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

People / Graduate Students


Fantasia Painter

Native American Studies, Tribal Law, Incarceration, Community Building, and Identity Production

Bio & Research Interests

I am a second-year PhD student and Chancellors Fellow in the Ethnic Studies department.

My interdisciplinary research project interrogates the ways Native Americans and Mexican immigrants[1]  are relationally racialized and gendered through discourse and practice in the O’odham communities of Arizona. In particular I examine these processes and histories through the lens of illegal and legal practices – including, criminality, arrest, and law-making—to ask how distinctions of race, gender, nationality, and ethnicity are made, unmade, and confused throughout the history of the U.S. Southwest and in the present. My dissertation is tentatively titled, The Limits of the Nation: Race and Indigeneity in the Southwest.


[1] Mexican national, Mexican-American, and “illegal immigrants” are conflated and flattened in the National imaginary. Mai Ngai identifies this process as the racial production of “illegal alien” and “alien citizen.”  My use here of Mexican immigrant signals this categorical construction whose multiplicity remains opaque in processes of racialization.