American Studies

American Studies at UNM provides students with the tools to understand their lived experience in relation to questions of identity, place, and power. Our classes offer new approaches to not only learn about the systems of racism, colonialism, capitalism, nationalism, and gender and sexual normativity as they impact our lives, but also to actively transform the world in which we live.

Rather than focusing mainly on the study of “American culture,” American Studies encourages students to begin from an understanding of the specific place and context in which we study in order to unsettle the relations of power at work in conventional ways of making sense of the world. Since its beginning, the Department of American Studies at UNM has maintained a hemispheric and global perspective, while also focusing on scholarly explorations of the Southwest and New Mexico.  

American Studies offers students the combination of flexibility and focus to develop their own their own specific areas of interest. We are interdisciplinary in that our faculty come from a variety of academic disciplines and our students receive training in a broad range of historical, literary, visual, and ethnographic approaches. Critical Indigenous studies, Critical ethnic studies, Black studies, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality studies, Religious studies, the study of Law and Society, Cultural studies, and the study of social and liberation movements (for prison abolition, decolonization, racial and gender justice, migrants and refugees, and queer, transgender, and gender nonconforming/nonbinary peoples, among others) are vital to the interdisciplinarity of American Studies.

The specific field of study called American Studies first emerged in response to the global crises of the 1930s with the idea that studying contemporary society requires more than one set of scholarly tools for analysis.

In a world where social, economic, political, and environmental crisis appears as a regular feature of our lives, American Studies brings a sense of the urgency and purpose with which we engage in scholarly inquiry.

In Memoriam

Associate Professor Amy Brandzel, 1970-2023

Areas of distinction in research and teaching are:

  • Transnationalism, Globalization, and Colonialism
  • Critical Regionalism and Southwest Studies
  • Critical Race and Class Studies
  • Environmental and Social Justice
  • Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies
  • Comparative Cultural and Popular Culture Studies