Professor Yesika Ordaz
Assistant Professor • Associate Chair of Undergraduate Studies
Chicanx / Latinx Studies

Office Location: Ketchum 146

Pronouns: she / her / hers



Ph.D., University of California, Davis - American History, 2017
M.A., University of California, Davis - American History, 2014
M.A., California State University, Fullerton - American Studies, 2011 
B.A., University of California, Santa Barbara - History, Women's Studies, Global Studies, 2008

Research Interests

Chicanx/Latinx history, US/Mexico border studies, radical social movements, migration and migrant politics, labor history, the carceral state, the detention and deportation regime, food justice, and BIPOC veganisms

Jessica Ordaz is an Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. She grew up in Northern California to Mexican parents from Purepero, Michoacán. Ordaz became a first generation college student at UC Santa Barbara triple majoring in Women’s Studies, History, and Global Studies. She received her doctorate from the University of California Davis in American History. During the 2017-2018 academic year, Ordaz was the Andrew W. Mellon Sawyer Seminar postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington, which focused on comparative racial capitalism. Her first book, The Shadow of El Centro: A History of Migrant Incarceration and Solidarity, was released in March 2021. Her second project will explore the multifaceted history of veganism and plant based foods throughout the Americas, focusing on colonization, food politics, and social justice. This research will illuminate the wider and transnational history of Latinx veganism and how communities of color have engaged with questions of animal, human, and plant relations for centuries.

Selected Publications


Ordaz, Jessica. The Shadow of El Centro: A History of Migrant Incarceration and Solidarity (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2021).

Edited Volume

Arturo J. Aldama and Jessica Ordaz. Resistance and Abolition in the Borderlands: Confronting Trump’s Reign of Terror, Under contract with the University of Arizona Press. 

Refereed Articles

Ordaz, Jessica, “AIDS Knows No Borders”: Testimonies of HIV/AIDS, Exclusion, and Migrant Detention.” Radical History Review, Issue 140 (May 2021): 175-185. 

Ordaz, Jessica, “La Lucha Obrera No la Para la Frontera (There Are No Borders in the Workers’ Struggle): Jose Medina, Transborder Organzing, and the Carceral State.” California History 1, May 2021; 98 (2) 3-23.

Ordaz, Jessica, “Migrant Detention Archives: Histories of Pain and Solidarity.” Southern California Quarterly, Vol. 102, No. 3, pp. 250-273.

Ordaz, Jessica, “Protesting Conditions Inside El Corralon: Immigration Detention, State Repression, and Transnational Migrant Politics in El Centro, California.” Journal of American Ethnic History 38 (2): 65-93.

Book Reviews

Jessica Ordaz, "A Place at the Nayarit: How a Mexican Restaurant Nourished a Community.” Journal of American Ethnic History, Vol 42, No. 4. University of Illinois Press, 2023. 

Jessica Ordaz, “Caging Borders and the Carceral States.” Journal of American Ethnic History, Vol. 39 University of Illinois Press, 2020.  

Jessica Ordaz, “Walling In and Walling Out,” Western Historical Quarterly, Vol. 52, Issue 3, Oxford University Press, 2021.


Ordaz, Jessica. “The Detention and Deportation Regime as a Conduit of Death: Memorializing and Mourning Migrant Loss” in a Field Guide to White Supremacy. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2021. 

Ordaz, Jessica. “Latinx Veganism.” The American Historian: Food History, Winter, 2022. 


Ordaz, Jessica. “Migrant Detention Centers have a Long History of Medical Neglect and Abuse.” The Washington Post, 2020.

Ordaz, Jessica and Alejandra Portillos. “Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s #Pride tweet conceals a violent history.” The Washington Post, 2021.