Deborah R. Vargas is Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Ethnicity, Race, and Migration at Yale University. As an interdisciplinary scholar, her work engages the fields of queer studies, feminist studies, Chicana/x Latina/x Studies, and American Studies with an emphasis on the cultural politics of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Vargas is the author of Dissonant Divas in Chicana Music: The Limits of La Onda, awarded Best Book in Chicana/o Studies, The Woody Guthrie Prize for Best Book in Popular Music Studies, and an honorable mention for Outstanding Book in Latino Studies. She is also co-editor with Nancy Raquel Mirabal and Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes of Keywords for Latina/o Studies.
Vargas is currently working on two manuscripts. “Toward a Sucialogy of Culture,” (under contract with Duke University Press) explores Chicana/x working-class aesthetic forms and queer gender performances deemed as “cultures of poverty” in relation to normative Latino citizenship. And in “The Lower Frequencies of Brown Soul,” Vargas assembles an archive of Black and brown music and art to explore alternate geographies, queer intimacies, and sonic ecologies.
Vargas has conducted oral histories with Chicana singers for the Smithsonian Institute’s Latino Music Oral History Program and written for National Public Radio’s “Turning the Tables” music series. Vargas has been awarded fellowships from The UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, The University of California Humanities Research Institute, The Ford Foundation and The Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science. Vargas received her B.S. in Communications and B.A. in Ethnic Studies from the University of Texas, Austin and her Ph.D. in Sociology (Feminist Studies certificate) from the University of California, Santa Cruz.