About Me:


Ph.D., Chicana/o and Central American Studies, UCLA, 2020

M.A., Chicana/o Studies, UCLA, 2017

Gender Studies Graduate Concentration Certificate, UCLA, 2017

M.A., Latin American Studies (Sociology Concentration), UCSD, 2012

B.A., Sociology and Latin American Studies, UCR, 2009

A.A., Liberal Arts, Santa Monica College, 2006

Dr. Brenda Nicolas (Zapotec) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Global and International Studies at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). Her work looks at the transborder communal experiences of Zapotecs between Los Angeles and Oaxaca. Specifically, she looks at women’s and adult children of migrants’ participation in community sociocultural and political organizing to contest settler colonial violence brought about by the racial logics of Latinidad. Dr. Nicolas’s book project titled, Transborder Comunalidad: Indigenous Autonomy Across Settler Colonial Borders, examines four generations who have continuously politically and culturally organized through their hometown associations, traditional dances, and Oaxacan brass bands. As an interdisciplinary scholar, Dr. Nicolas uses a Indigenous frameworks that bridge Latin American, Latinx, and American Indian literature to draw on her theoretical framework, transborder comunalidad, an ongoing Indigenous Oaxacan conception of collective community life sustained through practices and beliefs in diaspora that challenges state violence against Indigenous peoples (Martínez Luna 2013).

 Dr. Nicolas is the recipient of several fellowships, including: the Ford Foundation Fellowship, the UC Office of the President Award, the UCLA Dissertation Year Fellowship, and a Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellowship. She is a former research assistant to UCLA’s Mapping Indigenous Los Angeles (MILA) project— a digital storymapping archive that collaborates with Indigenous communities to capture the many Indigenous histories of Los Angeles.

Dr. Nicolas currently serves in her community’s tribal council in Los Angeles. In 2015, she co-founded the Oaxacan College Initiative (OCI) to provide mentorship to the growing Indigenous diaspora from Latin America entering U.S. colleges and universities. She has also organized a series of community events as a former board of directors of the Indigenous Oaxacan non-profit in California, the Centro Binacional Para el Desarollo Indígena Oaxaqueño/Binational Center for the Development of Oaxacan Indigenous Communities (CBDIO) and as a former community member for the Frente Indígena de Organizaciones Binacionales/Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations  (FIOB) in San Diego and Los Angeles. In addition, Dr. Nicolas has been a co-host for the Senderos de Oaxaca in Pacifica Radio KPFK, a community station that touches on political, social, cultural, and educational topics by inviting community members and critically-engaged scholars. She was born and raised in Los Angeles.