Your Shadow Advisor

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Your host interviews Dr. Victoria Reyes about her book, Academic Outsider, in addition to other topics related to navigating higher education.

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Your host interviews Dr. Victoria Reyes about her book, Academic Outsider, in addition to other topics related to navigating higher education.

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  • Victoria Reyes is an Associate Professor of Gender & Sexuality Studies at University of California Riverside. She is a sociologist and gender scholar who studies culture, borders, and empires. Her research and teaching interests include culture, global and transnational sociology, economic sociology, urbanism, historical/comparative sociology, qualitative methods, race/ethnicity, gender, and law and society. Dr. Reyes is author of the multi-award winning book Global Borderlands: Fantasy, Violence and Empire in Subic Bay, Philippines (published in 2019 by Stanford University Press) and Academic Outsider: Stories of Exclusion and Hope, which was just published in July 2022 through Stanford Briefs, an imprint of Stanford University Press. 
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What is Your Shadow Advisor?

A show about navigating higher education’s hidden curriculum as a first-generation scholar of color.

Darrel Wanzer-Serrano: Thanks
again for listening in to Your

Shadow Advisor, a weekly program
about navigating higher

education from a first
generation person of color

perspective. I'm your host
Professor Darrel Wanzer-Serrano.

Y'all I'm really excited to be
doing the recording this week

because I'm talking to a guest
with an amazing new book that I

think basically everyone in
higher education should read.

Victoria Reyes is an associate
professor of Gender and

Sexuality Studies at the
University of California

Riverside. She is a sociologist
and gender scholar who studies

culture, borders and Empire. Her
research and teaching interests

include culture, global and
transnational sociology,

economics, sociology, urbanism,
historical comparative

sociology, qualitative methods,
race, ethnicity, gender and law

in society. Dr. Reyes is author
of the multi award winning book,

global Borderlands fantasy
violence and Empire in Subic

Bay, Philippines, and academic
outsiders stories of exclusion

and hope, which was just
published in July 2022. Through

Stanford briefs and imprint of
Stanford University Press,

Victoria, and I don't kind of go
way back, we actually just talk

to each other. For the first
time a few minutes ago, I

learned about her book from a
mutual friend and knew from the

moment I saw the title that I
wanted to meet and interview her

for the podcast. So thank you
for being here with me. Academic

outsider is a brave and
outstanding accomplishment,

addressing the ways in which
minoritized scholars are betwixt

in between, allotted for our
accomplishments while

marginalized by structural
inequalities inherent to the

racialized and gendered
organizations of Higher

Education. Dr. Rios writes with
eloquence and a fine critical

edge as she interrogates the
systems, she has navigated from

graduate school through the
tenure track to the present.

Having made the mistake of
obnoxiously marking in my copy

in red pen, I'm totally going to
have to buy a second one just

alone out because my pages are
too marked up with exclamation

marks, stars exclamatory, yeses
and profanities of agreement. To

be sure, hers is a unique story,
but it's also one that so so

many of us can and will identify
with. So thank you, Victoria,

for the gift of your scholarship
and for sharing virtual space

with me today.

Victoria Reyes: Oh, thank you,
Gerald, so much for your kind

introduction and words, I'm
like, Oh, can you write that

blurb it out? It's I'm so
excited to be here to talk with

you. And just really kind of
blown away by your kind words,

right? Like, it's terrifying to
put this book out there. And

yeah, I'm just blown away. So
thank you so much.

Darrel Wanzer-Serrano: Yeah, I
mean, my pleasure, it really, I

mean, every single word of it,
it really is an amazing book. I

can't wait to read it again. And
can't wait to, to have students

of mine read it and to just kind
of like hang copies out,

basically. So I've warned you in
advance. One thing I like to do

on interviews, is to start with
with with a kind of common

question. And my common question
is, what I frame is the

superhero question. And the
question goes like this, what is

your superhero origin story? How
did you get started in your path

in higher education to go to
grad school to enter

professional life, etc? And what
motivated you and what enabled

your movement into these spaces?

Victoria Reyes: Yeah, thanks for
that. That's, you know, I think

as everyone does, I have a long
version and a short version,

I'll try to give you a middle
version, or the short version.

