Professor. Thinker. Researcher.
Dr. Juan Herrera is a human geographer who specializes in the study of race, sexuality, and social movements. He is a proud first generation scholar committed to studying and imagining a more spatially just world.
I am an assistant professor of geography at UCLA committed to the study of the spatial imperatives to social justice struggles. My first book, Cartographic Memory: Social Movement Activism and the Production of Space (Duke University Press 2021) examines how social movements mobilize to make changes in actually-existing places. The book details how movements produce landscapes shaped out of the reconfiguration of social relations and the meeting of multiple historical trajectories—down to the very materiality of transformations in the built environment. Utilizing rich oral histories, ethnography, and meticulous archival research, I detail how movements transform places, route places to other regions, and mobilize to create an egalitarian futurity.
My next book focuses on an intersectional and relational analysis of queer of color geographies in Los Angeles. The book questions what it means to conceptualize intersectionality through a spatial framework. What are the politics of building intersectional spaces? What identities, institutional formations, and geographical locations are privileged (and/or rendered invisible) in the making of intersectional spaces and movements? The project probes the politics in the making of queer of color geographies.
This article examines how anti-indigenous racism shapes the migration and settlement patterns of recently-arrived immigrants from Latin America. I argue that immigrant illegality must be understood in relationship to other modes of difference such as race.
In my undergraduate major of Chicanx Studies we learned that education was a privilege that should be used to help "the community." In this article, I argue that Chicano Movement organizing took place in specific neighborhoods and helped build community and a politicized sense of belonging.
Historically, Oakland is known as a geography shaped by Black and White political mobilizations. In this article I demonstrate how Mexican Americans have a long history of political mobilizations in the city. I argue that Mexican American activism worked alongside African American movements and reinterpreted the concept of being a racial minority in the city.
COMMUNITY ENGAGED RESEARCH
WORKING WITH COMMUNITIES
My work is much more than an intellectual project. I work to support community organizations such as Street Level Health Project in Oakland where I served as volunteer, work study employee, advisor, board member, and president of the board of directors. I view research as intimately tied to community projects and mobilizations.
My work seeks to center Latinx Geographies both as an official specialty group in the American Association of Geographers (AAG) and a legitimate field of geographical inquiry focused on centering the experiences of Latinx people in the United States and beyond.
FIRST GENERATION & PROUD
As a first generation, queer professor of color, I am dedicated to supporting first generation support and research groups on campus, including the McNair Scholars Program and Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Program at UCLA.
A UCLA Geographic Project for the 21st Century
My scholarship is committed to thinking through the prism of race and difference to help expand geographic research and thought. Race, Space & Difference is a project that seeks to advance conversations about the future of geography that I am spearheading together with my UCLA Geography Department colleagues Lieba Faier and Adam Moore.
Geography is undergoing a radical reconceptualization whereby new voices are transforming a discipline that began as part of a colonial project. Fields of inquiry such as Black geographies, Latinx geographies, and Indigenous geographies are pushing us to rethink fundamental tools and strategies of the discipline. They have invited us to question basic concepts such as how we understand maps, geopolitics, the politics of scale, landscapes, and research methodologies–ultimately urging us to rethink what counts as “geography.” Our project seeks to highlight how UCLA is at the cutting edge of scholarship advancing geographic knowledge for the 21st Century.
Spatial thought transcends disciplinary boundaries. UCLA has expertise across campus that builds on important interventions by feminist and critical geographers while putting their insights into dialogue with recent innovations in ethnic studies, critical race theory, environmental humanities, and science and technology studies. The Race, Space, and Difference project seeks to put these diverse scholars in conversation and support trans-disciplinary collaborations.
RELATIONAL AND INTERSECTIONAL
Building on the important work of women of color feminists and UCLA professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, Race, Space, & Difference highlights an intersectional and relational framing to geographic inquiry. This approach thinks of geography as a site of encounter where identities and spaces become constituted in a relational and intersectional fashion.
BRIDGING HUMAN AND ENVIRONMENT DIVIDE
A critical component of the Race, Space, and Difference project builds on recent interventions on the study of human/environment relations and how race and gender factor into the construction of nature and the environment vis-a-vis understandings and taxonomies of human difference.