Olguín, Ben

Robert and Liisa Erickson Presidential Chair in English
Director, The Global Latinidades Project


Ph.D., Stanford University, 1996
M.A., Stanford University, 1992
B.A. with Honors, University of Houston, 1989

Ben V. Olguín is the Robert and Liisa Erickson Presidential Chair in English, and the Director of the Global Latinidades Project, in the English Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University, and has held Ford Postdoctoral and National Endowment for the Humanities Faculty Research Fellowships. He has served on the faculty in the English departments at Cornell University and the University of Texas at San Antonio, with visiting appointments in the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

Olguín’s interdisciplinary areas of expertise include Chicanx and Latinx Literary and Cultural Studies, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, American and Latin American Studies, Postcolonial Studies, Speculative literature and film, Human Rights theory and praxis, Marxist and materialist theories, Medical Humanities, and Creative Writing. His research, writing, teaching, and service activities explore the complex relationships between vernacular culture and performances of power and counter-power in local, transnational, cross-border, and hemispheric venues. He pursues this inquiry through interdisciplinary diachronic studies of institutions and contexts, where intersecting and often conflicting cultures, identities, and ideologies are negotiated through literature, performance, and visual expression.

In addition to articles published in Cultural Critique, American Literary History, Aztlán, Frontiers, Biography, MELUS, and Nepantla, Olguín is the author of La Pinta: Chicana/o History, Culture, and Politics (University of Texas Press, 2010), and Violentologies: Violence and Ontology in Latinx Literature, Film, and Popular Culture, which is currently under review. He is co-editor with Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez (School of Journalism, University of Texas, Austin) of Latina/os and WWII: Mobility, Agency, and Ideology (University of Texas Press, 2014), and co-editor with Cathryn Josefina Merla-Watson (English Department, University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley) of Altermundos: Latin@ Speculative Literature, Film, and Popular Culture (University of Washington Press, 2017). He is a member of the Macondo Writers Workshop, founded by Sandra Cisneros, and has authored two collections of poetry, Red Leather Gloves (Hansen Publishing, 2014) and At the Risk of Seeming Ridiculous: Poems from Cuba Libre (Aztlán Libre Press, 2014). His current research includes a third research monograph, Red Raza: Excavations of the Latinx Literary Left; a co-edited anthology on Latinx embodied gnosis in sports literature, film, and performance, Latinx in Motion: Embodied Sports Facultades; a collection of poetry based on his experiences as a volunteer medic, Pericardial Tamponade, Or This is How You Die; a collection of speculative short stories, Mountain Time; and a collection of testimonial essays, Desde Abajo/From Below: Localized Globalities & Cultural Critique in the Post-American Century.

Olguín’s research and teaching are integrated into community service and civic engagement activities across a range of initiatives. These include service learning projects in community centers and schools in underserved communities, as well as prisons, juvenile jails, and immigrant detention centers. He also is a member of the Venceremos Brigade, a civilian organization that promotes people-to-people diplomacy through volunteer education and labor activities in Cuba.

Chicanx and Latinx Literary and Cultural Studies
Multiethnic Literatures of the U.S.
Critical Race and Ethnic Studies
American Studies
Latin American Studies
Postcolonial Studies
Speculative Arts
Medical Humanities
Creative Writing



South Hall 2715

Office Hours: 

Spring 2020 - Please email for appointment.


(805) 893-4622



Mailing Address: 

English Department
UC Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9580


American Literature
Creative Writing
Post-Colonial Studies
American Race and Ethnic Studies

Research Interests: 

  • Organic Intellectuals
  • Ideologies of Globalization
  • Posthumanisms
  • Materialusms and Material Culture
  • Popular and Vernacular Cultures
  • Embodied Poetics
  • Life Writing Genres
  • Gnosis and Poetics
  • Human Rights Theory and Praxis



La Pinta: Chicana/o Prisoner Literature, Culture, and Politics

Altermundos: Latin@ Speculative Literature, Film, and Popular Culture

Latina/os and World War II: Mobility, Agency, and Ideology

Cantos de Adolescencia/Songs of Youth by Américo Paredes (1932-1937)

Red Leather Gloves

At the Risk of Seeming Ridiculous: Poems from Cuba Libre

Violence, Identity, and Ideology in Latina/o Literature (Available in January 2021)



Recent Courses Taught