Graduate Students

Students in the Ph.D. program in Comparative Ethnic Studies are interested in a broad range of topics, which they study using a variety of theoretical frameworks and research methodologies.

Awon AtuireAwon Atuire
Awon Atuire is our first Ph.D. candidate in the Comparative Ethnic Studies program. He received his B.A. in English Literature, M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and graduate certificate in Comparative Ethnic Studies from the University of Colorado Boulder. His area of focus in the Ph.D. program is Africana history, culture, and literature. His dissertation project, "Poetics of Place and Space in West African Fiction," offers an intersectional analysis of Africana peoples' aspirational re-spatializations of the cartographies of Atlantic slavery, colonization, imperialism, and globalization in West African fiction. In addition, he is currently researching the oral tradition, memory-making, and heritage tourism in northern Ghana. A spoken word artist and a writer, Awon's book length manuscript, "Broken Horn Bull" is a collection of short stories and essays.


Wayne FreemanWayne Freeman
My research uses varied methods and generally revolves around popular culture and discourses as they relate to the the reproduction of and/or resistance to existing hierarchies and boundaries of race, class, gender, sexuality, and power. Areas of interest include Chican@ culture and history, Hip Hop studies, masculinites, interethnic relations, mixed race studies, sports, and social change and social justice, among others.

Deanne GrantDeanne Grant
My research is a qualitative study on urban Native American women's understanding of gender roles and responsibilities. Native American women's perspectives are rarely centered in academia, but in an effort to decolonize my academic endeavors, my research aims to center these voices and perspectives. Early findings show urban Native American women possess a unique understanding of our world rooted in cultural interpretations. Urban Native American women possess great awareness of their gender specific roles and accompanying responsibilities to themselves, their families, their communities, and the future of our world.

Amani HusainAmani Husain
Amani recently graduated with her MA in communication focusing on rhetoric from the University of Colorado Boulder. Beginning Fall 2015 she will be a PhD student in the Department of Ethnic Studies at CU-Boulder serving as a Graduate Teaching Assistant for the course Crime & Society. Through critical, intersectional scholarship Amani's work seeks to gain a deeper sense as to how discursive identifications and affiliations work to create affective and material conditions that both close and open spaces for certain bodies. She works at the intersections of rhetoric, critical race studies, and critical affect studies.

Raúl MelgozaRaúl Melgoza
My research focuses on the ontological and epistemic manifestations that arise out of Chican@ decolonial theories and praxes. I am interested in how Chican@ decolonial performances are in dialogue with Indigenous decolonial efforts within the U.S. settler state, and the comparative approaches surrounding discourses of sovereignty, illegality, race, citizenship, and recognition.

Cassandra Gonzalez

My research examines the phenomenon of domestic human trafficking utilizing and intersectional criminological framework. Within this research, I focus on the experiences of Black individuals as both victims and perpetrators of trafficking and how their intersecting identities of race, class, gender, and sexuality may interact with trafficking experience and the criminal justice system. My areas of interest include Black Feminist Thought/Black Feminisms and knowledges, police/community interaction with a gender lens, race and violence against women and girls, criminological theory, social justice, and anti-trafficking activism.

Natasha Myhal

Natasha, a citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, recently graduated from the University of Kansas with her Master’s in Indigenous Studies. Her research draws on Native American ethnobotany, Indigenous studies, and policy of medicinal plant harvest on United States federal lands. Her focus area for the PhD program is ethnobotany, traditional ecological knowledge, and incorporating Native American plant knowledge and harvest practices into future policies and programs for federal land agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service or the National Park Service.

Shawn O'Neal

My research examines the processes of colonization and settler colonialism and its effects on cultural components such as visual art and music. Through critical and intersectional scholarship, ethnomusicology and varied methodologies, my analyses focuses on the manners in which issues within race, sexism, feminism, gender, and social justice can be engaged through artistic constructions and expressions.

Alejandra Portillos

Alejandra is a native of Colorado Springs and has a BA in Transborder Chicana/o Latino/a Studies with an emphasis in Media and Expressive culture from Arizona State University. She also has her MA in Sociology from University of Colorado Colorado Springs. She is active in the broader community through volunteering with various immigration and human rights organizations. Her MA research focused on Latinx undocumented immigrants’ experiences while detained in the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) detainment facilities. She also analyzed the collateral consequences of friends and family members of detained or deported immigrants. Her research advocates for fundamental changes of deportation and detainment procedures that negatively affect Latinx communities. She plans to continue her immigrant research while working on her doctorate focusing on the LGBTQAI+ Latinx community and their experiences with I.C.E.