Vanessa Castaneda

Guarini Dean's Postdoctoral Fellow 2021-2023

Vanessa Castañeda earned her Ph.D. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is currently the Guarini Dean's Postdoctoral Fellow in Afro-Latinx and/or Afro-Latin American Studies. Her research centers on the baianas de acarajé, predominantly older, working-class Black women who are street vendors in Salvador, Brazil, that sell typical regional foods with culinary origins in West Africa. They also have come to exist as central icons of the African heritage tourism and cultural figures of regional and national Brazilian identity. Using interdisciplinary methodologies, including archival research and eighteen months of community-based ethnographic fieldwork with the Association of Baianas (ABAM), Vanessa's work reconceptualizes the baianas as political agents of Black feminism for self and collective liberation. She shows how the women have mastered navigating their mobility in accessing multiple spaces of power, both figuratively and spatially. Her research has been supported by the Brazilian Studies Association (BRASA) Initiative Scholarship, the Tinker Foundation, and the US Fulbright Program. She currently serves as an executive officer for the Southeastern Council for Latin American Studies (SECOLAS). As a first-generation student herself, Vanessa is committed to diversity, inclusion, and educational equity. At Tulane University, she was the graduate assistant for the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Gender & Sexual Diversity for several years and in 2016, she founded the Undocumented Student Support Committee.

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Raven 208
HB 6026

Selected Publications

  • Peer-Reviewed Articles

    "Mucamas or Baianas?: Black Female Empowerment and Cultural Representation in Bahia" in The Latin Americanist Annals Issue (Vol 65, No. 1, March 2021), pp. 9-34.

    Book reviews

    "Mapping Diaspora: African American Roots Tourism in Brazil." (UNC Press, 2018) by Patricia de Santana Pinho published in The Latin Americanist (Vol 63, No. 4, Dec 2019).

Works In Progress

Book Chapter

Co-author. "Graduate Student Access and Outcomes" in A Practitioner's Guide to Supporting Graduate and Professional Students. Routledge (forthcoming)