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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. He is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography at UCLA. 

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My first book, Cartographic Memory: Social Movement Activism and the Production of Space (Duke University Press 2022) 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. 

Cover Cartographic Memory .jpeg

Cartographic Memory

Official Release: October 7 2022

Duke University Press

In Cartographic Memory, Juan Herrera maps 1960s Chicano movement activism in the Latinx neighborhood of Fruitvale in Oakland, California, showing how activists there constructed a politics forged through productions of space. From Chicano-inspired street murals to the architecture of restaurants and shops, Herrera shows how Fruitvale’s communities and spaces serve as a palpable, living record of movement politics and achievements. Drawing on oral histories with Chicano activists, ethnography, and archival research, Herrera analyzes how activism has shaped Fruitvale. Herrera examines the ongoing nature of activism through nonprofit organizations and urban redevelopment projects like the Fruitvale Transit Village that root movements in place. Revealing that the social justice activism in Fruitvale fights for a space that does not yet exist, Herrera brings to life contentious politics about the nature of Chicanismo, Latinidad, and belonging while foregrounding the lasting social and material legacies of movements so often relegated to the past.



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.

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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.



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.

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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. 

Abstract Architecture


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.


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. 

Rainbow Light Art
Mountain Range


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. 

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