Adela C. Licona Ph.D.

Adela C. Licona Ph.D.'s picture
Assistant Professor, English




Modern Languages

Professional Affiliations

National Communication Association

National Council of Teachers of English

National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies

National Women’s Studies Association

Rhetoric Society of America

Feminist Formations (formerly NWSA) Journal Board President, 2009 to present

Future of Minority Studies

Affiliated faculty with LGBT Studies, Mexican American Studies, Women’s Studies

National Women's Studies Association Journal Advisory Board Member, 2007-2010

National Women's Studies Association Journal Board President, 2008-2009


Licona, A.C., (Under Contract, 2011).  Zines In Third Space: Radical Cooperation and Borderlands Rhetoric. SUNY Press: New York.

    Licona, A.C., & Maldonado, M.M., (Revise & Resubmit expected February 2011).  "The Social Production of Im/migrant In/Visibilities: Geographies of Power in 'New' Destinations" Cultural Geographies. (Approximately 30 pgs).

    Licona, A.C., & Soto, S.K., (Forthcoming, Oxford University Press, 2011). "HB 2281: Key Points, Political Implications, and Local Mobilizations,," in Volume 2 Encyclopedia of Latino/as in Politics, Social Movements, and Law, edited by Suzanne Obler and Deena González.

    Soto, S.K., Joseph, M., Licona, A.C., and Gutíerrez, L. (Forthcoming, 2011). "Nativism, Normativity, and Neoliberalism in Arizona: Challenges Inside and Outside the Classroom," With Christina Hanhardt, Transformations, special issue edited by Hiram Perez.

        Crabtree, R.D., Sapp, D.A., & Licona, A.C. (Eds.), (2009).  Feminist Pedagogy: Looking Back to Move Forward.  Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.


    Licona, A.C., (2010).  Solicited Review of Argentina: Stories for a Nation by Amy K. Kaminsky, 2008, and The Woman in the Zoot Suit: Gender, Nationalism, and the Cultural Politics of Memory, by Catherine S. Ramírez, 2009.  Feminist Formations.

    Licona, A.C., (2008).  Solicited Review of Latina Activists across Borders: Women’s Grassroots Organizing in Mexico and Texas by Milagros Peña.  Latino Studies.

    Maldonado, M., & Licona, A.C. (2008).  “Re-thinking Integration as Reciprocal Process: Implications for Research and Practice.” Journal of Latino-Latin American Studies.

    Licona, A.C., (2007).  “Borderlands Peregrinations.” Nóesis: Revista de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades 16 (32).

    Herndl, C., & Licona, A. C. (2007).  “Shifting Agency: Agency, Kairos, and the Possibilities of Social Action.” In M. Zachery & C. Thralls, (Eds.), Communicative Practices in Workplaces and the Professions: Cultural Perspectives on the Regulation of Discourse and Organizations. New York: Baywood Publishing.

    Licona, A. C. (Summer, 2005).  “(B)orderlands’ Rhetorics and Representations: The Transformative Potential of Third-Space Feminist Scholarship and Zines.” National Women’s Studies Association Journal 17(2).

    Carrillo-Rowe, A., & Licona, A.C. (Eds.), (Summer 2005). Special Issue: “Moving Locations: The Politics of Identity in Motion.” National Women’s Studies Association Journal 17(2).

    Licona, A.C., & Carrillo-Rowe, A. (Eds.), (Summer 2005). Special Issue: “After Words: Feminist Praxis as a Bridge Between Theory and Practice.” National Women’s Studies Association Journal 17(2).


Poetry, Dialogues, & Public Performance

    Licona, A.C. and Lee, Jamie A. (2008) Circles of White as part of the Invisible City Project in Tucson, AZ.

    Dernier, Ann, Lee, Jamie A., and Licona, A.C. (2008) On The Plaza Between ~ for Joseph as part of the Invisible City Project in Tucson, AZ.

    Licona, A. C. (2007). “La Migra.” Reprinted in Cafe Revolucion Productions.

    Licona, A. C. (2007).  “Borderlands’ Lullaby: The Song of the Entremundista.” TRIVIA: VOICES OF FEMINISM, Resurrection Issue.

