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.
Cultural and media studies, African Diaspora Studies, Comparative Ethnic Studies, gender and sexual politics, environmental justice
Cross-Cultural Understanding in Conflict Resolution
Alaí Reyes-Santos, PhD, is a professor of Ethnic Studies at University of Oregon, founder of the ceremonial space Ilé Estrella de los Mares, and an equity and inclusion consultant. She is the author of Our Caribbean Kin: Race and Nation in the Neoliberal Antilles (Rutgers University Press, 2015).
Her manuscript-in-progress, Oceanic Whispers, Secrets She Never Told, intervenes in conversations about restorative justice and community healing through a Black Caribbean epistemological lens. Her 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.
As a consultant, Dr. Reyes-Santos has worked 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. She has also served on MRG Foundation's Board of Directors and intercultural education initiatives in Centro Bono's migrant justice programs in the Dominican Republic.
An award-winning teacher, Dr. Reyes-Santos recently received the 2015 Ersted Distinguished Teaching Award. She is a high priestess and tradition keeper of Caribbean Regla de Osha, an Afro-descendant ceremonial practice that survived through cross-cultural exchanges in the islands. Her pedagogical practice draws from her ceremonial training in order to foster open conversations about social violence, power, and solidarity.
She received her BA in Comparative Literature from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez; and her MA and Phd from the University of California, San Diego. She has lived in Oregon since 2005.
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
Our Caribbean Kin: Race and Nation in the Neoliberal Antilles. Rutgers 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.
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.
Grants and Fellowships
2019 Summer Faculty Stipend, Mellon Foundation, Center for Environmental Futures, U of O
2019 Research Project Grant, Wayne Morse Center, U of O
2019 Faculty Collaboration Grant, CLLAS, U of O
2018 Digital Humanities Fellowship, UO Libraries, U of Oregon
2018 Research Innovation Grant, VPRI, U of Oregon
2018 Research Grant, Center for the Study of Women in Society, U of O
2017 Summer Stipend, Humanities and Creative Arts Faculty, CAS, U of O
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