Cristina S. Méndez is a PhD student in the Critical Studies of Race, Class and Gender. She is also pursuing a designated emphasis in Indigenous Language Revitalization. Her research interests span disciplines, drawing on sociology, ethnic studies, migration studies, among others. Through her research and other collaborations, Cristina is committed to centering Indigenous, feminist, and decolonial epistemologies and methodologies.
Currently, Cristina is engaged in an ethnographic and community-based research design project with Maya Mam activists and a UC Berkeley doctoral candidate in Linguistics to create programs and other spaces for the ongoing vitality of the Mam language. From this collaboration, Cristina examines how revitalization movements offer the potential for coalition-building and pedagogical innovations for a decolonial future.
Cristina’s interest in language sustainability stems from her experience as a 3rd grade teacher in the Central Valley, California where she supported families who called on schools to support their childrens’ multilingual development and to offer greater accessibility for families. From this experience, she takes a critical and multiscalar approach to the analysis of language sustainability and vitality in schools and communities.
Cristina co-founded the Guatemala Scholar-Activists Working Group (GuaSA) with Michael Bakal (UC Berkeley), Kelsey Alford-Jones (UC Berkeley), and Rebekah Kaump (UC Davis). This working group was previously supported by the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) at UC Berkeley. Cristina has also received funding from CLAS through the Foreign Language and Area Studies Summer Fellowship to study Mam language.