So when I was an undergrad, I
went to the Ohio State

University. And I was really
involved in a lot of kind of

student groups and fights for
ethnic studies, but I also

volunteered a lot. So I, you
know, and I've had a job since I

was 14, and I was working at Old
Navy, first, first under the

table at a Chinese fast food
restaurant, then Arby's, and

then Old Navy until I didn't
work in retail anymore. And but

I also worked as a part time
house manager at a domestic

violence shelter, I volunteered
at a suicide prevention hotline.

And through that work, I worked
for a nonprofit organization on

homelessness and housing in
Ohio. And I realized I do not

have the mental fortitude for
direct service work. And also,

just kind of the gendered racism
in that kind of work, too. I

mean, I think this gets to your
later question. I'm not sure if

I would have known what I know
now about academia. I'm not sure

I would have gone into it. And
so so one of the things was I I

took a Asian American Women's
History class with Judy Wu, who

is now at UCI. And one of those
assignments was I did a oral

history of my grandmother. And
that was the only way she would

let me talk to her about her
life, because otherwise she

didn't want to talk about it.
And it really sparked what we

call our sociological
imagination, right? How private

troubles and public issues are
entwined. And so I did kind of a

creative piece for that. And
then I wanted to do a thesis.

And, you know, Judy was on
sabbatical. And then I took a

sociology class with Rachel
Dwyer. She was an assistant

professor, and I asked her if
she would, if she would be my

thesis advisor, I wanted to
interview other women who

migrated through marriage to US
servicemen. And then I was able

to do that. And then when I was
I've been I went to a Heritage

Program in the Philippines,
probably the summer before that,

and then a Fulbright after
graduation with the

encouragement of Rachel. And
when I was there for the

Heritage Program. That was when
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, GMA was

kind of all of these protests
against her and kind of the

phone call to Garcia and all of
these things about Philippine

politics, and the program
director would take us to these

protests. And there were some
people who had kind of dress up

as like the Statue of Liberty
and, and I was like, what's

going on? What what happened
with the Constitution, you know,

I just wanted to know more. And
then I was told, like, why,

like, this is just the way it
is. And so then I also realized,

like, I'm an academic, I want
questions, puzzles. And then I

applied to for grad schools, and
luckily, was able to get into

all four. But that's kind of how
it was kind of this navigation

of like direct service work of
nonprofits, but then also

realizing that scratch in my
head, or that thing I was always

thinking about was the puzzles,
right? And then being an

observer, you know, I write
about this an academic outsider,

but I've always been an
observer, an outsider, even in

my own life. And I think all of
those kind of came together.

Darrel Wanzer-Serrano: Yeah, I
mean, given that, that kind of

winding path into into graduate
school, how prepared Do you

think you were to start graduate
school? And how much access Do

you think you had to the kind of
like, knowledge of what makes

people successful in graduate
school? What, what people call

and you refer to in your book,
as well as the Hidden

Curriculum? Well, there's

Victoria Reyes: two answers to
that. And that's one of when I

applied to grad school and what
I was thinking, and that's like,

I, you know, like, I'm trying to
figure out the rules and

thinking if I, if I know the
rules, if I know the hidden

curriculum, even if I do it, I
can be successful, that there's,

you know, meritocracy, right.
It's very naive. And then what I

know now, and thinking, I didn't
know anything, I mean, I

remember my first year in grad
school was the hardest, it was

the hardest, culturally going
to, I went to Princeton. I

didn't know anything. I never
read Marx before. So even in

theory class, I was like, I
don't know what this person is

saying. Like, it was so hard to
read, how I think Marx is

beautiful, or whatever. But I
remember just always reading and

studying, I had an I took one
sociology class before going

into grad school. And I would
just work nonstop and, and

didn't really feel like I knew
anything at all, and always felt

kind of behind and, and but
trying to be a quick study,

trying just soak up things
through observation, trying to,

you know, figure out the rules,
but also always seeing like, you

know, I love my cohort, I'm
actually very lucky. I think our

cohort was very supportive. But
there was also a tiered system

to our cohort, right? In terms
of, you know, faculty and and

you can see that even where
people ended up and, you know,

the three men in my cohort, who
are all great, you know, and,

but they're the only ones who
got tenure track positions in

sociology right out of grad
school, and now they are, you

know, at top five, universities
and sociology. And some of the

women left the women of color to
black women left my cohort. The

women who got tenure track jobs,
their first jobs, including

mine, were in interdisciplinary
departments. I was the only

person I think, who got a
liberal arts job. So there was

also kind of these dynamics
reflecting back whereas when I'm

there I just kind of tried to
put my head down and hustle,

right? Like I was like, This is
what I need to do to get by. So

I think that there are different
levels of the answer depending

on who you're talking to. But I,
you know, I didn't know what I

didn't know. And I tried to be
optimistic, but I was not

prepared. And I tried everything
I could do to soak up to kind of

feel like I belonged. And part
of that was also joining like a

women of color, a community that
was university wide and wasn't

in the Department of Sociology,
and being involved in those

kinds of things. And then once
you're on your dissertation, you

didn't have to be there anymore.

