University of California, Riverside

Faculty Profile System



Melanie Yazzie


Melanie Yazzie

Assistant Professor

Gender & Sexuality Studies
INTN 2035
(951) 827-6427
melanie.yazzie@ucr.edu

Research Areas

  • Specializes in Diné studies, Indigenous feminist and queer studies, American Indian history, social and political theory, critical environmental studies, and US social movements.

Degrees

Ph.D., American Studies (AS), University of New Mexico (UNM), Albuquerque, NM, December 2016

  • Dissertation: Contesting Liberalism, Refusing Death: A Biopolitical Critique of Navajo History
  • Concentrations: violence; biopolitics; water; Navajo history; liberalism; settler colonialism; Indigenous feminisms; Native American Studies; Navajo/Indigenous social movements; urban Indian experience; environmental studies; queer Indigenous studies
  • Dissertation Committee: Jennifer Nez Denetdale (Chair), Joanne Barker, Jodi Byrd and Alex Lubin

M.A., American Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT, May 2009

  • Master’s Thesis: Essentializing Tribal Survival: Elizabeth Cook Lynn & the Indigenous Intellectual Tradition
  • Directed by Alyssa Mt. Pleasant and co-read by Alicia Schmidt Camacho

B.A., Political Science, Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA, May 2004

Biography

Melanie K. Yazzie is a Diné feminist with an unwavering commitment to defending and liberating Native people from the violence of colonialism. She is a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies at UCR. She holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of New Mexico. She specializes in Din é studies, Indigenous feminist and queer studies, American Indian history, social and political theory, critical environmental studies, and US social movements. She has held numerous research fellowships and awards, including a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship, an Andrew W. Mellon Dissertation Fellowship, and a Ford Foundation Diversity Predoctoral Fellowship.

She is a past board member of Navajo Studies Conference, Inc., a non-profit dedicated to the development of Navajo Studies, and an organizer with The Red Nation, an activist coalition advocating the liberation of Native people from colonialism and capitalism. She has published articles and book reviews in Wicazo Sa Review, Studies in American Indian Literature, American Indian Quarterly, Social Text, and American Quarterly. With Nick Estes, she recently guest edited a special issue of Wicazo Sa Review (June 2016) on the legacy of Dakota scholar Elizabeth Cook-Lynn to the field of Native studies. She is also co-editing a special issue of Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education and Society with Dr. Cutcha Risling-Baldy on North American Indigenous water politics (forthcoming September 2017). Her first book project is based on her dissertation. It offers a critical feminist and materialist history of postwar Navajo political formations.

SCHOLARLY FUNDING

  • University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship, Department of Feminist Studies, University of California Los Angeles, 2016-2018
  • ACLS Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Native American & Indigenous Studies, Department of History, Northwestern University, 2016-2018
  • UNM-Mellon Dissertation Completion Fellowship, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, 2014-2016
  • Ford Foundation Diversity Predoctoral Fellowship, The National Academies, 2011–2014
  • Grace Leemhuis Memorial Scholarship for Native American Doctoral Students, Native American Studies Department (NAS), UNM, 2011-2012
  • New Mexico Higher Education Department Graduate Scholarship, UNM, 2009–2013
  • Regents Graduate Fellowship, Board of Regents, UNM, 2009–2011
  • Graduate Fellowship, American Indian Graduate Center, 2008–2013
  • Graduate Fellowship, Navajo Nation, 2008–2010
  • Vine Deloria Jr. Graduate Scholarship, American Indian College Fund, 2008
  • Gates Millennium Scholarship, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 2000–2004
  • Chief Manuelito Scholarship, Navajo Nation, 2000–2004

AWARDS 

  • Third Place, Excellence in Beat Reporting (With Nick Estes), Native American Journalists Association, June 2015
  • Teaching Assistant Award, Project for New Mexico Graduates of Color (PNMGC) Faculty of Color Awards, UNM, 2012
  • Best Panel Presentation, 2012 New Mexico Graduate and Professional Student Association (NMGPSA) Conference, UNM, 2012
  • Chosen Participant, Newberry Library Consortium in American Indian Studies Graduate Student Workshop: Uncovering Early American Indian Literary History, Newberry Library, Chicago, IL, March 2011

 

Publications

CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS (PEER-REVIEWED)

Discussant, “Critical Reflections on Jaskiran Dhillon’s Prairie Rising: Indigenous Youth, Decolonization, and The Politics of Intervention.” American Studies Association (ASA) Conference, Chicago, IL, November 2017.

