Lisa Marie Cacho

Associate Professor


Lisa Cacho's scholarship interrogates the ways in which human value is both ascribed and denied relationally along racial, gendered, sexual, national, and spatial lines.

Research Interests

  • comparative race and ethnic studies
  • criminalization and immigration
  • women of color feminism and queer of color critique

Research Description

Lisa Cacho's work demonstrates how race, gender, sexuality, class, nation, and legality work interdependently to assign human value and to render relations of inequality normative, natural, and obvious in both dominant and oppositional discourses. To understand how the rhetoric and discourse of value are both institutionalized and popularized to devastating effect, she analyzes a range of sources, such as ballot measures ascribing “illegality” to persons, legal provisions targeting “criminal aliens,” court documents evaluating degrees of “guilt,” and related media accounts that manage and make sense of racial contradictions. Her book, Social Death: Racialized Rightlessness and the Criminalization of the Unprotected (NYU press, 2012) examines the ways in which representations of race and race relations mediate how we affectively and intellectually apprehend criminal justice and civil/human rights.


Ethnic Studies, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego
Ethnic Studies, MA, University of California, San Diego
Ethnic Studies, BA, University of California, San Diego
Literature/Writing , BA, University of California, San Diego

Additional Campus Affiliations

Associate Professor, Latina/Latino Studies
Associate Professor, Asian American Studies
Associate Professor, Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory
Associate Professor, Gender and Women's Studies

Recent Publications

Cacho, L. M. (2018). Civil Rights, Commerce, and US Colonialism. Social Text, 36(2 (135)), 63–82.

Cacho, L. M. (2014). The Presumption of White Innocence. American Quarterly, 66(4), 1085-1090.

Molina, I., & Cacho, L. M. (2014). Historically mapping contemporary intersectional feminist media studies. In C. Carter, L. Steiner, & L. McLaughlin (Eds.), The Routledge companion to media and gender (pp. 71-80). (Routledge Media and Cultural Studies Companions). New York: Routledge.

Cacho, L. M. (2012). Gang members, juvenile delinquents, and direct democracy. In J. J. Betancur, & C. Herring (Eds.), Reinventing Race, Reinventing Racism (pp. 259-269). (Studies in Critical Social Sciences; Vol. 50). Brill.

Cacho, L. M. (2012). "If I turn into a boy, I don't think I want huevos": Reassessing Racial Masculinities in What Night Brings. GLQ, 18(1), 71-85.

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