Irene Mata

imata@wellesley.edu

(781) 283-3390
Women's and Gender Studies
B.A., M.A., New Mexico State University; Ph.D., University of California (San Diego)



Irene Mata
Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies

Interests include Chicana/Latino literature and culture; and analysis of gender, labor, immigration, sexuality, and representation in cultural production.


My research blends my love of literature and popular culture in an effort to investigate the ways in which women of color, especially immigrant women and their labor, are represented in contemporary cultural productions. I see the study of cultural productions as an important field of inquiry because it tells us so much about the ways in which the world around us is constructed. By looking at stories of immigration in popular culture, we can see how producers of cultural texts choose to represent the changes that have occurred over the past 20 years in the movement of women across national boundaries.

Growing up in the border city of El Paso, Texas, has deeply informed my research. I have combined my background in women’s studies, border studies, and my work in popular culture in a second project on the U.S.-based cultural productions representing the femicides (often referred to as the maquiladora murders) taking place in Northern Mexico. I’m interested in looking at how cultural producers portray the changes taking place in the U.S./Mexico border area with the mass migration and heavy industrialization of the region.

I believe that the classroom is a space of unlimited possibilities where the enthusiastic exchange of ideas takes place. I see my job as an educator as an endeavor to help students critically examine the world we inhabit. In the classroom, I expect students to be active participants in their learning, challenging texts and interrogating key ideas. By engaging students in the subject material being studied, I hope to create in the classroom a space for the sharing of knowledge. Having been mentored by some wonderful women throughout my educational life, I also firmly believe in the value of mentoring and see my work as a teacher not ending when I leave the classroom.

As a Chicana/Latina studies scholar, I am committed to exposing the greater Wellesley community to the creative works and scholarship being produced in my field. One of my favorite things to do is to introduce the campus community to Chicana/Latino artists, academics, and activists. I have enjoyed planning guest lectures and coordinating performances by such amazing individuals like Cherríe Moraga, Rosaura Sánchez and Beatrice Pita, Nancy "Rusty" Barceló, Norma Cantú, Adelina Anthony, Carlos Manuel Chavarria, and Rita Urquijo-Ruiz. I look forward to planning future events that will continue to enrich Wellesley's diversity programming.