“#NOBANONSTOLENLAND: Towards a Practice of Radical Relationality.” National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) Conference, Baltimore, MD, November 2017.

Plenary Speaker, “Decolonization: The Question of National Liberation.” Royal Geographical Society (RGS) Conference, London, England, August 2017.

“Diné Decolonization and The Biopolitics of Water.” RGS Conference, London, England, August 2017.

“Reclaiming Native History Through Anti-Colonial Common Sense.” Paper accepted for Pacific Coast Branch-American History Association Conference, Northridge, CA, August 2017.

“Diné Decolonization and The Biopolitics of Water.” Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) Conference, Vancouver, British Columbia, June 2017.

“Reclaiming Native History Through Anti-Colonial Common Sense.” American Indian Studies Association (AISA) Conference, Albuquerque, NM, February 2017.

Roundtable Discussant, “United States and Israeli Settler Colonialism, the MLA, and Boycotts: Thinking Accountability.” Modern Language Association Conference, Philadelphia, PA, January 2017.

Roundtable Discussant, "Resisting Empire: Conversations Among Indigenous, Black and PoC Identified Participants on Decolonization.” NWSA Conference, Montreal, Quebec, November 2016.

“Mythological Harmony: Public History and Colonial Violence in New Mexico.” American Studies Association Conference, Denver, CO, November 2016.

Roundtable Discussant, “Organizing to End Violence Against Native People in Border Towns.” NAISA Conference, Honolulu, HI, May 2016.

“Agency or Culture? Understanding Violence in Western History.” Annual Meeting of Western History Association, Portland, OR, October 2015.

“The Biopolitics of Navajo Development: Economics, Sexual Violence & Erasure.” Paper accepted for NAISA Conference, Washington, DC, June 2015.

Roundtable Discussant, “Resisting Occupation and Building Solidarity: The Growing Diné/Palestine Connection.” Twentieth Navajo Studies Conference, Flagstaff, AZ, May 2015.

Roundtable Discussant, “Reading the 'New World': Indigenous, Black and Feminists of Color on White Settler Colonialism and Settler Colonial Studies.” Critical Ethnic Studies Association Conference. Toronto, ON, April-May, 2015.

 “Sustaining the Tradition of Violence: Border Town Violence and the Erasure of Indigenous Peoples.” AISA Conference. Albuquerque, NM, February 2015.

Roundtable Discussant, “Native Studies: The State of the Field and Future Directions.” AISA Conference. Albuquerque, NM, February 2015.

“The Politics of Redwashing: BDS and Nationalist Struggles at Home.” NAISA Conference, Austin, TX, May 2014.

Roundtable Discussant, “Narrating Ordinary Power: Hózhójii, Violence and Critical Diné Studies.” NAISA Conference, Austin, TX, May 2014.

“Experimental Nations: Israel, The Navajo Nation, and the Itinerancy of Development.” Transnational American Studies Conference, Center for American Studies and Research, Beirut, Lebanon, January 2014.

“Intimate Occupations: Indigenous Nationalism, Sex and the (Neo)liberal Domestication of Violence.” NAISA Conference, Mohegan Sun, CT, June 2012.

Roundtable Discussant, “Graduate Students Experience & Respond to the Israel/Palestine Field School.” NMGPSA Conference, UNM, Albuquerque, NM, April 2012.

“Narrating Ordinary Axes of Power: Hózhójii, Colonial Violence and Critical Diné Studies.” Navajo Studies Conference, IAIA, Santa Fe, NM, March 2012.

