Kiara Padilla

Portrait of Kiara Padilla

Kiara Padilla (she/her/ella) is a PhD candidate in American Studies with a graduate minor in Race, Indigeneity, Disability, Gender, and Sexuality. Her work is guided by her commitments to social justice as a Xicana abolition feminist born and raised in the San Fernando Valley within greater Los Angeles in addition to growing up with family in the Tijuana, Baja California and San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora borderlands. These multiple localities influenced Kiara to ask questions about migration and belonging, especially in relation to the US-Mexico border. At California State University Northridge, Kiara earned Bachelor degrees in Psychology and Chicana/o Studies where she developed interdisciplinary research interests regarding migrant criminality.

At the University of Minnesota, Kiara’s dissertation, Border Abolition in (Re)integration Support: Incarceration, Deportation, and an Abolitionist Praxis in the Tijuana Borderlands, employs autoethnography and testimonio methods to examine the ways formerly incarcerated deportees and their networks of support illuminate an abolitionist praxis that specifically contests and navigates a binational carceral regime in the Tijuana-California region that has incarcerated and deported Mexicano/Chicano migrants through shifting iterations over time. Grounded in her own familial and community experiences, Kiara’s dissertation places community-based research in conversation with scholarship in critical carceral studies, relational ethnic studies, women of color feminisms, and Chicanx/Latinx Studies to dialogue about the (im)possibilities of carceral abolition in the Tijuana-California region. Kiara’s work has been supported by the University of Minnesota's Diversity of Views and Experiences Fellowship, Leadership, Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Fellowship, and the Ford Foundation's Dissertation Fellowship.

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