Darrel Wanzer-Serrano: Right. So
I mean, it sounds like you'd say

that, that that the your level
of preparation for grad school

coming in differed a bit from
some of your peers. What do you

think were the biggest factors?
I mean, you hinted at it just

now in your answer, but for what
do you think were the biggest

factors structuring some of
those differences? Well, I

Victoria Reyes: think a lot I
think family background, right.

My grandma, you know, didn't go
to college, my mom got high

school education. I think that
financially, right, I think all

of these things, socioeconomic
background, race, gender. There

were a lot of people in my
cohort who, you know, already

kind of knew some of the rules,
because they had family members

who were, you know, academics,
and who went to kind of ivy

league, or these top schools,
you know, Ohio State is a great

school. But other people went to
like Harvard or other places. So

I think that there's just in all
the ways that many of us

continue to be excluded, and an
outsider because of our

background, when we are even
privileged enough to hold tenure

track jobs, or tenure stream
jobs are very similar at the

graduate school level.

Darrel Wanzer-Serrano: Yeah. So
what was it? You mentioned, you

mentioned joining the student
organization, right? What other

kinds of resources and including
that one, did you find at the

time, were most helpful for you
to find your way? Like, what

were the things that the groups
or, or the, the resources that

you read, or the mentors that
you connected with, that helped

you kind of find your footing?
And, and push through, like,

what worked best? And why?

Victoria Reyes: Yeah, I mean, I
think it was this woman of color

group. So it's really in my
first two or three years, that

probably mattered the most,
because that's when you're

taking coursework, your general
exam, etc, I really felt like I

could. So we had starting so at
the time, we had kind of two

empirical paper requirements in
graduate school, and the first

you went through this kind of
seminar, Mark roof kind of

taught ours and so it was a
structure to help us get to kind

of publishable or as much as
publishable, but as a grad

student can write in a term, or
in a year paper, the second

paper that was a requirement, we
didn't have that. But I couldn't

have done it, I still meet with
a group of women that I started

with. And so it started off
bigger. It started off with

maybe, I want to say five or six
of us, and they were all women,

some women of color, Asian
American women and white women,

some are first generation but we
would meet regularly to kind of

workshop our second paper, and
then it became prospectus

dissertation, and then articles
and we still meet we don't meet

this regularly anymore. But now
this is, you know, I started

grad school and I think 2008 Our
second paper was probably 2010.

So we've been meeting over a
decade, and this is what I think

like, it's about community. And
it's about we didn't even study

similar things, right? I still
study global stuff I study you

know, ever this, the people I
still meet, you know, Aaron does

religion, and Joanne does
education and which is funny,

this book is about education,
but I'm not I don't consider

myself a sociologist of
education. Maybe I am now. But

we It wasn't necessarily the
topic right? Finding some people

with the same topic, but it was
people to read he'd write people

to read and to give feedback.
That's probably the biggest

thing. And then mentors, mentors
who allowed me to pursue my

interest, right? Like I've had
bad experiences in grad school

with a few people. But the two
people like I was closest to

kind of just let me this. And
this is the kind of mentor I

like to think I am or I aspire
to be, who just weren't who

wanted me to kind of be the
scholar that I wanted. They

weren't trying to replicate
themselves. They were trying to

help me theoretically
methodologically as much as they

could content wise, no one did
the Philippines, you know, and

no one really did empire, Miguel
probably does the closest he

does war and violence. And so
those were kind of the main

things. And then, you know, at
Princeton, most people kind of

moved away after you did your
general exams. And then, you

know, I had a life after, you
know, when I was writing my

dissertation after fieldwork,
right. So I lived in the

Philippines for my fieldwork,
and I came back and, you know,

by the time I was on the job
market, I was pregnant. And so I

think those the mentors, I was
able to find who weren't the

mentors, I originally thought I
would have in grad school,

right? You're supposed to pick
the few but those weren't the

people I picked, but I'm so
lucky and so grateful for the

mentors that I've had. I didn't
think I'd be an economic

sociologist and to me, that's
one of my core identities as a

scholar. And Viviana Zelizer is
amazing as Miguel Centeno.