    Jacob, K., & Licona, A. C. (Spring, 2005). “Writing the Waves: A Dialogue on the Tools, Tactics, and Tensions of Feminisms and Feminist Practices over Time and Place.” National Women’s Studies Association Journal 17(1).

    Licona, A. C. (2004). “La Migra.” Sexing the Political: A Journal of Third Wave Feminism on
    Sexuality, 3(1).


Zines in Third Space : Radical Cooperation and Borderlands Rhetoric (This (This

(This manuscript has been designated a semi-finalist in the 2008 First Book Competition in Women and Gender Studies at SUNY Press. I have revised and resubmitted the manuscript and it is presently under consideration at SUNY Press. )

In this work, I explore the politics of articulation and the rhetorical dynamics at play in practices and performances of self and Other representation to demonstrate that we shape, and are shaped by discourses, as well as to reveal the potential for social alliances to produce knowledge, build coalition, inform egalitarian social relationships and practices, and develop agendas for social justice.

Emerging from research I conducted at Duke University’s Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, my work investigates how rhetorical symbols and practices are used to construct, represent, and interpret borderlands contexts—the in-between spaces that are created at intersections, be they material, metaphoric, or discursive.  I theorize borderlands’ rhetorics from a third space perspective, illustrating the potential within third space for building coalitions engaged in social justice agendas. Alternative media emerges as an ideal site of analysis.  While my work identifies borderlands’ rhetorics operating in both academic and nonacademic discourses, I include an in-depth analysis of feminist zines (noncommercial, often self-published magazines) to elucidate third space theory with praxis, to show how third space borderlands’ rhetorics work to challenge dominant (heteronormative) knowledges and practices, and to offer pedagogical applications for those who might be interested in using zines and other community media sources in their classrooms.

The manuscript offers an interdisciplinary and progressive vision of feminist coalition in theory and in practice.  I hope that the interdisciplinary reach of this manuscript, which builds upon scholarship in cultural studies, women’s studies, queer studies, rhetoric, sociology, and even critical geography, will invite wide-ranging opportunities for discussion, as well as yield a broad readership.

The Social Production of Im/migrant Im/mobilities and In/Visibilities: Geographies of Power in ‘New’ Destinations  (Collaboration with Dr. Marta M. Maldonado)

For this project, we engage a critical understanding of space in an analysis of the dynamics unfolding in those contexts that have come to be known as “new immigrant destinations.” We specifically focus on what we call the social production of im/migrant in/visibilities and im/mobilities, the spatialized practices by individuals, families, communities, and institutions, which render migrants visible or invisible, and mobile or immobile, with repercussions for survival, community integration, and political praxis. In this work, we discuss how the regime of deportability that currently operates in the US creates racialized and gendered conditions for in/visibility and im/mobility of heterogeneous Latino/a immigrant populations, and for Latino/as more broadly. We conclude by considering some of the theoretical and political implications of our analysis.

Changing Demographics and Reciprocal Integration: Latino/as in Iowa and Best Practices  (Collaboration with Dr. Marta M. Maldonado)

In new immigrant destinations in the U.S., integration is often conceived and pursued uni-directionally.  It is often conceptualized by members of receiving communities and deployed from established institutional sites.   The assumed role of receiving communities seems to be that of helping immigrants become integrated into “the mainstream.” Scholars and community practitioners are increasingly calling for a re-conceptualization of integration as a dynamic and multidirectional process. I add space to this call because space, like integration, is always dynamic, historically defined, and contested. Studies on spatialized practices are asking who is included, excluded, and displaced or erased from the public realm. In her discussions on space, Massey argues against a one-way-ness and its implied superiority and power. I believe Massey’s emphasis of relational production over one-way-ness has significant implications for new understandings of integration as a spatialized practice that is explicitly distinct from assimilation.  The understanding of the dynamic relationship between integration and space allows us to more fully represent the vibrant and fluid (sometimes unanticipated) nature of demographic and community change in new destinations.  Such re-thinking moves us away from deficit theories to engage an understanding of immigrants as knowledgeable participants and potential agents of change, and as assets for the communities in which they live. By reframing Latino/a immigrants as knowledgeable (informed and active) participants in integration and social change, I, together with my research partner, Dr. Marta M. Maldonado, seek to address the paucity of research on the local benefits of a transforming demographic, from the transformation of cultural practices, to positive institutional change – each with spatialized implications. Our aim is to explore the transformative potential of integration as a set of reciprocal practices that create a dynamic and mutually beneficial relationship between immigrant and non-immigrant populations and the spaces in which they interact.

