Nájera is a cultural anthropologist whose current research focuses on undocumented students in higher education. Her expertise is in Mexican racial categorization, Latino/a education (including higher education), the history of Mexican immigration, and contemporary immigration policy. She is the author of the forthcoming book “The Borderlands of Race: Mexican Segregation in a South Texas Community” (University of Texas Press). She has received numerous fellowships for her research, including support from the Social Science Research Council and UCLA’s Institute for American Cultures.
On Mexican Racial Catetgorization
Since the late 19th century, Mexican-origin people in the United States have legally been classified as “white.” This racial categorization often obscures the lived realities of Mexicans and Mexican Americans, who often experience racial discrimination similar to Blacks, Asians, and Native Americans.
On Latino/a Education
The U.S. public school system continues to underserve Latino/a youth. Socioeconomic status, gender, and immigration status are all major factors in determining how well students are able to navigate the school system. Of particular interest is the way that students—particularly college students—build communities that provide the social and navigational capital in order to succeed.