Asian American mass media. I study the often-racist images of Asian Americans in dominant media as well as the frequently-resistant images independently produced by and for Asian Americans. My work has specifically addressed the representation of mixed race Asian Americans, race in science fiction, and, more recently, Asian diasporic graphic novels, among other topics. While Asian Americans remain my central research interest, I always situate the production of Asian American cultures in the context of other identity categories such as gender, sexuality, and nationality.
Andrea Otanez Headshot-0011Andrea Otanez The study of difference is central to my academic and publishing career, especially as it relates to Chicano representation, history, cultures and current events. As an instructor of journalism and communication, I strive to ensure that my students understand the power and influence of media while encouraging them to develop strategies to be aware of and interrupt implicit bias and stereotyping. I am also interested in how the conventions of news — regardless of the platform — lead to inaccurate and unfair representations of difference.
Carmen Gonzalez I have conducted community-based and participatory research over the last 10 years. I primarily investigate the communication practices of immigrant and minority populations in the contexts of health promotion and civic engagement. In my more recent work, I have examined how communication ecologies—networks of communication resources—impact health care among Latinas and how community assets can be leveraged to address health disparities. At the UW, I explore how technology shapes the lives of individuals and families, and then develop strategies to promote technology as a tool for empowerment. Through engaged scholarship and teaching, I hope to help bridge university and community efforts to promote sustainable social change.

Current CDRG Graduate Students

Anjuli BrekkeAnjuli Brekke My doctoral research explores the political power of sharing personal narratives, both online and within situated communities, to facilitate listening across difference. My dissertation deals with the affective political potential and limitations of digital oral stories to provide a platform for marginalized communities to have a voice. This project employs mixed methods, using textual analysis to trace the affective dispersal of oral stories online and community-based fieldwork to analyze the potential embedded in the process of recording, editing and sharing digital stories within a situated community.
CortezElizabeth Cortez Elizabeth came to the University of Washington to study visual representations of race, gender and sexuality in new media. In particular, she explores the ways in which the Internet provides possibilities for resistance, but not without significant barriers. To do this she analyzes the kinds of online spaces Latinas inhabit, and the ways in which Google search results disrupt or maintain dominant representations of latinidad.
Marcus Johnson Masters of Cultural Studies Graduate student Marcus Johnson won a prestigious Mary Gates Scholarship for the summer of 2012, winter and spring quarters of 2013. Expanding on his accomplishments as a Global Studies major, and Human Rights minor, Johnson has worked with IAS faculty member Benjamin Gardner on “The Multi Dimensions of Blackness: Cultural Hegemony in the United States and Abroad.” Johnson’s research stems from a “disquieting” encounter he had while visiting family in the Dominican Republic that catalyzed his interest in different formations of “blackness” in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and the United States. Johnson’s comparative project will situate issues of race within the domestic dynamics of the United States and the international aspects that contribute to the lives of Afro-Dominicans, Afro-Haitians, and Afro-Americans today. As a Mary Gates Scholar, recent Graduate Opportunity Program fellow (GOP), and current research assistant for The Center for Communication, Difference, and Equity, Johnson looks forward to continuing his research on key issues in the Dominican Republic. Currently, Johnson continues to expand his academic career as a PhD student in the University of Washington Seattle Communication Program. As a Mary Gates Scholar, and Undergraduate Research Leader alum, he will join a unique community of other UW leaders, researchers, and alumni.
UW Campus Spring Cherry BlossomsKai Kohlsdorf I primarily focus on media created within communities operating as collective care, specifically in trans and disability communities.  I  utilize work created by trans and disability communities of performance artists, porn actors, and activists who interrupt haunting expectations of violence with potential for self-love and community care through a reclamation of erotic sexuality. My work intervenes into existing research on Trans Studies, Queer Theory, Disability Studies, and Cultural Studies to juxtapose the haunting of medical and social violence of sexuality for trans and disability communities with the possibilities of cultural reclamation.
Meshell Sturgis I received my M.A. in Cultural Studies from the University of Washington – Bothell and my B.A. in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I have been awarded the GO-MAP Presidential Dissertation Fellowship for the first and last years of my doctoral studies. I am concurrently a student in the Science, Technology, and Society Studies Graduate Certificate program. My research looks at race and multiracial identity represented in comix. Cyborgs and hybrid machine/life combinations are fascinating to me as well as conversations around post- (race, class, gender, sexuality, human) ideology in popular media. I engage in and observe women of color creative practices.
Tanya OishiTanya Oishi In my work, I am interested in the reception of transnational media and the ways in which audiences may be able to employ their transnational background in interpreting media texts. I currently look at the filmic representations of the Asian male body and the ways in which the figure performs acts of masculinity and manhood. I employ a transnational perspective in order to move beyond North Atlantic logics to reconsider and reconfigure the ways in which we talk about intersectional lines of nation, race, generation, and gender. Future projects hope to examine these issues of Eurocentrism, transnationality, media, and audiences as they pertain to representations of race on gender on the Internet.
Laura Robles-Calderon I received my BA in Psychology and Communication from the University of Washington. I am a GO-MAP fellowship recipient, which funds my first year of graduate school. Currently I am a first year MA/PhD student interested in researching how intergenerational relationships communicate health information and how technology can be used to help underserved Latinx communities access healthcare information.
Anna Swan As a critical/cultural and feminist scholar, I am interested in the ways in which intersectional identities are articulated in digital spaces. I aim to understand the ways in which individuals utilize creative expression and modes of production to engage with others, and how emotion, vulnerability, and the body are represented online. My previous work has examined the significance of space, place, and embodiment in K-pop fan reaction videos, and I am currently interested in how content creation can function as transformative and decolonial practice. With an undergraduate background in International Studies, I frame much of my work transnationally, and I am continually intrigued by the ways in which affective communities are formed and maintained around new media and popular culture texts.
Victoria ThomasVictoria Thomas I take a critical/cultural perspective by recognizing that cultural practices are intertwined with power. In looking at the intertwining of power and cultural practices, I examine how marginalized groups are represented in media and the implications of these representations. As I also believe that discussion about differences serve the purpose of promoting acceptance and change, it is a key component of my teaching style. My research and teaching goals are further strengthened by my commitment to a critical media pedagogy that interrogates ideologies embedded in media. Seeing my criticism as activistic, critical, and theoretical, I write to contribute to the creation of cultural meaning by illuminating spaces that are available for counter hegemonic texts to emerge.


Vaneesa Au, Ph.D. 2012
Manoucheka Celeste, Ph.D. 2011
Jennifer McClearen, Ph.D 2017
Kristine Mroczek, Ph.D 2016
Madhavi Murty, Ph.D. 2011
Anjali Vats, Ph.D. 2013