Growing up in Portland, OR, several family members, friends, and outstanding public school teachers challenged me to think critically about social, political, historical, and environmental problems. For example, while hiking the forested mountain trails where my grandparents live, they showed me nature’s magnificence as well as the devastation that humans could wreak to such landscapes. During a middle school social studies project, my uncle helped me formulate critical questions about what it means to be a “nation” and how many indigenous nations in the US are not recognized by the government. And my high school teachers used interactive activities to teach about gender inequality, social class, the politics of constructing historical narratives, and racial stratification.
As a first-generation college student, I studied sociology because the discipline echoed these puzzles about social problems that I had learned about in my childhood. One professor encouraged me to not merely learn some sociological ideas, but to actually become a sociologist. This motivated me to also be the first in my family to attend graduate school and receive a PhD. The same puzzles that led me to the discipline of sociology continue to drive my research and teaching interests.
My research centers on understanding how indigenous nations who are divided by state borders seek collective rights that transcend those borders. Such indigenous peoples are actively confronting histories of dispossession and racism while seeking recognition as nations with ancestral territories that span state borders. I situate my research at the intersection of sociological work on race and ethnicity, social movements, and political sociology. I also thoroughly enjoy teaching and aim to foster an environment where students use research and their sociological imaginations to think critically about relevant social problems.
Classes Taught: Introduction to Ethnic Studies, Racial and Ethnic Inequality, Honors Seminar on Immigration, and Graduate Seminar on Race
Research Interests: Race and Ethnicity, Indigenous Peoples, Border Studies, Political Sociology, Social Movements, Latin America
- Gardner, Jeffrey A. and Patricia Richards. 2019. Indigenous Rights and Neoliberalism in Latin America. The Palgrave Handbook of Ethnicity, edited by S. Ratuva. Pp. 849-865. Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Gardner, Jeffrey A. and Patricia Richards. 2017. The Spatiality of Boundary Work: Political-Administrative Borders and Maya-Mam Collective Identification. Social Problems 64: 439-455.
- Richards, Patricia and Jeffrey A. Gardner. 2013. Still Seeking Recognition: Indigenous Demands, State Violence, and Discrimination in Democratic Chile. Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies 8(3): 255-279.