The College of Social Sciences welcomes eleven new faculty members, Estevan César Azcona, Theodorea Regina Berry, Danijela Dudley, Alberto García, Jonathan Daniel Gomez, Aidin Hajikhameneh, Paul Lombardi, Carolina Prado, Costanza Rampini, Joanne Rondilla, and Wendy Thompson Taiwo.
Newly appointed Assistant Professor in Mexican American Studies
Estevan César Azcona joins the faculty of the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies as a Chicanx/Latinx arts and culture specialist. Azcona received his Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from the University of Texas at Austin, and his B.A. in Music from U.C. Santa Barbara. He served as a pre-doctoral fellow at DePauw University and Indiana University, and as postdoctoral Visiting Scholar at University of Houston. He lectured in Mexican American Studies at University of Houston while also working in the Latinx arts non-profit world as arts administrator and performing arts curator.
Azcona's research and teaching interests are Chicanx/Latinx music history and folklore, Latin American ethnomusicology, and borderlands anthropology and history. He is particularly interested in how ethnic Mexican music-making—and other public expressions of arts and culture—represent processes of cultural and political change and exchange. Utilizing ethnographic and archival methodologies, his work has documented cultural histories of Chicano Movement music-making and cross-border practices of Mexican regional music traditions in the U.S. Azcona was co-producer of the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings release, Rolas de Aztlán: Songs of the Chicano Movement. He has also served nationally as curator, consultant, and panelist for local and national arts service organizations, including National Performance Network (NPN) and the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC).
Newly Appointed Professor and Chair in African American Studies
Theodorea Regina Berry, Ed.D. (National-Louis University, 2002) is Professor and Chair, Department of African American Studies in the College of Social Sciences at San José State University. Most recently, Dr. Berry served as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Director, Graduate Recruitment and Engagement in the Graduate School at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Prior to her appointment to the Graduate School, Dr. Berry served as Director of the African American Studies Program (2014–2016) and the Graduate Advisor of Record for the PhD in Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching program (2014–2016).
Upon completion of her degree, Theodorea Berry completed a three-year postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of Illinois at Chicago awarded by the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Dr. Berry, a pioneer scholar on critical race feminism in the context of education, engages in scholarship with a focus on the lived experiences of Black women as pre-service teachers and teacher educators, critical examination of race, ethnicity, and gender for teaching and teacher education, and critical race feminism and curriculum theory. Dr. Berry’s research appears in such journals as the Review of Educational Research, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, Race, Ethnicity, and Education, Journal of Educational Foundations, and Urban Review. Dr. Berry has published books and numerous book chapters; she is lead editor and contributing author of From Oppression to Grace: Women of Color and their Dilemmas Within the Academy (Stylus Publishing, 2006) and author of States of Grace: Counterstories of a Black Woman in the Academy (Peter Lang, 2018). She is also co-editor of The Evolving Significance of Race in Education: Living, Learning, and Teaching (with Sherick Hughes, Peter Lang, 2012).
In 2017, Dr. Theodorea Berry was recognized for her outstanding contributions in the field of critical race studies in education as the recipient of the Derrick Bell Legacy Award. Additionally, Dr. Berry was inducted as a member of the Professor of Curriculum Honorary Society.
Dr. Berry currently serves as Factotum, Professor of Curriculum Honorary Society, Vice-President for the Foundation for Curriculum Theory, and Secretary of Division B (Curriculum) for the American Educational Research Association (AERA). She is also founding senior co-editor of the International Journal of Curriculum and Social Justice and Associate Editor of the Journal of Curriculum Theory.
As an active member of the community, Dr. Theodorea Regina Berry is a member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, and a Diamond Life member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Newly Appointed Assistant Professor in Political Science
Danijela Dudley is a San José State University alum who received her Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Riverside. She teaches courses in international relations and comparative politics, with a particular focus on European politics and international organizations. Her favorite class to teach is Model United Nations, which takes students from a traditional classroom to the intricate world of international diplomacy by having them represent the interests of a range of countries in simulated United Nations conferences.
