More About the Author
Professor Alicia Gaspar de Alba is a celebrated writer and scholar. She took her Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of New Mexico in 1994. A founding faculty member and former chair of the UCLA César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o Studies (2007-2010), her work explores gender and sexuality, Chicana/o art, popular culture, and border studies. Known to her students as La Profe, she teaches courses on border consciousness, bilingual creative writing, Chicana lesbian literature, and barrio popular culture.
With novels that have been translated into Spanish, German and Italian, Gaspar de Alba has published numerous books, articles, short stories, and poetry. Her 2011 book, Our Lady of Controversy: Alma López's "Irreverent Apparition," co-edited with Alma López herself, serves as a Chicana feminist response to the religious opposition against Lopez's digital collage, "Our Lady," and offers diverse perspectives on art, censorship, first-amendment rights, the alignment of Church and State, and Chicano nationalism. Her 2010 anthology (co-edited with her graduate student, Georgina Guzmán) Making a Killing: Femicide, Free Trade, and La Frontera and her 2005 mystery novel, Desert Blood: The Juárez Murders examine the unresolved murders of over five hundred poor Mexican women and girls that have taken place on the border between El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico since 1993.
In 2001, Gaspar de Alba won First Place in Historical Fiction in the Latino Literary Hall of Fame for her debut historical novel Sor Juana's Second Dream (1999), a Chicana lesbian interpretation of the life of Latin America's "tenth muse," the 17th-century nun/poet/scholar Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Desert Blood (2005) was awarded both a Lambda Literary Foundation Award for Best Lesbian Mystery and a Latino Book Award for Best Mystery in English. Mystery of Survival, her short story collection, was awarded the 1994 Premio Aztlán, a Rudolfo Anaya-endowed literary award for a first book of fiction by an emerging Chicana/o writer. Her doctoral dissertation "Mi Casa [No] Es Su Casa: The Cultural Politics of the Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation Exhibit" won the 1994 Ralph Henry Gabriel American Studies Association Award for Best Dissertation, and is the basis for her 1998 book, Chicano Art Inside/Outside the Master's House. She also received a 1993 Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship and a 1992 Chicana Dissertation Fellowship from the University of California, Santa Barbara. In 1999, she was awarded a Rockefeller Fellowship for Latino/a Cultural Study at the Smithsonian. In 2008, she was awarded the UCLA Gold Shield Faculty Award for Academic Excellence.
Along with her teaching and scholarly work, Gaspar de Alba has also organized three important conferences at UCLA. As part of the 2010 quinceañera celebration of the UCLA César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o Studies, Gaspar de Alba organized an all-day Valentine's symposium, "Sex y Corazón: Queer and Feminist Theory at the Vanguard of the New Chicana/o Studies," which examined how Chicana/o queer and feminist scholars have changed Chicana/o Studies over the past 15 years. In 2003, she organized "The Maquiladora Murders, Or, Who Is Killing the Women of Juárez?" a three-day international conference about the epidemic of femicides that have been occurring on the U.S.-Mexico border since 1993, and in 2001 she organized "Otro Corazón: Queering the Art of Aztlán," a Valentine's day tribute to the creative spirit of queer Chicana/o visual artist, performance artists, writers, and critics.
Gaspar de Alba holds joint appointments in the departments of English and Women's Studies, and is a longstanding member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies Faculty Advisory Committee. From 2002-2004, she served as Associate Director of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center and co-editor of Aztlán: A Chicano Studies Journal, and from 2000-2001, she was appointed Interim Director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Studies Program. Before joining the faculty at UCLA, she worked as a Braille transcriber at the National Braille Press in Massachusetts and taught English Composition and ESL courses at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
A native of the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez border, Gaspar de Alba now resides in Los Angeles, California with her wife, digital artist and muralist Alma López, and their two cats.