Otay Allies thank you letters


Director of the Center

ChengGrace Cheng, Ph.D.
Lecturer, Political Science
Email: [email protected]

Dr. Grace Cheng established the Interdisciplinary Human Rights Initiative (IHRI) in the College of Arts and Letters in Fall 2018 and has served as Director of the IHRI and, now, the Center for Human Rights.  She teaches courses on human rights, political violence, and the politics of resistance at SDSU.  Dr. Cheng's writings and research interests concern questions of human rights, self-determination, and sovereignty, as well as migration and displacement.  She is a Fulbright Specialist (2018-2023) and is involved in scholar-practitioner projects to integrate human rights principles and redress for past abuses in efforts to re-establish peace, including as a member of the Board of Advisors of the West African Transitional Justice Centre (Nigeria) and Advisor to the International Institute for Peace and Development Studies (Thailand).

Student Intern

BautistaJenna Marie Bautista
Major in Interdisciplinary Studies (History, Women's Studies, and Religious Studies)

Being part of the AAPI community and a first-gen student, Jenna's interest in human rights stems from the admiration of her family's home country and its people's constant work towards further decolonization and liberation. She aims to engage in similar work by not only uplifting the communities she belongs to both within San Diego and worldwide, but other marginalized folk through awareness, education, and on the ground community organization. 

Steering Committee

AitkenStuart C. Aitken, Ph.D.
June Burnett Chair & Distinguished Professor, Geography

Email: [email protected]

Stuart C. Aitken is the founding director of the research center Youth, Environment, Society and Space (YESS). He has worked with the United Nations on child rights, labor and migration issues.


BartelRebecca Bartel, Ph.D.
Associate Director of Center Latin American Studies & Associate Professor, Study of Religion

Email: [email protected]

Rebecca Bartel is Assistant Professor in the Department for the Study of Religion and Associate Director of the Center for Latin American Studies at San Diego State University. An anthropologist of Christianity, Professor Bartel's work has covered the political economy of Colombia's armed conflict, the effects of Canadian mining on human rights discourse in Colombia, among other topics. Her current project considers the religious worlds embedded in aspirational futures, towards economic liberation and reformed immigration systems.


FreemanMark Freeman, Ph.D.
Professor, School of TV, Film, and Theatre
Email: [email protected]

Mark Freeman, a filmmaker with over 40 years of experience, is a Professor of Television, Film and New Media in the School of Theatre, Television and Film at San Diego State University. He has produced and directed, written and edited programs for broadcast on public television, often focusing on the plights of people.


GraubartJonathan Graubart, Ph.D.
Professor, Political Science
Email: [email protected]

Jonathan Graubart is a professor of political science at San Diego State and Director of the ISCOR program. He specializes in the areas of international relations, international law, Israel-Palestine, the UN, normative theory, and resistance politics.


Gonzalez-RiveraVictoria González-Rivera, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Chicana & Chicano Studies

Email: [email protected]

Victoria González Rivera is the first woman of Nicaraguan ancestry to obtain a Ph.D. in Latin American History from a U.S. university and is a pioneer in the fields of Nicaraguan women’s & LGBTQ history. In addition to her work as a teacher & mentor at SDSU, she is an active member of her community and serves on several non-profit boards.


HernándezRoberto D. Hernández, Ph.D.
Professor, Chicana & Chicano Studies

Email: [email protected] 

Roberto D. Hernández is an actively engaged, community-based researcher, scholar, teacher and writer. His research, publications & teaching focus on the intersections of colonial & border violence, the geopolitics of knowledge & cultural production, decolonial political theory, social movements, hemispheric indigeneity, masculinity & comparative border studies.


Hill MaherKristen Hill Maher, Ph.D.
Professor, Political Science

Email: [email protected]

Kristen Hill Maher’s research has two main areas of focus: international migration, and border politics. On the former theme, she has published work on the markets for foreign labor and the capacities of migrant workers to claim rights and membership, as well as how migration shapes gender identities.


PriceKimala Price, Ph.D.
Professor & Chair, Women’s Studies
Email: [email protected]

Kimala Price's research interests are reproductive politics and policy, the reproductive justice movement, political intersectionality, community-based research, interpretive research methodology. In addition to teaching at SDSU, she serves on multiple non-profit boards & remains active in reproductive rights/justice movements.


Robb LarkinsErika Robb Larkins, Ph.D.
Professor, Anthropology; Director, Behner Stiefel Center for Brazilian Studies  
Email: [email protected]

Erika Robb Larkins' research and teaching focus on urban anthropology, violence and inequality, crime, drug policy, security, police, incarceration, political economy, tourism, and public anthropology; Brazil, Latin America.


SavageMatthew Savage, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, School of Communication
Email: [email protected]

Matthew W. Savage's research interests focus on the intersection of health, interpersonal, and mass communication. Dr. Savage’s scholarship is conducted within the context of creating and supporting health communication campaigns aimed to deter negative and risky behaviors among adolescents and young adults.


Schuckman-MatthewsEmily Schuckman-Matthews, Ph.D.
Professor & Director, European Studies Program

Email: [email protected] 

Emily Schuckman Matthews' primary research focus is examining the representation of prostitution in Russian literature and film. Other areas of interest include human trafficking, late/post-Soviet Russian literature and culture, cinema and Russian feminist cultural studies.


William Twayigize, Ph.D.
Staff, International Affairs; Lecturer, Politial Science

William Twayigize's main research interests include: African Political Affairs, International Development, and Resource-Related Conflicts and Post-Traumatic Informed Care.