I am an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Riverside. I received my PhD from Princeton University’s Department of Sociology in January 2015, and was a 2016-2017 Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Center for Institutional Diversity at the University of Michigan. I previously taught in Bryn Mawr College’s Growth and Structure of Cities Department.
I study culture, power and history, with a focus on borders and empire. Using both qualitative and quantitative methods, I’ve examined globalized travel, World Heritage sites, ships, and legally plural, foreign-controlled places I call “global borderlands.” I’ve also written about transparency and positionality in field work.
My first book, Global Borderlands: Fantasy, Violence, and Empire in Subic Bay, Philippines, is forthcoming (September 2019) from Stanford University Press. In it, I use Subic Bay as a case to study global borderlands: places controlled by foreigners and ones where the rules that govern socio-economic life differ from those that are outside its walls. I analyze a wide-array of situations and contexts: from military agreements and taxes, to intimate relations, high-profile court cases, working, and shopping to show how within these spaces sovereignty is contingent and continually negotiated, identities are constantly re-imagined, and foreigners and locals both exert power to various degrees. In order to understand these complex negotiations, we have to understand how these features of culture, power, and the law interact with one another and the role of stakes.
I’m currently working on my second book project, tentatively titled Reputation: How Authors and Audiences Racialize and Gender Place, in collaboration with graduate students Elizabeth Bogumil and Levin Welch and a team of undergraduate students. Here we examine how different sources of reputation, their authors and audiences (newspapers, online forums, travel guides, governments), differently shape the cultural wealth (how reputation shapes economic activity) of Subic Bay, Philippines. I’ve received funding for this project from an ASA and NSF Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline grant and a UCR Blum Initiative on Global and Regional Poverty Faculty Research Seed Grant.
In addition to being at the data analysis stage for my second book project, I’m in the project planning and grant writing stage for my third book project, which is solo-authored. This project shifts focus from the Philippines and U.S.-Philippine relations to the role of the U.S. in the world and its status as a mixed empire. I will be presenting this work, tentatively titled American Empire: How Place Shapes Power, at the 2nd Chicago Area Comparative Historical Social Sciences Conference at Northwestern and the 2019 Junior Scholars Workshop at the Law and Society Association’s annual meeting in Washington, DC.
Finally, my work has been published in Social Forces, Ethnography, Theory and Society, City & Community, Poetics, and International Journal of Comparative Sociology, among other outlets. I’ve also written for The Conversation, the Monkey Cage at the Washington Post, and Inside Higher Ed and received fellowships from the Institute of International Education (2006-2007 Fulbright Scholar to the Philippines), the National Science Foundation (2009-2012 Graduate Research Fellowship), and the American Sociological Association (2014 cohort, Minority Fellowship Program).
Follow me on Twitter: @victoriadreyes