Alaí Reyes-Santos

Profile picture of Alaí Reyes-Santos
Professor of Practice
Latinx, Law, Law-CRES
Phone: 541-346-0928
Office:
Research Interests: ComparativeEthnic Studies, Black Diaspora Studies, Afro-Latin@/x Studies, Afro-Indigenous Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Environmental Studies, Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Biography

Dr. Alaí Reyes-Santos is an independent scholar and consultant. She teaches as a Professor of Practice at U of Oregon's School of Law and is the Associate Director of the Mellon-funded PNWJust Futures Institute for Climate and Racial Justice (jfi.uoregon.edu). She formerly taught as an Associate Professor in the Department of Indigenous, Race, and Ethnic Studies at UO. She is also the founder of ACC, a BIPOC-led consulting firm that facilitates organizational transformations and community engagement in the non-profit sector, government, higher ed, and social and environmental organizations. ACC's team offers an approach to social and environmental justice, and conflict resolution, grounded in ancestral healing practices that serve the individual and the collective. Dr. Reyes-Santos currently serves in Oregon's Racial Justice Council's Environmental Equity Committee; and as the co-director of Bohio Cibanani, 501c3.
 
Dr. Reyes-Santos is the author of Our Caribbean Kin: Race and Nation in the Neoliberal Antilles (Rutgers 2015), Sanadores (Buho 2021), and articles, essays, and op-eds in published in a variety of venues. The digital humanities project Caribbean Women Healers: Decolonizing Knowledge Within AfroIndigenous Traditions (2020) showcases interviews with healers, ethnobotanical resources, and curriculum and bibliographical resources (healers.uoregon.edu). It is being re-conceptualized to include Indigenous and Black healers and traditional ecological knowledge keepers in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Her current manuscripts-in-progress propose a Black Diasporic approach to betrayals among kin emerging from racial, gender and environmental violence. These projects have been supported by grants and fellowships from Mellon Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, the Future of Minority Studies, The Dominican Research Institute, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, the Center for the Study of Women in Society, Oregon Humanities Center, the Digital Scholarship Center, and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.
 
An award-winning teacher, her Ted-talk “Building Intercultural Communities” is used in higher ed and popular education to initiate guidelines for dialogue across difference.
 
As a founding member of the Oregon Water Futures Collaborative, she continues to contribute to the articulation of a water justice agenda in the state and nationwide. After supporting a 330million dollars water package in 2022, OWF moved to its second outreach phase in 2022 as a collaboration between Willamette Partnership, Coalition of Communities of Color, Verde, Oregon Environmental Council, Oregon Voice, and UO’s Environmental and NaturalResources Law Center.
 

Statement

I am a cultural studies scholar devoted to the analysis of stories about kinship, solidarity, and betrayal in the midst of socio-historical violence, with an emphasis on the Black Diaspora and its connections with multiple communities. Since I can remember, I have loved reading and listening to stories. Now I document, trace, and analyze stories in literature, interviews, media, dances, mid-conversation, in a batey, in a marquesina, in a bus, anywhere a good story gets my attention.

Education

Ph.D. University of California, San Diego, Literature, 2007

M.A. University of California, San Diego, Spanish, 2004

B.A. University of Puerto Rico, Comparative Literature, magna cum laude, 2001

Honors and Awards

2016               Distinguished Woman of Achievement, Black Women of Achievement, U of Oregon

2015               Ersted Distinguished Teaching Award, University of Oregon

2015               Guy Alexandre Paper Prize, Haiti-Dominican Republic Section, Latin American Studies Association Conference

2008               Fall Professor of the Term, Mortar Board Society, University of Oregon

2007               Distinguished Woman of Achievement, Black Women of Achievement, U of Oregon

2007               Outstanding Faculty Award, Office of Multicultural Advising and Support, University of Oregon

2005               Barbara and Paul Saltman Distinguished Teaching Award, UCSD Academic Senate

Publications

Our Caribbean Kin: Race and Nation in the Neoliberal AntillesRutgers University Press, 2015. 

