Dr. Lisa Marie Cacho

Associate Professor of English,Asian American Studies,Latina/Latino Studies, and Gender and Women's Studies


Asian American Studies, Gender/Sexuality Studies, American, later, Latina/o Studies


Lisa Cacho's scholarship interrogates the ways in which human value is both ascribed and denied relationally along racial, gendered, sexual, national, and spatial lines.

Specializations / Research Interest(s)

  • comparative race and ethnic studies
  • criminalization and immigration
  • women of color feminism and queer of color critique

Research Description

  • Lisa Cacho's work demonstrates how race, gender, sexuality, class, nation, and legality work interdependently to assign human value and to render relations of inequality normative, natural, and obvious in both dominant and oppositional discourses. To understand how the rhetoric and discourse of value are both institutionalized and popularized to devastating effect, she analyzes a range of sources, such as ballot measures ascribing “illegality” to persons, legal provisions targeting “criminal aliens,” court documents evaluating degrees of “guilt,” and related media accounts that manage and make sense of racial contradictions. Her book, Social Death: Racialized Rightlessness and the Criminalization of the Unprotected (NYU press, 2012) examines the ways in which representations of race and race relations mediate how we affectively and intellectually apprehend criminal justice and civil/human rights.


  • BA Ethnic Studies, University of California, San Diego, 1996
  • BA Literature/Writing, University of California, San Diego, 1996
  • MA Ethnic Studies, University of Califronia, San Diego, 1998
  • PhD Ethnic Studies, University of California, San Diego, 2002

Distinctions / Awards

  • John Hope Franklin Award for Best Book in American Studies, 2013
  • Outstanding Asian American Faculty/Staff Award, 2010
  • Department of Latina/Latino Studies Award for Teaching Excellence, 2011


  • Introduction to Asian American Studies (AAS 100)
  • Theory and Methods in LLS (LLS 385)
  • Introduction to Latina/Latino Studies (LLS 100)
  • U.S. Citizenship Comparatively (AAS 215, AIS 295, AFRO 215, LLS 215, GWS 215)
  • Race, Sex, "Deviance" (LLS 465, AAS 465, AFRO 465, GWS 465)

LLS Titles & Affiliations

  • Associate Professor of Latina/Latino Studies and Affiliate of Asian American Studies, English and Gender & Women's Studies



  • Cacho, Lisa M. Social Death: Racialized Rightlessness and the Criminalization of the Unprotected. New York: New York University Press, 2012.

Publication Photo

Book Contributions

  • Molina-Guzmán, Isabel, and Lisa M. Cacho. "Mapping Intersectional Feminist Media Studies." Routledge Companion to Media and Gender. Ed. Cynthia Carter, Linda Steiner, and Lisa McLaughlin. London and New York: Routledge, 2014. 71-80.
  • Cacho, Lisa M. "Gang Members, Juvenile Delinquency, and Direct Democracy." Reinventing Race, Reinventing Racism. Ed. John Betancur and Cedric Herring. Leiden, The Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill NV, 2012. 259-270.
  • Cacho, Lisa M. "Racialized Hauntings of the Devalued Dead." Strange Affinities: The Sexual and Gender Politics of Comparative Racialization. Ed. Grace K. Hong and Roderick A. Ferguson. Durham: Duke University Press, 2011. 25-52.
  • Cacho, Lisa M. "The Rights of Respectability: Ambivalent Allies, Reluctant Rivals, and Disavowed Deviants." Immigrant Rights in the Shadows of Citizenship. Ed. Rachel I. Buff. New York: New York University Press, 2008. 190-206.

Journal Articles

  • "Civil Rights, Commerce, and US Colonialism." Social Text 36.2 (2018): 63–82.
  • Cacho, Lisa M. "The Presumption of White Innocence (Part of Forum: Whiteness Redux or Redefined?)." American Quarterly 66.4 (2014): 1085-90.
  • Cacho, Lisa M. "‘If I turn into a boy, I don’t think I want huevos’: Reassessing Racial Masculinities in What Night Brings." GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 18.1 (2012): 71-85.
  • Cacho, Lisa M. "But Some of Us Are Wise: Academic Illegitimacy and the Affective Value of Ethnic Studies." The Black Scholar 40.4 (2010): 28-36.
  • Cacho, Lisa M. "'You Just Don't Know How Much He Meant': Death, Deviancy, and Devaluation." Latino Studies 5.2 (2007): 182-208.
  • Cacho, Lisa M. "'The People of California Are Suffering’: The Ideology of White Injury in Discourses of Immigration." Cultural Values 4.4 (2000): 389-418.

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