Dr. Dudley’s research focuses on European politics, particularly on issues of civil-military relations, democratic transition, institution-building in transitioning and post-conflict societies, and the influence of international integration on democracy and democratization processes. Specifically, she is interested in explaining the quality of democratic institutions that are emerging as a result of European integration and the process of defense reform in transitioning societies, particularly the obstacles new democracies face in the process of establishing democratic defense institutions. Her articles have appeared in Armed Forces and Society, Mediterranean Quarterly, and Political and Military Sociology.
Newly Appointed Assistant Professor in History
Dr. García is joining the History Department as an assistant professor. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, where he also spent one year as a lecturer, and he just completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of Texas at Austin's Institute for Historical Studies. Dr. García specializes in Mexican history, specifically twentieth-century migration to the United States, rural communities, agrarian practices, and political structures. His in-progress book manuscript examines how the Mexican government administered the Bracero Program, a guest worker initiative that allowed Mexican men to work in the U.S. from 1942 through 1964, and why rural workers from one of Mexico's most traditionally Catholic regions were the ones most interested in migrating. More broadly, he is interested in Latin American social and political movements, American civil rights movements, and global migratory patterns. At San José State, Dr. García will be teaching both single-topic and comparative courses on Latin American and U.S. history.
Dr. García is the son of Mexican immigrant farmworkers and received his bachelor's degree from the University of California, Davis. His experience at two UC campuses made him a firm believer in California's system of public higher education and its ability to uplift students from traditionally marginalized communities. Dr. García is very much looking forward to working with San José State's diverse student population and preparing them to be thoughtful and engaged members of their communities. When not in the classroom or the archive, Dr. García can be found cheering on his favorite sports teams—the San Francisco Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Golden State Warriors, and the Mexican national soccer team—enjoying various science fiction and fantasy franchises—Star Trek, Star Wars, Marvel Comics, and Doctor Who—or rereading the Harry Potter novels.
Newly Appointed Assistant Professor in Mexican American Studies
Jonathan D. Gomez is a first generation scholar, and a poet. He earned his doctorate from the University of California, Santa Barbara in the Department of Sociology with an Emphasis in Black Studies. Born and raised in the barrio of City Terrace in East Los Angeles, he credits his first teachers—mother, grandparents, and tías—for nurturing his passion for study and community engagement. At East Los Angeles College, he received mentorship and resources that enabled him to become a serious and committed student. At UC Santa Cruz, he received further mentorship and training from conscientious teachers that allowed him to achieve his full potential. At UC Santa Barbara, Gomez authored, El Barrio Lindo: Chicanx and Latinx Social Space in Postindustrial Los Angeles. This study examines the racial, spatial, and gender dimensions of social space in the postindustrial city. His scholarship evidences the ways in which people who have been dispossessed and displaced envision and enact cultural practices to take possession of concrete spaces across the city as strategies for refusing the unlivable destinies to which they have been relegated.
Prior to joining San José State University, Gomez was a Research Associate at the UCSB Center for Black Studies Research where he co-facilitated the Transformative Pedagogy Project. As a board member of El Centro, the Lower Westside Santa Barbara Community Center, he worked with a range of community members to extend the reach of the arts into the everyday lives of underserved youths.
Newly Appointed Assistant Professor in Economics
Dr. Aidin Hajikhameneh joined the Department of Economics in 2018. He earned his Ph.D. from Simon Fraser University in 2016. He recently completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at the Institute for the Study of Religion, Economics and Society. His research interests stretch over the fields of experimental economics, behavioral economics, and economic history. Broadly speaking, through the fusion of economic history and laboratory experiment, he is interested in delineating the role of culture, religion, and enforcement institutions in process of economic decision making. His teaching interests include experimental economics and variety of topics in microeconomics such as game theory and industrial organization.
Newly Appointed Assistant Professor in Economics
Dr. Paul Lombardi has a Ph.D. in economics from UC Irvine and most recently was a visiting Assistant Professor of Economics at UC Davis. Paul has a strong research interest in economic history, economic development and labor economics. He examines labor topics in historical context (for example, the US Cotton South during the early 1900’s). His paper “Examining the Effect of Income Shocks on the Schooling Choices of Credit-Constrained Households” was recently accepted for publication in the European Review of Economic History. Paul will be teaching Economic Development and Industrial Organization, among other things, in the Economics Department.
