Oriel Maria Siu

Director Latina/o Studies & Assistant Professor, Hispanic Studies Department


  • LTS 400 – The Coloniality of Power and the Latino Experience in These Times of War: Immigration, Detentions, Race and Resistance
  • LTS 300 – Latina/o Literatures: Transgressive, Disobedient Enunciations from Latina/o America
  • LTS 200 – Latina/o America: A Critical Introduction to Latino Studies


  • SPAN 310 – Central American Literatures: On Margins, Banana Books, War, Diaspora, and Disenchantment
  • SPAN 300 – Literatura, teoría y práctica: Hacia una aproximación crítica al estudio de las literaturas latinoamericanas
  • SPAN 201 – Intermediate Spanish

O.Siu Curriculum Vitae Spring 2015

Made in Guatemala but born in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, I am a pipil-china centroamericana in mad love with life, asking, and learning, or as the Zapatistas in Chiapas best say it, caminar preguntando.  Born in the midst of a U.S. sponsored war in Central America (July 16,1981 is my birthday for those of you who I know wonder) and having grown up in an economically devastated region (by the 1990s Honduras had already been entirely sold to U.S. and foreign corporate intere$t$), at the age of 16, I –like millions of other Central Americans– had no other option than to migrate to el norte. The “American Dream”, to say it in other words, came to me in the form of an imposition; it was the only path to follow if one wished not to endure the ever-escalating violence on the streets of my home-town (now the city with the highest homicide rate in the world!), the lack of educational and employment opportunities in a historically plundered region (a history that goes way back when the Spaniards arrived, or as the great Bob Marley would have it, “ever since, ever since”), and the extremities of poverty –in all senses of the word.  Los Angeles was the place of destiny, of course (by the way, Juan Gonzalez has called the continued exodus of Latin Americans to the U.S. in the past and present decades, the “harvest of Empire”. Take my classes to find out more about this Empire and how it relates to hearing Mexican music every time you go near the kitchen of every restaurant around you. Trust me, there is a direct connection here).

By the late 1990s more than a million Central Americans were already living in LA, transforming the city’s social fabric for reals! How? Well, injecting some pupusa love to the largest taco-truck city in the world and also filling up some of LA’s hottest nightclubs with some Garifuna punta, Panamanian reguetón,and Salvi cumbia flavors!  That’s right. No way was the recently arrived Central American community about to leave (the exodus of Central Americans to the U.S. had started in the early 1980s, when the worst of the massacres happened “down there”).  Not only were we establishing community in the U.S. (a process far from easy), but cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Miami represented an ironic safe-heaven to the war-torn, economically devastated countries in Central America (did I mention the U.S. funded and provoked those wars? The U.S. by the way, also provoked the inequalities that provoked those wars which in turn provoked the exile, which is now provoking me to write these (provoked) words in what I am hoping is a provocative sentence so that you can come and take a class with me one of these days. Provoked? I hope!) As I was saying, I arrived in Los Angeles in 1997.

Since then, it has been quite a ride achieving this dream of mine of becoming a professor.  From organizing in the streets of LA to stop the ever-escalating fee hikes in education in this country, to participating in popular theater, to helping establish various cultural/social projects in the LA communities, to trying to figure out all the stupid prepositions in English (still working on them!) and English itself, to protesting all kinds of wars, to fighting for immigrant rights, to working in radio (Soul Rebel Radio baby!), to becoming a true and proud nerda, to Berkeley for the masters and then back to LA for the PhD, to my back getting all F’d up (won’t ask you to excuse my language) because of all the reading and writing involved in obtaining a doctorado (come talk to me if you are considering graduate school by the way, I have all kinds of tips for you on how to keep healthy and sane, well, only if you consider me sane…), and simply put, to accepting that life is plain hard and if one acquires a social/political consciousness, it is even harder; it is a never ending struggle.  As the great poet Rubén Darío would have it: Dichoso el árbol, que es apenas sensitivo / y más la piedra dura porque ésa ya no siente, / pues no hay dolor más grande que el dolor de ser vivo / ni mayor pesadumbre que la vida consciente... (aaaaah… la poesía!)

