Yajaira M. Padilla

Yajaira M. Padilla

Assoc Professor

J. William Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences


Phone: 479-575-4801

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Yajaira M. Padilla is an Associate Professor of English and Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Her research centers on Central American cultural and literary studies and Central Americans in a US Latino context. She is the author of Changing Women, Changing Nation: Female Agency, Nationhood, and Identity in Trans-Salvadoran Narratives (SUNY 2012) and has published articles: Latin American Perspectives, Latino Studies, the Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies, and Studies in 20th and 21st Century Literature. Currently, she is working on a new project on the politics of Central American “belonging” and “non-belonging” in the United States. This new manuscript examines how Central American immigrants and subsequent generations construct collective identities within the US, thereby fostering a sense of “belonging” as an ethnic minority group and as “Americans,” as well as the different ways in which dominant discourses of US nationhood, based on exclusionary notions of citizenship, construe Central Americans as “not-belonging” or “undesirable” subjects, largely due to their undocumented status and criminalization, their gender, race, ethnicity, and/or their sexuality.

U.S. Latino/a literatures and culture

Modern and Contemporary American Literature

19th and 20th century Latin American literature

Central American literature and culture

Contemporary Latin American literary, cultural, and social theory

Gender and Sexuality Studies

Ethnic Studies

Graduate Courses

ENGL 6543    Engaging Latinidades: Identity in US Latino Literature and Film

ENGL 5943    Fundamentals of Ethnic Studies, Gender, and Queer Theory

ENGL 5543    Migration and Belonging in Latin/o American Film

ENGL 5543    Chicana/Latina Feminist Thought and Fiction

ENGL 5543    US Latino Literatures and Film

Undergraduate Courses

ENGL 4523    Migration and Belonging in Latin/o American Film

ENGL 4523    Chicana/Latina Feminist Thought and Fiction

ENGL 3543    US Latino/a Literatures and Film

ENGL 3903    Latin American Literature of the “Boom” in Translation

ENGL 3843    Multiethnic Detective Fiction

ENGL 2353    Survey of Modern & Contemporary American Literature

LAST 2013     Intro to Latin American Studies

Changing Women, Changing Nation: Female Agency, Nationhood, and Identity in Trans-Salvadoran Narratives. (SUNY 2012).

  • “Migrant Marías: Troubling Illegibility, Motherhood, and (Im)migration in Marcela Zamora Chamorro’s María en tierra de nadie.” Forthcoming in The Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies, Spring 2017.
  • “‘Illegal Art’: The Cachet of Political Chickens in Central American L.A.” in Central American Migrations: Diasporic Belongings. Eds. Esther Hernández, Alicia Estrada, and Karina Alvarado. University of Arizona Press, 2017.


    “Central American Non-belonging: Reading ‘El Norte’ in Cary Fukunaga’s Sin nombre” in The Latin American Road Movie. Eds. Jorge Pérez and Verónica Garibotto. Palgrave, 2016.

  • “Maurice Echeverría’s Labios: A Disenchanted Story about Lesbians in Postwar Guatemala.” Forthcoming in Studies in 20th and 21st Century Literature, December 2013.
  • “The Central American Transnational Imaginary: Defining the Gendered and Transnational Contours of Central American Immigrant Experience.” Special Issue on Central American-Americans. Latino Studies 11.2 (2013): 150 – 166.
  • “Jacinta Escudos’s Maternal Terrors: ‘Talking Back to Testimonio in an Age of Neo-liberalism’.” Antípodas: Journal of Hispanic and Galician Studies, 21 (2010).
  • “Domesticating Rosario: Conflicting Representations of the Latina Maid in U.S. Media.” Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies 13 (2009): 41 – 59.
  • “Of Diosas, Cochones, and Pluriempleadas: (En)gendering Central American Identities in Contemporary Short Stories by Women.” Letras Femeninas 15.2 (2009): 91 – 112.

  • “Setting La diabla Free: Women, Violence, and the Struggle for Political and Cultural Representation in El Salvador’s Postwar Reality.” Latin American Perspectives 35.5 (2008): 133 – 145.


    “Sleuthing Central American Identity and History in the New Latino South: Marcos McPeek Villatoro’s Home Killings.Latino Studies 6 (2008): 376 – 397.