Irene Mata

Associate Professor of American 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 how 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.

My book, Domestic Disturbances: Re-Imagining Narratives of Gender, Labor, and Immigration, examines the treatment of the traditional immigrant narrative in popular culture, illuminating the possibilities of alternative stories by reading Chicana/Latina-produced texts through a new interpretation of the immigrant paradigm. Domestic Disturbances suggests a new framework for looking at these immigrant and migrant stories, not as a continuation of a literary tradition, but instead as a specific Latina genealogy of immigrant narratives that more closely engage with the contemporary conditions of immigration.

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 feminicides (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.

Domestic Disturbances: Re-Imagining Narratives of Gender, Labor, and Immigration, UT Press, Nov 2014.

“Stories of Women Immigrants” on WOMEN=BOOKS

“Pedagogy of the Panza”: Featuring Irene Mata


  • B.A., New Mexico State University
  • M.A., New Mexico State University
  • Ph.D., University of California (San Diego)