Darrel Wanzer-Serrano: Yeah,
that's great. I mean, how much

just to kind of like, approach
this with a with a with a really

fine distinction? How much did
they do you think those those

mentors in encouraged you to
kind of like, let you do what

you wanted to do the kind of
like a kind of passive approach

of letting you do those things,
versus how many of them

encourage you to explore these
areas, that that maybe other

people in your, in your program
and in your field weren't

exploring? But, but they saw
that you could fulfill that


Victoria Reyes: Yeah, I don't
know. I think the other that one

thing that I learned later on is
I also don't know to what extent

people and I think it's true
preference, you don't know the

extent to which people advocate
for you. Right. It wasn't until

much later, I realized that, you
know, Viviana had asked for a

sell brainiacs, who is now a
good friend of mine to meet with

me, right, I had just reached
out to her and I thought, you

know, she was just like, Okay,
I'll meet with you. And then,

you know, we became friends. And
she's a mentor. I didn't learn

too later that that Viviana
actually asked her right and did

like these behind the scenes. So
I think that there are things we

don't know that mentors do. And
I think that you know, that

there's different kinds of
mentorship. And I think that the

mentorship I received was the
kind of mentorship that I needed

and, and was able to kind of
thrive, I think, that there's

this differentiation. And I
talked about this, an academic

outsider maybe would have some
mentors who line by line, reword

and work and you know, those
people have like, one person,

then their apprentice, and they
really do that. And if they have

other students, they don't
really do anything with them.

Right. You have other students,
other faculty who co write books

with, you know, students. For
me, you know, I am part of this

may also be like, I think I was
just grateful to be in the room

pick, because the thing is,
people don't have to invest

their time, right, like, and so
I'm, I consider myself very

lucky to be able to find those
mentors who again, I hadn't

identified I hadn't thought I
would work with, but they

invested their time into me, and
whether that was a mix of

passive or active. I think that
you know, one thing. So one

thing a graduate student,
Filipino graduate student at

Ohio State told me when I went
to grad school, and I thought

these words really stuck with
me. He's like, You should think

of your career as three things
right? Content methods theory,

you are probably never going to
get all three in one place. And

so you should pick which one or
two you want the most training

in, right? And so for me, I
really I felt like I didn't know

anything about theory or
methods, right? I was an

international studies, major and
psychology. And so I was like, I

want training and methods and
theories. And I knew content

wise, that there wasn't going to
be necessarily anyone who did

anything at my graduate program.
And I do think I would be a

different scholar today if I
went to a different program,

right, the training that you
receive at graduates school like

the cultural approach at
Princeton, being an economic

sociologist, you know, taking
those classes with Viviana

really shaped my thinking and my

Darrel Wanzer-Serrano: Yeah,
yeah, for sure. For sure. I love

that. I love that, that kind of
like three things to look for

the content, the method and the
theory, I like that I'm gonna,

I'm gonna, I hadn't, I hadn't
quite thought of it exactly

those terms, in part, because I
come from a field that that

oftentimes doesn't explicitly
think about and reflect on

method like, don't you know, in
rhetorical studies, it is, it is

not uncommon to lack a method
section in a paper, right. So it

doesn't like structure the field
in quite the same way as as as

social sciences. But I really
liked that. That's helpful. So,

you know, you've mentioned it a
few times, and we've and we've

kind of danced around a little
bit. Let's talk. Okay. So, So to

kick things off, what's your
what's your like, one minute

version of your book? What's it
about? Who's it for? Who's it

not for?

Victoria Reyes: So I know you
sent me this beforehand, and I

should be prepared. But I am so
always bad at the elevator

pitch, right? You're asking me
to do an elevator pitch. And I'm

like, Yeah, my books, even my
first book, I'm like, each essay

does something different. But
really, this book is about

theorizing, from my personal
experiences, what it means to be

excluded in everyday life and
using the Academy. And this is

where I think it's important.
You know, we often think of the

university life and the Academy
as some exceptional space

because we study, you know, many
people study inequality, not

everybody, but many people do,
right? So we study these things.