For an interdisciplinary research project in a small town in Iowa to identify best practices of integration from the diverse perspectives, locations, and lived experiences of Latino/a immigrants, we are using qualitative methodologies to include field observations, in-depth interviews, discourse and textual analysis, and critical social cartography to highlight the ways in which space, identity, and relations are contested and constructed and to better understand how integration is pursued, resisted, imagined, and accomplished especially in the context of new destinations.

In 2005, I was a named fellow at the Center for Excellence in Arts & the Humanities at Iowa State University for a related Interdisciplinary Research Project titled Globalization and Place-Making in Perry, Iowa:  An Exploratory Sociospatial Analysis. In 2006, we were awarded a Diversity Grant from the Office of the Provost at Iowa State University for this cross-disciplinary research project. 

aguamiel: secrets of the agave ~ a documentary film

WATCH NOW! Women's Intercultural Center outreach/fundraising video produced in collaboration with and for the women at the Center. (Nov. 2008)

Undertaken in collaboration with scholars, independent filmmakers, and community members, aguamiel is a scholarly, community-oriented, and creative endeavor committed to the goals of social justice media.

This film focuses on women’s cooperatives and their responses to the unequal effects that globalization imposes and aggravates including growing poverty and ongoing environmental degradation. aguamiel: secrets of the agave is an educational film intended to promote public dialogue that challenges mainstream representations of Mexican and Mexican-origin households, as well as borderlands’ communities. The perspectives and practices that emerge are from people who live along the Juarez/El Paso border. aguamiel: secrets of the agave weaves together women’s stories and everyday practices in a transnational context to show how women are using traditional and contemporary knowledge to move into practices of survival, sustainability, and security.

In New Mexico, Delia and Claudia tell how the Women’s Intercultural Center began as a gathering place to address the isolation that women in poverty and (un)documented immigrant women experience.  They tell how women in their community learned to design and build their Center using discarded, non-biodegradable tires and a rammed-earth method of construction.  Built around “Grandmother Tree,” the Center embodies traditional and contemporary values. Using a circular form of governance, and so both teaching and modeling participatory democracy, the Center has evolved into a community space that houses classes in healing arts, nutrition, organic gardening, micro-enterprise, ESL, tax preparation, and art, as well as a carpentry cooperative, a sewing cooperative, and a commercial kitchen.

In Chihuahua, Mexico, women gather to teach and learn about healing practices, practices of sustainability, health, English, community education, and micro-enterprise.  They share their process of ecological waterless toilet production; from pouring cement molds, plastering, sanding and painting to installation with community classes on hygiene, water conservation and community health.  Tina and Yoli walk us through their colonias, showing the trees they have planted while discussing the grey water filtration system they implemented using wetland grasses, rocks and charcoal. They speak to us about bronchial health and the positive effects of shade and dust control in the desert.  They lead us into greenhouses where they have planted medicinal plants for traditional healing practices. aguamiel documents the reclaiming of traditional healing practices as women make a variety of medicinal salves to address the pressing health concerns of their communities.  Of significance is the teaching of these methods not only to other community members but to young medical school students from the United States as part of a project initiated through the Women’s Intercultural Center in Anthony, NM.  Women’s use of community knowledge here, too, reveals meaningful understandings of life, values, learning, collaboration, community, micro-enterprise, equity, and sustainability.

In its broadest representation, aguamiel: secrets of the agave is a film about the space between two nations – a “third-space” that remains invisible to much of the world. The Mexico/U.S. border is a microcosm of globalization and this film highlights what everyday experts are doing to re-imagine this space and redress practices that have entrenched inequalities and injustices along the border. aguamiel’s highlights community achievement as experienced along both sides of the U.S./Mexico border and reclaims the traditional knowledges that have always been of vital importance to individual households and communities, and their practices of environmental and cultural sustainability as well as economic viability.

