Dr. Vanessa Díaz is an educator and media professional who specializes in areas of labor, race, and gender, particularly in relation to media and popular culture across the Americas. With nearly two decades of corporate and independent media experience, including work in newspaper, radio, digital media, print magazine, photography, media relations, and documentary film, Díaz applies this professional knowledge to both her academic work and corporate consulting in order to develop practical, yet empirically grounded solutions.
She earned her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Michigan and is currently Assistant Professor of Chicana/o/x and Latina/o/x Studies at Loyola Marymount University (LMU), where she teaches courses focused on such topics as race, intersectionality, media, and activism. Prior to LMU, Díaz held academic positions at Dartmouth College, UCLA, Cal State Fullerton, University of Southern California (USC), University of Michigan, and the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History and National Portrait Gallery. Across these various institutions, she has taught such courses as “Diversity and Racial Conflict,” “Media, Race, and Representations,” and “Critical Approaches to Media Production,” as well as delivered lectures and facilitated workshops on related topics. During her time at UCLA, Díaz co-authored the UCLA Bunche Center for African American Studies’ Fourth Annual “Hollywood Diversity Report”–a study that continually demonstrates both the ethical and fiscal importance of diversity in film and television.
At UCLA, she also co-founded HateCrimeMap.com, a user-generated digital mapping site that tracks hate crimes and harassment since the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Inspired by her many years as a reporter for People magazine, Díaz has adapted her doctoral research on the politics of race and gender in the labor of celebrity reporters and photographers into a book entitled Manufacturing Celebrity: Latino Paparazzi and Women Reporters in Hollywood, published with Duke University Press. In addition to her research on media and popular culture in the United States, Díaz also has also spent the last 15 years researching issues around race and gender in media and popular culture in the Caribbean. Díaz has authored editorials focused on such issues as race, language, and gender in the workplace, and is also called upon by publications ranging from The Atlantic to the Los Angeles Times to comment upon major events in popular culture. She is able to provide the necessary context to understand how and why such events capture the American popular imagination, while simultaneously revealing the hidden labor and racial struggles involved in the production of media.
Díaz’s dynamic professional experiences have provided her with a unique set of tools that facilitate her ability to assist both corporate and academic clients in reaching their full potential in areas of inclusivity and marketing.
Rosa, J. and Díaz, V. (2020), Raciontologies: Rethinking Anthropological Accounts of Institutional Racism and Enactments of White Supremacy in the United States. American Anthropologist, 122: 120-132.