I am a university lecturer, a writer and a photographer. In 2007, after years of free fall in a Ph.D. program studying Literature and Cultural Studies at UCSD, I decided to open my eyes, stand on solid ground, and use my voluminous knowledge and erudition to do some good in my own community. And I’ve only looked back once or twice.
A CV in one sentence
Like many thousands of others, I have lots letters I could place behind my name, I was awarded a prestigious fellowship, traveled to the UK to do archival research at the Bodleian and British Libraries, enjoyed the good company of colleagues at many conferences (both in the U.S. and abroad) whose lives and work were far more fascinating than my own, and thereby entered into a debate about modernity and orientalism in the early modern (Renaissance) period, scholarship which largely revolves around the analysis of “the East” and “Islam” and “the Turks” in early English drama and literature.
San Diego-Tijuana and life on the border
For the past two and a half years, I have been documenting the construction of the border wall in San Diego County. “What is a border wall?” you might ask. In 2006, the U.S. Congress passed the “Secure Fence Act of 2006,” mandating that 700 miles of double-layered reinforced fencing–a wall–be built to “achieve operational control” over the border between the U.S. and Mexico. The Department of Homeland Security met with a lot of resistance from local communities throughout Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California in 2008, when people learned that their private property, local parks, wildlife reserves and wilderness areas were all going to be blocked off by an enormous wall.
And so, I got involved here in San Diego, hiking along our border, photographing the ongoing construction at Smuggler’s Gulch, Goat & Yogurt Canyons, Friendship Park and Otay Mountain Wilderness. The more I saw, the more I wanted to learn: research and writing about the history of the border wall in San Diego soon became the subject of my first blog. I joined the national coalition No Border Wall, made up of grassroots organizers, professional environmental and human rights advocates, policy analysts based in Washington D.C. and elsewhere, as well as artists, writers, photographers and filmmakers all united in the belief that a border wall will not stop unauthorized immigration nor make the United States any safer.
For three years I served on the Grantmaking Committee of the Foundation for Change, where I was privileged to learn about the struggles of dozens of grassroots organizations in San Diego & Tijuana working for social justice for immigrant and border communities. Today I am part of the San Diego Immigrants Rights Consortium, where I help out as administrator of our Facebook page “Immigrants are U.S.” I’m working on a project with the United Taxi Workers of San Diego, most of whom are East African immigrants from Somalia, Ethiopian and Eritrea.
I work in the Rhetoric & Writing Studies Department at San Diego State University, where I teach writing courses focused on civic discourse and the role of writing in political advocacy. I’m also fascinated by street & graffiti art, emerging urban culture in Tijuana, and computer & electronic music.