Throughout my years in the U.S., I have been fortunate of having (or is it to have?) a beautiful family (and when I say “family” I mean it in the Latin American sense, as in familia/comunidad). Oh how I’ve met some beautifully-fierce people in my path! Because if there is one splendid thing about living in the United States, it is the people that you meet who have stories for days!: stories, mad knowledge, experiencia en la lucha, and vision (people who’ve been there, done that, and fought that. People who continue fighting “that”. Respect the elders peeps!).  In brief, I am happy to be at the University of Puget Sound.  I am happy to be here creating a Latino Studies Program, to be alive and to continue saying it loud and saying it proud.  I am happy to be given a space to share what I know and continue learning, but most importantly, I am happy to have the opportunity to enable you to learn your own path so that you may struggle your own struggle (all struggles are interconnected at the end anyway).  This is what teaching is about for me.

And what I do in the free time that I don’t have? Learn how to be a mother, think, write poetry, think out a novel I will one day write, dance till the feet can’t dance no mo’ with my love Dennis Richards (you’ll find us in any kizomba, bachata, reguetón, timba, punta or merengue dance floor in the surrounding areas, join us!), read, read a lot, read some more, connect with others in the community or in a bar somewhere, contribute what I can to community projects, and sometimes, when I really don’t have any free time, what I do is pretend that it is not cold outside or that it rains in this northern frontier almost every day…

 Come by my office. Would love to meet YOU.

Professional Preparation             


PhD University of California Los Angeles, 2012

 Areas of Specialty: Contemporary Central American Cultural Productions and Literatures; Latina/o Literatures; Cultural Studies; Post-Colonial Criticism; Coloniality/Modernity and Border Thinking

MA University of California, Berkeley, 2007
Hispanic Languages and Literatures

BAs California State University Northridge, Magna Cum Laude, 2004  
Hispanic Languages and Literatures BA
Chicana and Chicano Studies BA
Central American Studies

 Professional Experience                


2012 – Present: Assistant Professor, University of Puget Sound

 2009 – 2011: Lecturer, UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management. Designed, implemented and taught Spanish language courses for the UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management.  Courses range from beginning to advanced conversational levels

 2008 – 2010: Teaching Associate, UCLA Spanish and Portuguese Department.  Taught Spanish-language levels 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, which include introduction to literature and advanced conversation

 2007 – 2008: Teaching Assistant, UCLA Spanish and Portuguese Department.  Taught Spanish-language levels 1, 2 and 3

 2008 2009: Editor for Mester Academic Journal, UCLA Spanish and Portuguese Department



  • LTS 400 – The Coloniality of Power and the Latino Experience in These Times of War: Immigration, Detentions, Race and Resistance
  • LTS 300 – Latina/o Literatures: Transgressive, Disobedient Enunciations from Latina/o America
  • LTS 200 – Latina/o America: A Critical Introduction to Latino Studies


  • SPAN 310 – Central American Literatures: On Margins, Banana Books, War, Diaspora, and Disenchantment
  • SPAN 300 – Literatura, teoría y práctica: Hacia una aproximación crítica al estudio de las literaturas latinoamericanas
  • SPAN 201 – Intermediate Spanish

Contributions to Field of Study   


Siu, Oriel María. “On Sparking the Latino Political Imagination: A Conversation with Presente.org Co-Founder and Writer, Roberto Lovato”. Gabriel Gutiérrez, ed.  Latinos and Latinas: Risks and Opportunities. Greenwood 2014.

Saavedra, José Luis y Arturo Escobar (Compiladores).  Santiago Castro-Gómez, Ramón Grosfoguel, Agustín Lao-Montes, José A. Lucero, Nelson M. Torres, Carlos Mamani Condori, Walter Mignolo, Fanon Reinaga, Oriel María Siu, Catherine Walsh.  “Es tiempo de descolonizar nuestra academia”.  Educación superior, interculturalidad y descolonización.  La Paz, Bolivia: CEUB-PIEB, 2007.

Orona-Cordova, Roberta ed. “Are You Mexican?” Chicano/a Studies Reader: A Bridge to Writing. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co, 2003.


