B.A., California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
M.A., Latin American Studies (Geography emphasis), San Diego State University
M.A., Ph.D., Ethnic Studies, University of California, San Diego, 2015
Areas of Interest:
Environmental justice, geography, comparative race and ethnicity, Chicana/o Studies, urban studies, Indigenous studies, environmental history, critical race theory, and history of gender and sexuality
Professor Ruiz is an interdisciplinary teacher and scholar whose research interests lie at the intersections of comparative ethnic studies, environmental law, and land conflict in rural counties such as Southern California's Imperial Valley. His current book project entitled, Empire Under the Sun: Racial Capitalism and Land Conflict at the U.S.-Mexico Border, complicates our understanding of the history of property ownership and capitalist development by analyzing conflicts among white pioneers, Asian growers, Mexican immigrants, and Native-Americans in what is now Imperial County. American westward expansion is typically conceived as a conquest over uncivilized land and peoples, leading to greater political and economic freedom for English-speaking settlers, a process that reached its peak with the U.S.-Mexico war (1846) and the ratification of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo (1848), when the U.S. seized the northern territory of Mexico and Native American lands. Claims of land loss have sparked debates among Chicana/o Studies and Native-American Studies scholars. While the former debate rights to ancestral lands, the latter deny any break among settlement, colonialism, and the rise of the state. His work focuses on these struggles in a little-studied yet significant geographical region-the rural West- an approach that allows us to understand the full impact of American expansionism. His exploration of rural political economies in Imperial County uncovers the centrality of land subsidy programs to supporting and expanding Manifest Destiny as practiced at the U.S.-Mexico border in the twentieth century.
Professor Ruiz is just as passionate about teaching. What he enjoys most about his job is his ability to demonstrate to students how institutions shape their own lives, as well as their personal histories and futures. Issues of diversity, retention, as well as building a safe and productive learning environment are most important to him. He is proud to belong to such a dynamic department where activism and community mentoring are taken seriously by his colleagues.