About Joel Saldana Perez
Joel is a PhD student in Mexican American Studies with a minor in Library and Information Science (Archival Studies) at the University of Arizona and is also a first-generation college student and immigrant from Guanajuato, Mexico. His research interests are Mexican and Mexican American foodways, traditional healing knowledge and practices, and herbal medicine; how these traditions and knowledge are impacted by migration and place; and how gardens and kitchens act as decolonial archival spaces for these intangible cultural knowledge and traditions.
Joel has been a Graduate Research Assistant to Dr. Patrisia Gonzales and with the Native American Research and Training Center (2014-2015) where he helped create curriculum for a hybrid course on Mexican Traditional Medicine and was the caretaker for a medicinal garden; a Graduate Research and Recruitment Intern with Pima Community College (2015) where he supported the Office of International Development in promoting and awarding scholarship funds to American studies of Mexican origin; and a Graduate Teaching Assistant and Associate in the Departments of Mexican American Studies (MAS) and Spanish and Portuguese (DSP) since 2015.
Additionally, Joel has worked, interned, or volunteered with the following organizations: the Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras (since 2019); Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse (since 2015); the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona (2019-2020); the Tucson Botanical Gardens (2017-2018); Casa Alitas (2017); Resplandor International (2013, 2014, 2018); and with the Kino Border Initiative (2013) and the Flying Samaritans (2014) through the Southern Arizona Area Health Education Center (SEAHEC) as an undergraduate student.
In his free time, Joel performs with Grupo Folklórico Miztontli and Ballet Folklórico Alexa Zozaya (BFAZ), two Mexican folklórico dance groups in Tucson, AZ. In the summer of 2017, Joel was also a participant in the Southwest Folklife Alliance Ethnographic Fieldschool, where he connected with Carmen Baron, a Mexican folklórico dancer and costume designer and recipient of the 2016 SFA Master-Apprentice Award, under whom he apprenticed for a semester on how to design/make Mexican folklórico costumes.
Areas of Study
PRIMARY AREA OF STUDY:
- Gardening Traditions
- Mexican Traditional Medicine
- Archival Studies
- Oral Traditions
- Oral History
OTHER RESEARCH INTERESTS:
- Mexican Folklórico Dance
- Mexican Folklórico Costumes
- Mexican Traditions and Culture
- Native American and Indigenous Studies
INDIGENOUS ARCHIVES FELLOW, ALIANZA INDIGENA SIN FRONTERAS (2021 – present)
STUDENT RESEARCHER, INDEPENDENT STUDY (2017 – present)
- Archiving Mexican Folklórico Costumes (Fall 2018-present): includes a virtual poster presentation at the ARCHIVES*RECORDS conference (2020); a 3-minute proposal presentation for the UA GradSlam (2021); and preparing a manuscript to submit for publication (in progress).
- Mexican Folklórico Costumes Apprenticeship (Fall 2017): apprenticeship with Carmen Baron, master folklórico costume designer, seamstress, dancer, and recipient of a Southwest Folklife Alliance (SFA) Master-Apprentice Award in 2016. Currently on hold but hope to return to apprenticeship and to complete oral history interviews with Carmen in the future.
PROJECT ASSISTANT, TUCSON BOTANICAL GARDENS (2017 – 2018)
- Nuestras Recetas: Preserving Tucson’s Mexican-American Family Recipes: collaboration between the Tucson Botanical Gardens and Catholic Community Services to interview Tucson’s Mexican American elders about their favorite recipes and stories behind these recipes (how they learned them, where they come from, etc.). Bilingual booklet available through the Tucson Botanical Gardens.
STUDENT RESEARCHER, MASTER’S THESIS RESEARCH (2016 – 2017)
- Thesis: “Remedios de mi tierra: An Oral History Project on the Changes and Continuity of the Traditional Healing Knowledge and Practices of a Mexican Immigrant Mother from Guanajuato, Mexico” (committee: Drs. Patrisia Gonzales, Antonio Estrada, and Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith).
- Submitted IRB forms, created questionnaire, conducted oral history interviews, transcribed audio, and defended in 2017.
STUDENT RESEARCHER / DIRECTOR, INDEPENDENT STUDY (2013)
- Our Garden Video Project with Imelda Cortez: Video project about community and school garden projects in Tucson and Sells; interviewees describe the projects and the impact that these gardens have had on the people and the community in general.
- Link: https://vimeo.com/255080256
M.S., Mexican American Studies (Latinx Health & Wellness), The University of Arizona, 2017
B.A., Spanish Translation & Interpretation, Mexican American Studies, The University of Arizona, 2014
The University of Arizona
MAS 150B1: Sex and AIDS in the 21st Century
MAS 160A1: American Indian Health and Wellness
SPAN 101: 1st Semester Spanish
SPAN 102: 2nd Semester Spanish
SPAN 103: Oral Skills for Heritage Learners of Spanish
SPAN 323: Intermediate Spanish for Heritage Learners II
Pima Community College
MAS 105: Introduction to Chicanx Studies