Newly Appointed Assistant Professor in Environmental Studies
Dr. Carolina Prado earned her PhD in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management with an emphasis in Gender and Women’s Studies from UC Berkeley in 2017. Carolina has research interests at the intersection of community based research, environmental justice, and border studies. As a first generation queer Chicana, she believes her research on justice, environmental health, and gender should reach to both sides of the southern border. Her current work is using environmental justice mapping indices in the U.S. as a guide to create a spatial analysis of environmental inequality in the border city of Tijuana, México.
This fall, Dr. Prado will be teaching Introduction to Environmental Studies and Environmental Thought and Philosophy. Her teaching interests include environmental justice, community-based research methods, and gender and the environment. Prior to accepting a position as an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at San José State University, Carolina worked as the Senior Environmental Scientist at the Environmental Health Coalition working on two community based resarch projects on air quality and environmental justice mapping.
Newly Appointed Assistant Professor in Environmental Studies
Dr. Costanza Rampini is an Assistant Professor in the Environmental Studies Department at SJSU. She received her Ph.D. in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2016, and she taught at SJSU as a lecturer from 2016 to 2018. She specializes in climate change vulnerability, human adaptation, dams, sustainable development, and climate justice. Most of her work takes place in Northeast India, in the states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, along the banks of the Brahmaputra river. Dr. Rampini has travelled to India on numerous occasions to conduct fieldwork, and has developed extensive relationships with NGOs and research institutes in Assam and New Delhi. Dr. Rampini is excited to be joining the Environmental Studies at SJSU as a full-time faculty, and she is committed to continue working with climate-vulnerable communities in South Asia and the San Francisco Bay Area, to ensure a more just and sustainable future for all people.
Newly Appointed Assistant Professor in Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences
Joanne L. Rondilla is ecstatic to be a part of the SJSU family. While at Arizona State University, she was granted the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Outstanding Lecturer Award. At present, she is working on her manuscript, “Colonial Faces: Beauty and Skin Color Hierarchy in the Philippines and the U.S.” This project explores how perceptions of beauty, skin color hierarchy, the globalization of beauty standards, and the ongoing colonial relationship between the Philippines and the U.S. are related. Some of her notable publications include: Red & Yellow, Black & Brown: Decentering Whiteness in Mixed Race Studies (co-edited with Paul Spickard and Rudy Guevarra); Is Lighter Better? Skin-Tone Discrimination Among Asian Americans (co-authored with Paul Spickard). She has two articles that are currently in-press that address colorism and representations on television (respectively).
Originally from Dededo, Guam, she and her family moved to the San Francisco bay area (Union City) when she was thirteen years old. She holds degrees from UC Berkeley (M.A., Ph.D.) and UC Santa Barbara (B.A.). Previously, she has taught at Sonoma State University, Arizona State University, UC Berkeley, and Santa Clara University. She has teaching and research expertise in Ethnic Studies, Cultural Studies, and Sociology with specializations in Asian American Studies, Gender/Feminist Studies, Filipino/American Studies, and Pacific Islander Studies. Outside of the academy, she has more than twelve years of work experience in the cosmetics industry as a skincare specialist and make-up artist.
Newly Appointed Assistant Professor in African American Studies
Dr. Wendy Thompson Taiwo joins the Department of African American Studies as an Assistant Professor. She earned her Ph.D. in American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park in 2009. Her current research focuses on WWII-era black Southern migrant identity and community alongside contemporary conditions of dispossession, displacement, and erasure. She also has a secondary project in the works that is focused on black mixed race individuals and their relationships with their Asian immigrant mothers. Her publications have appeared in numerous journals including Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism and Nokoko as well as the anthology War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art.
Prior to accepting a position at San José State University, Dr. Thompson Taiwo was an Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies at Metropolitan State University in St Paul, Minnesota where she developed courses in the Black Studies area. She has also been awarded several Postdoctoral Fellowships including the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in Africana Studies at Bowdoin College. This Fall, Dr. Thompson Taiwo will teach courses on African American social contributions and community health.