Exploring the Relationship Between Action Research and Social Justice Media
As a commitment to the potential for public scholarship to serve as a catalyst for social change, I am committed to collaborating with women from the cooperatives we have filmed who are pursuing social change. We will work with them to conduct community film screenings and lead discussions as a way to generate a small income through honorariums that might, in part, serve their project goals. The film will be a tool for community education --one for them to build coalition in neighboring communities and even in transnational contexts -- to teach about sustainability.  We believe that this is their story and work to represent them as the storytellers in all aspects of production and in our outreach initiative.  Ultimately, this film focuses on quality of life issues and positive social change as it identifies the meaningful collaborations that are transpiring along the U.S./Mexico border to address economic inequality and injustice, to fortify communities, and to represent and promote cultural, environmental, and economic sustainability and literacies. 

This film is a vehicle for fostering the interactions between women in local and transnational contexts.  In highlighting their lived interdependency, it can be an inspiration for students, teachers, and community members to pursue meaningful relationships across borders that can inform praxis as reflected-upon practice, research, and understanding.  Media emerges in our project as a vehicle for coalition-building, public knowledge dissemination, action, and education. Together with my collaborators, I hope to create a model for media-focused coalition-based organizing.  Using a national PBS broadcast as a focal point, we hope to advance community-based solutions to local problems and issues.  Using documentary film as accessible media, we will work with the women from the cooperatives to demonstrate ways to build alliances between people and communities in local and transnational contexts.

Post-Production Plan:
While rough-cuts are being reviewed and revised (2008), we will begin to create our bilingual study guide and organize our Outreach Screening Tour. I believe that through personal stories of positive social change, transformation can happen. The women of aguamiel, informed agents of social change, tell personal stories from both sides of the Mexico/U.S. border and in doing so emerge as theorists and practitioners – everyday experts – of sustainability, literacy, economic development, community health, and community education.  They demonstrate an understanding of the global and local implications, potentials, and (im)possibilities of their situated lived experiences on the border.

This film is a vehicle for fostering the interactions between women in local and transnational contexts.  In highlighting their lived interdependency, it can be an inspiration for students, teachers, and community members to pursue meaningful relationships across borders that can inform praxis as reflected-upon practice, research, and understanding.  Media emerges in our project as a vehicle for coalition-building, public knowledge dissemination, action, and education. Together with my collaborators, I hope to create a model for media-focused coalition-based organizing.  Using a national PBS broadcast as a focal point, we hope to advance community-based solutions to local problems and issues.  Using documentary film as accessible media, we will work with the women from the cooperatives to demonstrate ways to build alliances between people and communities in local and transnational contexts.  

Film Production Team:
Adela C. Licona (Producer/Director/Writer). In 2006 I was awarded a Diversity Grant from the Office of the Provost at Iowa State University for initial production funding for aguamiel:  secrets of the agave.  aguamiel is my first documentary film.

Jamie A. Lee (Producer/Director/Editor) is an award-winning, independent filmmaker who runs visionaries filmworks, a production company dedicated to social justice media. aguamiel:  secrets of the agave is Lee’s fourth documentary feature. Her latest film, Green Green Water (2006), about the Cree Nations in northern Manitoba who are organizing to critically re-consider the construction of large-scale hydroelectric dams on their lands while reclaiming their traditional ways of life, premiered at the imagineNATIVE Film Festival (Toronto, ON), the American Indian Film Festival (San Francisco, CA), and the Planet In Focus Environmental Film Festival (Toronto, ON).  It is currently screening at colleges and universities, conferences, and communities in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.  Lee’s first film, Treading Water:  a documentary (2001), was awarded Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature Documentary by an Emerging Filmmaker at the 2002 Minneapolis/St. Paul Int’l Film Festival and has broadcast on PBS affiliates throughout the Midwest.  Lee’s second film, THIS obedience (2003), was awarded the Audience Award for Best Feature Documentary at the 2003 Central Standard Film Festival and is currently being distributed through American Public Television.

Miguel Mario Licona, Ph.D., (Producer/Assistant Director/Researcher) is an Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at New Mexcio State University.  He serves as Director of Secondary Education and is on the Multicultural Education, Distance Education, and Secondary Education Committees.  His recent publication collaborations include: Educational change and challenges: Constructivist, collaborative ideals in teacher preparation; Examining the impact of science fairs in marginalized communities; Deconstructing oppressor ideology in teacher preparation; and Learning science in multilingual settings.