“Central American Enunciations from US Zones of Indifference, or the Sentences of Coloniality”. Studies in 20th and 21st Century Literature: Special Issue. Arturo Arias (Ed). Publication date: 2013.

Siu, Oriel María.  “Interview with Héctor Tobar: On The Tattooed Soldier, the Times, Memory and Marginalities” Mester Journal. Issue No. 40, 2011.

Siu, Oriel María. “Suicidio y colonialidad en una novela de la diáspora centroamericana: Inmortales”. Mester Journal. Issue No. 40, 2011.  

Meyer, Bethany; Siu, Oriel María; Venegas, Gabriela.  “La visión femenina ante el amor, la naturaleza y la historia: Una charla con Gioconda Belli”.  Mester.  Vol. XXXVII. Los Ángeles, 2008.  

Siu, Oriel María. “Reflexiones de una centroamericana sobre el encuentro intergaláctico entre los pueblos zapatistas y el mundo”. La voz. Berkeley, February 2007.


Siu, Oriel María.  “Hacia una nueva aproximación a la literatura centroamericana: El tropo del transistmo en Dividing the Isthmus; Central American Transnational Histories, Literatures, and Cultures de Ana Patricia Rodríguez”.  Brújula. Special Issue: Central American Narratives. Revista interdisciplinaria sobre estudios latinoamericanos. Issue No. 9. Primavera 2011


Siu, Oriel María. Poesía. Revista Cultura (Secretaría de Cultura de la Presidencia de El Salvador).  No. 110, 2013.

Siu, Oriel María. Poesía. Párrafo. Issue No. 10, 2011.

Siu, Oriel María. “Trozos e intento” (poema). Soldadera de amor. Pág. 28. Mujeres de maíz. Issue No. 9, 2011.

Siu, Oriel María. Poesía. Diario CoLatino.  En sección “Trazos culturales”.  San Salvador, El Salvador.  12 de septiembre, 2011.                                


Editor of Spanish sections in The Barbarian Nurseries, a novel by Héctor Tobar.  London: CPI, 2011.

Editor of 2nd edition, Huellas de una lucha sin final, a novel by Oscar René Benítez. Los Ángeles: La Mancha Publishing, 2009.

Manlio Argueta Documentary Project. “Poetas y volcanes” Director: Carolina Rivera, May 2010.


“Central Americans in the U.S: Notions of Belonging and Non-Belonging in U.S. Social Spaces”.  International Latino Studies Conference, “Imagining Latino Studies: Past, Present and Future”.  Chicago, Illinois. July 2014.

Respondent, “Estado perpetuo de prescindibilidad y sus cuerpos racializados: Migración, migrantes y esa guerra iniciada en 1492”.  IX Annual Spanish Matters Colloquium in Cultural and Literary Studies in the Hispanic World: El Canon y sus Demonios. Western Washington University, Bellingham. April 2014.

“La diáspora centroamericana desde su producción novelística: Conceptualizando una literatura emergente”. XIII Congreso Interanacional de Literaturas Hispánicas. Cartagena, Colombia.  Marzo, 2014.

“Central American Enunciations from U.S. Zones of Indifference: On the Homo Sacer, the State of Exception, and Writing”. University of Puget Sound, January 2012.

Central Americans and the Latina/o Landscapes: New Configurations of Latina/o America.  Presenting on: “Sobre la incompleta muerte en La diáspora de Horacio Castellanos Moya” February 22-25, 2012.  UT Austin.  

LASA Panel "La colonialidad del poder en Centroamérica y los Andes". Ponencia: “Autodestrucción, discurso, colonialidad: Muerte y alcoholismo en Berlín años guanacos”.  Panel presided by Arturo Arias. San Francisco May 2012.

“La novela de la diáspora centroamericana: Algunas anotaciones sobre los eternos Inmortales”.  Los Ángeles Convention Center, MLA.  Presided panel on “Central American Lives: Writings from the Diaspora”. January 2011.

“La novelística de la diáspora centroamericana y una rica Sopa de caracol: Colonialidad, risa y placer”. Conference on Transnationality in the Luso-Hispanic World. UCLA, April 2010.