"Mangú y Mofongo: Intra-Latinx Subjectivities in Dominican-Puerto Rican Families." Co-author Ana-Maurine Lara. Centro Journal, 2018.

“On Pan-Antillean Politics: Betances and Luperón Speak to the Present.” Callaloo 36.1 (2013): 142–157.

"Afro-descendencia y pan-americanismo en el pensamiento antillanista del siglo diecinueve." Estudios Sociales XLI.154 (May 2013): 29-51.

“Capital neoliberal, raza, migración: relaciones domínico-haitianas y domínico-puertorriqueñas.” Revue Européenne des Migrations Internationales 24.1 (February 2008): 13-34. 

"Notas sobre identidades étnicas y raciales dominicanas." Co-author Ramona Hernandez. Afrodescendendientes en México y Nuestra América. Ed. Jesús María Serna e Israel Ugalde Quintana. Centro de Investigaciones sobre América Latina y el Caribe, UNAM: 2019.

“Anowa and Tituba, Witch or Feminist?: A Comparative Study of Two Postcolonial Characters.” African Diasporas: Ancestors, Migrations and Boundaries. Eds. Robert Cancel and Winifred Woodhull. Trenton: Africa World Press, 2008. African Literature Association Annual Series Vol. 14: 115-123.

Research Interests

ComparativeEthnic Studies, Black Diaspora Studies, Afro-Latin@/x Studies, Afro-Indigenous Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Environmental Studies, Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Research

I am a professor of African Diaspora Studies who also teaches at the UO Law School Conflict Resolution Program. My book, Our Caribbean Kin: Race and Nation in the Neoliberal Antilles (Rutgers University Press, 2015), coins the term transcolonial kinship to describe anti-racist, feminist, and queer modes of solidarity across island borders. The manuscripts-in-progress titled Our Kin in Diaspora: Sacred Stories of Motherhood in the Aftermath of Slavery and Oceanic Whispers: Stories of Betrayal and Kinship in the Port Towns of the Black Diaspora are both creative-academic endeavor that intervene in conversations about social violence, solidarity, and community healing through storytelling practices and a theoretical lens derived from Afro-Caribbean sacred ceremonial traditions.

The ongoing research project with Dr. Ana-Maurine Lara, titled Decolonizing Knowledge: AfroIndigenous Caribbean Women Healers, will showcase healers and their ethnobotanical resources through an open-access digital archive sponsored by the UO Digital Humanities Scholarship Center. Digital Humanities have become increasingly relevant to my scholarship. In 2017-2018, I led the digital project The UO Puerto Rico Project: Hurricane Maria and the Aftermath with a student team devoted to collecting stories about Puerto Ricans in the island and Oregon, and develop publicly available educational tools about the natural disaster. These two projects have informed an emerging environmental justice research agenda articulated through a collaboration with student interns and community partners on the storytelling project Oregon Water Futures.

As a public intellectual, I have served as a consultant with the Organization of American States' Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Northwest Youth Corps, School Garden Project, Non-Profit Association of Oregon, Northeast Oregon Economic Development District, and Mobilize Green, among others, on equity, inclusion, and environmental initiatives. I also served on MRG Foundation's Board of Directors and intercultural education initiatives in Centro Bono's migrant justice programs in the Dominican Republic. I am a contributor to HipLatina, a digital publication, and Oregon’s Register Guard. The Ted-talk “Building Intercultural Communities” is widely used in higher ed and community-based educational settings.

A priestess and tradition keeper of regla de ocha and regla conga-Afro-Caribbean spiritual traditions-and founder of the ceremonial space Ilé Estrella de los Mares, I draw from my academic and ceremonial training to foster open conversations about social violence, power, and solidarity. The Ilé honors Caribbean Indigenous, Congo, and Yoruba heritages through transnational educational exchanges. An award-winning teacher, I received the 2015 Ersted Distinguished Teaching Award.