Karma R. Chávez

Karma R. Chávez's picture
  • Associate Professor
  • Rhetoric, Politics, and Culture
Expertise and Activities: 

My scholarship is primarily informed by queer of color theory and women of color feminism. Methodologically, I am a rhetorical critic who variously utilizes textual and field based methods. I am interested in studying social movement building, activist rhetoric, and coalitional politics. My work emphasizes the rhetorical practices of groups marginalized within existing power structures, but I also attend to rhetoric produced by powerful institutions and actors about marginalized folks and the systems that oppress them (e.g., immigration system, prisons etc.). In 2013, I published my first book, Queer Migration Politics, which examines coalition building at the many intersections of queer and immigration politics in the contemporary United States. I am working on a new manuscript, AIDS Knows No Borders, which explores AIDS activism and organizing on the issue of immigration and within immigrant communities during what is often described as the height of the AIDS pandemic in North America (1981-1995).

In Spring of 2016, I will be a research fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities at UW, an award I received in order to work on AIDS Knows No Borders. In Spring of 2012, I was a visiting scholar at the Center for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. I am affiliate faculty in Chican@ and Latin@ Studies and Gender and Women's Studies at UW, and I also help to organize the Comparative US Studies (CUSS) group on campus. I am the co-founder of the Queer Migration Research Network, with Eithne Luibhéid, which co-hosted an international symposium in Tucson, Arizona in October 2014. Alongside my academic pursuits, I work with various grassroots social justice organizations and collectives. I host 89.9 FM WORT's lunch hour program, A Public Affair every Wednesday.


  • Ph.D. Arizona State University, 2007
  • M.A. University of Alabama, 2003
  • M.A. University of Alabama, 2002
  • B.A. Hastings College, 2000


  • Centennial Award for Social Engagement , National Communication Association Forum , 2014
  • Outstanding Woman of Color , University of Wisconsin, Madison , 2013
  • New Investigator Award , National Communication Association's Critical/Cultural Studies Division , 2012
  • First Book Project Award , UW Center for Humanities , 2011
  • Feminist Scholar Award , Organization for Research on Women and Communication , 2011


  • 2015. "Beyond Inclusion: Rethinking Rhetoric's Historical Narrative." Quarterly Journal of Speech , 101.1: 162-172 , http://tinyurl.com/pyfcmsf .
  • 2014. "Queer Politics in China: A Conversation with “Western” Activists Working in Beijing (with Ulises Moreno-Tabarez, Stephen J. Leonelli, Ana Huang, Stijn Deklerck, and Carina Rother)." QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking , 1.3: 109-132 , http://tinyurl.com/ot9qtls .
  • 2014. "Women's Studies in Communication Still Matters (with Cindy L. Griffin)." Women's Studies in Communication , 37: 262-265 , http://tinyurl.com/n67ssjn .
  • 2013. "Pushing Boundaries: Queer Intercultural Communication." Journal of International and Intercultural Communication , 6.2: 83-95 , http://tinyurl.com/cas7grr .
  • 2012. "ACT UP, Haitian Migrants and Alternative Memories of HIV/AIDS." Quarterly Journal of Speech , 98.1: 63-68 , http://tinyurl.com/ck33x5r .
  • 2011. "Counterpublic Enclaves and Understanding the Function of Rhetoric in Social Movement Coalition Building." Communication Quarterly , 59.1: 1-18 , http://tinyurl.com/d25pm3x .
  • 2011. "Identifying the Needs of LGBTQ Immigrants and Refugees in Southern Arizona." Journal of Homosexuality , 58.2: 189-218 , http://tinyurl.com/d8qkef6 .
  • 2011. "Valerie Solanas and a Queer Performativity of Madness (with Desireé D. Rowe)." Cultural Studies <=>Critical Methodologies , 11.3: 274-284 .
  • 2010. "Border (In)Securities: Normative and Differential Belonging in LGBTQ and Immigrant Rights Discourse." Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies , 7.2: 136-155 , http://tinyurl.com/cff7rbf .
  • 2010. "Poetic Polemics: A (Queer Feminist of Color) Reflection on a Gay Slam Poet." Text and Performance Quarterly , 30.4: 444-452 , http://tinyurl.com/c2ut6nw .
  • 2010. "Spatializing Gender Performativity: Ecstasy and Possibilities for Livable Life in the Tragic Case of Victoria Arellano." Women's Studies in Communication , 33.1: 1-15 , http://tinyurl.com/ctrckjf .
  • 2009. "Home: Hospitality, Belonging and the Nation." Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies , 5.5 , http://www.liminalities.net .
  • 2009. "Exploring The Defeat of Arizona's Marriage Amendment and the Specter of the Immigrant as Queer." Southern Communication Journal , 74.3: 314-324 , http://tinyurl.com/ca4dxla .
  • 2009. "Re-mapping Latinidad: A Performance Cartography of Latino/a Identity in Rural Nebraska." Text and Performance Quarterly , 29.2: 166-183 , http://tinyurl.com/ceclj2m .
  • 2009. "Embodied Translation: Dominant Discourse and Communication with Migrant Bodies-as-Text." Howard Journal of Communications , 20.1: 18-36 , http://tinyurl.com/chmvo2q .


  • 2013. Queer Migration Politics: Activist Rhetoric and Coalitional Possibilities. Urbana: University of Illinois Press .
  • 2012. Standing in the Intersection: Feminist Voices, Feminist Practices in Communication Studies (co-edited with Cindy L. Griffin). Albany: State University of New York Press .


  • 2012. "Border Interventions: The Need to Shift From a Rhetoric of Security to a Rhetoric of Militarization." Border Rhetorics , D. Robert DeChaine Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press , 48-62 .
  • 2012. "Doing Intersectionality: Power, Privilege and Identity in Political Activist Communities." Identity Research and Intercultural Communication: Reflections and Future Directions , Nilanjana Bardhan and Mark P. Orbe Lanham, MD: Lexington Books , 21-32 .


  • CA 976 - Seminar in Rhetorical Criticism
  • CA 969 - Queer Theory
  • CA 667 - History of American Public Address: The Rhetoric of US Immigration and Naturalization
  • CA 610 - Special Topics - Queer Migrations
  • CA 610 - Special Topics - Rhetoric and Queer Theory
  • CA 610 - Special Topics - Rhetoric of Social Movement
  • CA 571 - Contemporary Rhetorical Theory
  • CA 262 - Theory and Practice of Argumentation and Debate
  • CA 260 - Communication and Human Behavior