“Criticism in the Borderlands, Decolonizing Academia” Conference. University of California, Berkeley 2006.

“Más allá de las remesas”.  Presided and presented panel. Salvadoreños en el Mundo Congress, Los Angeles Convention Center, August 2007.

“Memoria, Arte y Literatura en la Diáspora Salvadoreña”. Salvadoreños en el Mundo Congress. San Salvador, El Salvador.  November 2008.


“Immigration in Tacoma/Pierce County: Realities, Resources, and Responses”. “On the Death of the American Dream and the Current State of Latino Immigration to the United States”. Immanuel Presbyterian Church, November 2012.

“Sílabas extrañas: Homenaje a Roque Dalton”. Centro de Desarrollo Cultural Centroamericano, Los Ángeles, May 2011.

“On Central American Literatures and Testimonies: An overview”. Pomona High School for the Chicana/o and Latino Studies Program. 2010.

“Pinceles y voces: Celebrando a la mujer centroamericana de Los Ángeles”, Lot 44 Art and Gallery Space in Downtown Los Ángeles, March 2010.

“Central American Poetics in Los Angeles”. UCLA, November 2010.

“Central American Women in Los Angeles: Contextualizing diaspora”. East Los Angeles Theatre Repertoire.  Los Angeles, May 2010.

“Flight to Freedom: The Story of Central American Refugees in California” Rossana Perez’s Book Presentation. Central American Resource Center (CARECEN). Los Angeles, May 2008.


“Honduras después del golpe y su Refundación” University of California, Los Angeles, April 2010.

“Dislocated Writing: Luso-Hispanic Literature Beyond Borders”, University of California Los Angeles, April 2009.

Service to the University               


  • Created, developed, and direct the Latino Studies Program at the University of Puget Sound
  • Diversity Committee Participant
  • Organizer, series of campus events:
  • “To Dream in Washington: Luis Ortega and the Washington Dream Act Coalition”, a talk by Luis Ortega. Puget Sound, November 2012
  • “Civil Wars and the formation of Central American Gangs in the US: Prevention, Intervention, and the Challenges Ahead”.  Special talk by Alex Sánchez and film screening of “Fruits of War”. Puget Sound, February 2013
  •  “Latino Studies Film Series”.  Puget Sound, February – April 2013
  •  “The Meaning of Migration in a World in Crisis”.  A lecture by Father Alejandro Solalinde Guerra as part of VIII Spanish Matters Colloquium.  Puget Sound, April 2013
  •  “Queer, Undocumented, and Unafraid: The UndocuQueer Intersectionality”, a talk by Carlos Padilla.  Puget Sound, May 2013

 Community & Interests                

2013/Present: Advisory Board member, Centro Cultural Centroamericano Museum of Art and History of Central America MAHCA in Los Angeles

2007 – 2011:Board Member of the Center for Central American Cultural Development; Overseer of Historical Memory Committee for the Museum of Central American Memory in Los Angeles

2007– 2008: Teatro Lil Milagro Co-Founder/Performer 

“Propserity”: Frida Kahlo Theatre, 2008. Directed by Carolina Rivera    

“Vida y muerte de Monseñor Romero”: Los Ángeles, June-July 2008

2005 – 2006: KPFK Radio Co-Host and Program Co-Founder, Soul Rebel Radio

2002 – 2006: Organizer of youth educational delegations to various Latin American countries

1999 – 2004: TheCentral American United Student Association Co-Coordinator: Contributed to the creation of the first Central American Studies Program in the United States at California State University, Northridge. Organized a series of educational, cultural symposiums, and conferences for the Central American community in Los Angeles

Awards & Recognitions
2009 - 2010:
Graduate Research Mentorship Fellowship Recipient, UCLA

2005 – 2007: Robla-Cota Fellowship Recipient, UC Berkeley

1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003: Dean’s List CSU Northridge

2000: Barbara Ann Ward Scholarship Recipient CSU Northridge

1999, 2000: Hispanic Scholarship Fund Recipient, United States

Professional Memberships          

Modern Language Association since 2006
Latin American Studies Association since 2006

Languages Spoken

Native Spanish-speaker and fully fluent in English. Near-fluency in Portuguese and French.