Melanie Plasencia

Chavez Fellow, 2021-2023

Melanie Z. Plasencia is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Comparative Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and the incoming César Chávez Fellow at Dartmouth College for 2021-2022. This year, she was nominated to serve as the graduate student representative for the Aging and Lifecourse section of the ASA. Her research is committed to improving older immigrants' social, economic, and health conditions by learning about the role social support and place have in shaping their health and well-being. Drawing on more than two years of ethnographic fieldwork in a community of older Latinxs on the East Coast and 72 open-ended interviews, her dissertation, "Con Suenos Que Ya Son Viejos: How Aging Latinx Immigrants Confront Inequality in Later Life," examines how older Latinx immigrants negotiate the challenges of aging in the context of extreme poverty, deteriorating health, and diminishing government support. Her research shows that older Latinx immigrants face enormous financial, familial, medical, and health challenges when they decide to grow old in the United States. As a result, older Latinxs must learn new ways of managing healthcare, adapting to fixed incomes, and finding spheres of personal and even moral worth in their retirement years. Her project has been supported by a multi-year University of California (UC) fellowship, the New York Metro Fellowship, the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, UC Berkeley's Center for Race and Gender, and the Ford Foundation. Melanie's research is forthcoming, in the journal of Social Problems and The Gerontologist, respectively.

Contact

Raven 216

Education

  • B.A. Rutgers University
  • M.A. University of California, Berkeley
  • ABD, University of California, Berkeley

Selected Publications

  • PEER-REVIEWED PUBLICATIONS

    "Age-Friendly as Tranquilo Ambiente: How Cultural Perspectives Shape Older Latinos' Lived Environment," The Gerontologist, Special Issue on Age-Friendly Environments, forthcoming.  

    "'I don't have much money, but I have a lot of friends': How Poor Older Latinos Find Tangible Support in Peer Friendship Networks," Social Problems, https://academic.oup.com/socpro/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/soc...

    ​Julia Sizek with Isabel G. Valdivia and Melanie Z. Plasencia, "Addressing Latinx Social inequality in Later Life." Written interview. Social Science Matrix, December 10th, 2021.

  • BOOK CHAPTERS

    " 'La Iglesia Es Mi Comunidad': A Union City Latinx Destination From Arrival to Old Age," in Latino New Jersey, edited by Ulla Dalum Berg and Aldo Lauria Santiago (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press), forthcoming. 

  • ENCYCLOPEDIA ENTRIES

    "Antonio Ibarria (1935-) and El Especialito (Union City, NJ) (1985)," in Latinos in the American Political System: An Encyclopedia of Latinos as Voters, Candidates, and Office Holders, edited by Jessica Lavariega Monforti (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO), 2019, 172-173. 

    "Robert 'Bob' Menendez (1954-)," in Latinos in the American Political System: An Encyclopedia of Latinos as Voters, Candidates, and Office Holders, edited by Jessica Lavariega Monforti (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO), 2019, 319-320. 

  • REVIEWS

    Review of Theresa Delgadillo, Latina Lives in Milwaukee, in Latino Studies 15, no. 3 (Fall 2017): 386-388. 

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Works In Progress

"Reimagining Care for Latinx Senior Survival" (draft available upon request)