Department of Ethnic Studies - College of Letters and Science - University of California, Berkeley

People / Graduate Students


Wanda Alarcon

decolonial feminism; sound studies; chicana/o and latina/o cultural studies; u.s. multi-ethnic literature; popular music

Bio & Research Interests

Wanda Alarcón is a doctoral candidate of Comparative Ethnic Studies with a Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender, and Sexuality. She has an MA in English & American literature from Binghamton University and a BA in Music from California State University, Long Beach. Her interdisciplinary research is situated in Chicana/o and Latina/o cultural studies; U.S. women of color and decolonial feminisms; U.S. multi-ethnic literatures; popular music; and sound studies. Her dissertation, Sounding Aztlán: Music, Literature, and the Chicana/o Sonic Imaginary, presents a diverse archive of cultural objects to explore the question: What does Aztlán sound like?  Rethinking nation as song and taking up the contested notion of aztlán as historically marginalizing to women and la joteria, she uses a method of listening to “tune in” to multiple, heterogeneous, and alternate histories of Chicana/o belonging, within and out of nation, in the musical and literary soundscapes of Greater Mexico. The stakes of her project consider that against the assimilating force of national and nationalist forms, alternate histories are easily forgotten and thus we may practice new modalities with which to remember by sounding aztlán.  

At Berkeley Wanda co-coordinated the Center for Race & Gender (CRG) Working Groups, Decolonial Feminisms and Popular Music in Chicana/o Cultural Studies; collaborated in the retrospective celebration and symposium Quinto Sol Remembered; was selected as a Graduate Fellow in African American & Ethnic Studies for the mentoring program Berkeley Connect (2014-2015), and she sang in the University Gospel Chorus during her qualifying exam year. At Binghamton she participated in the Decolonial Thinking Summer Institute and the Decolonial Thinking, Politics of Women of Color, and Decolonial Feminism working groups in the Center for Philosophy, Interpretation, and Culture (CPIC). As a community arts activist and having a bit of an entrepreneur spirit inherted from her parents, Wanda created and edited the poetry zine, JOTA, guided by the vision to make something beautiful and paperbound as a forum for new queer Chicana writers in Los Angeles. More recently, she has published essays on music, race, and gender in the premier sound studies blog, SoundingOut!  Wanda was raised in East Los Angeles and Mexico and lives in Santa Cruz with her partner of many adventurous years.   




Laura E. PĂ©rez

Courses Taught or Assisted

Chicano Studies R1A, (Reading & Composition)
Ethnic American Writers (R&C)
Latino Narrative Film
Humanities Research Methods in Ethnic Studies
Asian American Literature (R&C)
Introduction to Chicano/Latino History


Select publications

Book Review, “SO Reads!: Deborah R. Vargas’s, Dissonant Divas in Chicana Music: The Limits of La Onda.” Sounding Out!: The Sound Studies Blog, June 23, 2014. Web. 

Book Review, Leonard G. Ramírez’s Chicanas of 18th Street: Narratives of a Movement from Latino Chicago.  Aztlan: A Journal of Chicano Studies, Vol. 37, No. 2, 2012.    

“Could I Be Chicana Without Carlos Santana?” August 6, 2012, SoundingOut!:  The Sound Studies Blog, August 31, 2012,

“Compartiendo Nuestras Historias:  Five Testimonios of Schooling and Survival.”  Wanda Alarcón, Cindy Cruz, Linda Guardia Jackson, Linda Prieto, Sondra Rodriguez-Arroyo.  Journal of Latinos in Education.  Vol. 10, Iss. 4, 2011.  

“New Wave Saved My Life,” January 31, 2011, SoundingOut!: The Sound Studies Blog, August 31, 2012,