Javier Astorga

Geography; Community & Regional Planning

Photo: Javier Astorga

Originally from Venezuela, Javier Astorga comes to the PhD program in Latin American Studies at UNM after having completed the MALAS degree at UNM in 2016.

He chose to continue his graduate studies at UNM because of its grounded Latin American Studies program, and because the LAII is an excellent institute where Latin American scholarship resonates with its own choir of interdisciplinary voices. He has appreciated how this has strengthened his academic and professional training. First as a master's student and now as a doctoral student, Javier has come to love the LAII's supportive faculty and staff.

Javier's region of study is New Mexico within the scope of the US-Mexico border system, a topic that he approaches as a Latinoamericanista. UNM has been an ideal place to pursue this research because of Albuquerque's proximity to Mexico and the community's connections to Mexican-American culture - aspects which he finds unique in the context of Latin American Studies programs.

Most recently, his studies have involved participating in the '3rd México Summer Institute,' a program organized by the UNM El Centro de La Raza which permitted him to travel to Mexico for several weeks. Program participants experienced notable places such as the Ciudad de México and El Valle Central, visiting museums, universities, communities, and archeological sites. In short "it was amazing!" As his first time in Mexico, he was able to see the country and its culture through a Latinoamericanista lens.

After several years living in Albuquerque, his connection to the state has moved beyond academic goals. He feels connected with different communities of different backgrounds, where cultural diversity is always present, at different levels, through different voices, but yet in the same place and city.

Throughout his time as a graduate student at UNM, Javier has grown professionally and academically from different experiences. At the moment, for instance, he holds two teaching assistant positions: one as a Spanish instructor in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese, and another assisting an introductory course in the Department of Geography. Both experiences have improved his teaching practices. A separate research assistantship position has helped him to hone and contextualize research skills. Outside of these formal positions, Javier has also volunteered with the Graduate Student and Professional Association (GPSA), an experience that helped him gain insights into American campus life.

Upon graduation, Javier expects to continue his studies and work in academia. At the same time, he finds it valuable and meaningful to continue learning experientially and to maintain contact with communities via support networks. He loves reading philosophy in his spare time, and going out with his family on long walks