Our academic advisors for the film include:
Robbin Crabtree, Ph.D., Dean, College of Arts & Sciences, Professor of Communication, and Past Director, Campus Center for Service Learning at Fairfield University.

Neil Harvey, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Government, and Director, Center for Latin American and Border Studies at New Mexico State University.

Marta Maldonado, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Sociology & Latina/o Studies at Iowa State University.

Sheena Malhotra, Ph.D., Associated Professor, Women's Studies at California State University in Northridge.

Milagros Peña, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies and Director of Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research at University of Florida.

Laura Rendon, Ph.D., Professor and Department Chair, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Iowa State University.

Youth, Sexuality, Health, and Rights (Collaboration with Dr. Stephen Russell)

Together with Dr. Stephen Russell, we are organizing a group of interested faculty and graduate students at the University of Arizona to develop a U of A Action Network of Collaborators for research, training, and funding opportunities, on Youth, Sexuality, Health and Rights, YSHR. Through the YSHR collaborative network we will develop and engage national, state, and local research, teaching, and advocacy.

See also our Crossroads Collaborative: Youth, Sexuality, Health and Rights initiative.

NEH Family Reading Program: Prime Time Comes to Arizona (Collaboration as Humanities Scholar)

I accepted an invitation from the Arizona Humanities Council to participate in an NEH grant they proposed to fund a local literacy program titled PRIME TIME. Being a volunteer and supporter of Literacy Volunteers of Tucson, LVT, and sharing their commitment to the goal of 100% literacy in Arizona, I was enthusiastic to participate.

PRIME TIME, is designed specifically for under-served families with children aged 6 to 10. Pre-reading activities are also available for pre-school children aged 3 to 4. PRIME TIME helps low-income, low-literate families bond around the act of reading and talking about books. It models and encourages family reading and discussion of humanities topics, and aids parents and children in selecting books and becoming active public library users. I will participate in a training session in New Orleans, LA in July 2010 and return to begin my humanities scholar role as reader and guide to Tucson families in local libraries during the coming academic year.

The Arizona Humanities Council will direct a partnership with the Pima County Public Library system. The four libraries in the Pima County Public Library system selected to participate are: Valencia Branch Library, Quincie Douglas Branch Library, Southwest Branch Library, and Mission Branch Library. National expansion of PRIME TIME is made possible through a $250,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), which also supported earlier grants for implementation in Louisiana and initial national expansion. ?

 Mapping Roadside Memorials (Collaboration with Dr. Ken McAllister)
Preliminary Ideas/A Work in Progress: I am particularly interested in the production of (contested) knowledges in space - who gets written into and out of space through spatialized (mis)representations, historic accounts, and material practices. I have long wanted to document (research, archive, photograph, and film) public memorials, especially roadside memorials or descansos.  I see these public~intimate/intimate~public spaces as spaces of resistance, recognition, and devotional reflection. My interest in material space, spatialized representations, rhetoric, and public scholarship has most recently manifested itself in this growing interest in roadside memorials.  I am presently in conversation with new media scholars, rhetorical scholars, photographers, journalists, poets, folklorists, and filmmakers to begin exploring a trans-disciplinary approach to documenting, archiving, representing, and understanding the material practices, rhetorical performances, and spatialized implications of these descansos especially in the context of late capitalism and transnational migrations. I have initiated a photographic documentation of some of these descansos to which one scholar replied:

 The photograph album of roadside memorials is provocative. I am especially engaged by those that show the tenderness of the shrines--the gentleness of hands that placed the remembrances--in juxtaposition with the trucks zooming by. How violent the trucks seem--as if they are the killers--and, in some way, of course they are. That makes all of us complicit because we depend on the products the trucks carry. These are, then, both individual memorials, as well as memorials to a world that we haven't made, but might, if we imagine a new kind of world together. Undoubtedly, this "message" will be conveyed even more intensely in virtual reality.



adela c. licona, ph.d. * department of english * university of arizona
modern languages 430 * tucson, arizona 85721.0067
office * 520.626.0777 * fax * 520.621.7397