“Toward a Critical Indigenous Essentialism: Kinship and Ancestry in Elizabeth Cook Lynn’s Ethno Endogenous Epistemology, Part Deux.” Paper accepted for presentation at NAISA Conference, Sacramento, CA, May 2011.

“Toward a Critical Indigenous Essentialism: Kinship and Ancestry in Elizabeth Cook Lynn’s Ethno- Endogenous Epistemology. “Critical Knowledge Symposium: Identity, Technology, and Social Justice, PNMGC, UNM, Albuquerque, NM, November 2010.

“A New Generation Considers Native Leadership.” Panel accepted for presentation at NAISA Conference, Minneapolis, MN, May 2009.

“A Well-Rounded American Indian Studies: Beyond the Dialectic.” Paper accepted as keynote address for AISA Conference, Tempe, AZ, February 2007.

INVITED TALKS

“Closing Keynote,” International Conference of Indigenous Archives, Libraries, and Museums, Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM), Santa Ana Pueblo, NM, October 2017.

Discussant, “Sacred Land, Holy Places: Two Tribal Understandings, Their Repatriation Successes and Efforts,” International Conference of Indigenous Archives, Libraries, and Museums, ATALM, Santa Ana Pueblo, NM, October 2017.

“The Politics of Natural Resource Exploitation.” Seventh Generation Gathering For The Protection of Greater Chaco, Diné-Pueblo Youth Alliance, Albuquerque, NM, July 2017.

“Violence in Common: Red & Black Perspectives on Police Brutality.” Reel Talk Discussion Series, Center for Diversity & Inclusion, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, April 2017.

Plenary Speaker, “Worst Practices Exchanged: Policing, Surveillance, and The Security State. Jewish Voice for Peace National Member Meeting, Chicago, IL, April 2017.

“Indigenous Politics and The Social Life of Water.” Water: Ways of Knowing and Being, Center for Humanities Biennial Conference, UC Merced, Merced, CA, March 2017.

Discussant, “Race and Resistance: Social Movements in the Post-Trump Era.” Critical Race Studies Ninth Annual Symposium: From Colorblindness to White Nationalism: Emerging Racial Formations in the Trump Era, UCLA School of Law, Los Angeles, CA, March 2017.

Discussant, “Standing Tall for Tribal Rights.” Hammer Museum Public Forum, Los Angeles, CA, March 2017.

Discussant, “#NoDAPL Teach-In,” University of North Carolina Greensboro, Greensboro, NC, February 2017.

“Victory is Possible: Indian Refusals and The Politics of Extraction.” Institute for American Indian Research, UNM, Albuquerque, NM, October 2016.

“Border Town Violence: Native Life Off-Reservation.” With Nick Estes, Saad Na’ach’aah Reading Series, Diné College, Tsaile, AZ, March 2016.

“An Indigenous Critique of New Mexico History.” Armand Hammer United World College, Las Vegas, NM, April 2015.

“Suburbs and Indians: Diné Water Rights and the Birth of American Neoliberalism,” Department of Anthropology, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, October 2014.

“Narrating Ordinary Power: Hózhójii, Violence and Critical Diné Studies.” Third Indigenous Book Festival, Institute for American Indian Research, UNM, Albuquerque, NM, February 2014.

“Narrating Ordinary Power: Hózhójii, Violence and Critical Diné Studies.” Symposium: (Un)Silencing the Past: Narratives of Trauma in Comparative Perspective, UNM, Albuquerque, NM, October 2013.

“Unlimited Limitations: The Navajos’ Winters Rights and the Politics of Water in the 2012 Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Settlement.” Indigenous Liberation and the Grounds of Decolonization: A Symposium in Honor of John Redhouse, UNM, Albuquerque, NM, April 2013.

“The Politics of Transnational Indigenous Solidarity.” Annual Viola Cordova Symposium, NAS, UNM, Albuquerque, NM, March 2012.

 
 

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Department of Gender & Sexuality Studies
2033 CHASS INTN

Tel: (951) 827-4843
Fax: (951) 827-6386
E-mail: juliann.allison@ucr.edu
 
 

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Last Modified: 10/27/17