And we think that we're
exceptional, but, but actually,

it's workplace, right? And so
really thinking about the

exclusionary processes and
practices that push people to

the margins, and conversely,
what pushes people to the

center? That would be my one
minute, like, what is that book

about? That? Who is it for? So
again, like, I think there's the

answer you're supposed to tell.
But the real answer, right is, I

wrote this book for myself.
Yeah, I wrote this book, because

I needed to, because when COVID
Shut Down schools, and my then

kindergartener who she was five,
and then, okay, they're like,

four years apart. So he was one,
I'm like, I don't know, they're

eight, they're eight and four
now, but then my kids, you know,

just just a few months before
the COVID, shut down, my

grandma, who lives with me, you
know, she raised me and now

she's helping me raise my kids
had a heart attack. And that was

that changed my life completely.
And then a few months later, the

COVID shutdowns, kids are at
school kids continue to be

virtual, all of 2020 2021. And I
felt like I was failing at not

didn't just feel I was failing
at everything, I just felt like

I, I just couldn't, I couldn't
do anything. And so for me,

writing is a way of thinking it
was a way of processing, you

know, I've had decades of
therapy because of my

relationship with my mom, and,
and all these other things. So I

think that the pandemic
collapsed, a lot of these kind

of boxes, I would place parts of
myself in, right, like, so

here's my therapy, and my
family, here's this, here's my

work life, here's this, and the
pandemic just kind of shattered

at all. And so this, I couldn't
focus on my empirical project

anymore. But I needed to write,
I needed to, that's also another

reason I think, like, I'm a
writer. And so this is what came

out even the first, it's not the
first but I think of it as the

first chapter, the unloving
worth essay where I get really

personal about my mom and, and,
you know, I talk about how she

would say, she wishes she would
have had an abortion, I should

have never been bored, I was a
bad seed. You know, I that just

poured out of me, you know, and
then I was like reading, you

know, writing personal and then
trying to read and do all of

this stuff. And the only
revisions it's had, you know,

and it is because of a
developmental editor because I

would get feedback and I was
just like, I can't, I can't like

I can't revise this I could
revise the other ones are still

personal, but there's something
like so close to this. And so

the developmental editor Audra
Wolf. Outside reader is really

amazing. And, and she really
helped clarify, but I think back

to when I wrote it, and I'm
like, I don't know, I've

miniature answers. I'm gonna get
bored out of me. And then I'm

reading and then I'm reading
more and then I'm talking about

new things. And so it all As my
way of processing, this trauma

of the pandemic, and deaths and
all of these things.

So it was written for me. Now I
would say, Who is this book for?

I'd say this book is for anyone
who has been an academic outside

anyone who has been an outsider
in a workplace, particularly

racialized outsiders. But also,
I think there are more ways than

one though, we're outsiders. I
also think tenured people should

read it, right? Because it
shouldn't just be on, you know,

marginalized peoples to enact
change that people need to

recognize, I feel like the more
you get in your career, the you

forget, right, you forget how
hard it was beforehand, or the

differences between, you know,
yourself and people coming in, I

think who it's not for, right,
as is. And there's a lot of

people like that academics who
don't think microaggressions are

a thing, right? Like, I don't
think they will, I don't think

they would read this. And if
they did, they wouldn't get

anything out of it, except to
kind of dismiss me as a not

serious scholar. But my hope is
that it can serve as a way of

people realizing they're not
alone, that they belong, right.

They do belong in the academy.
There are others like them, and

then also ways to kind of move
forward, right, and to remind

tenured people in particular,
although I don't buy into the

narrative that it's only tenured
people who can act change. I

think everyone can, yeah. But
they're the ones who are in that

position to enact more
structural change. Right. Yeah,

absolutely. So that's who it's

Darrel Wanzer-Serrano: Yeah.
Yeah. No, I mean, I totally

think that, that that, yeah. For
me, from my perspective, right.

Yeah, tenure people can really
benefit from the perspectives

offered, in part because it'll
get them to, I think, I hope

think more critically about the
ways in which the institutions

that they're a part of
governing, right, as as much as

faculty values, faculty
governance exists, still,

they're a part of governing and
a part of perpetuating, right.

So it gives them some clarity,
hopefully, to be able to, to

find ways to make those that
institution more just and to

challenge the the kind of
exclusionary policies and

practices and procedures and
cultures that are in place. And

for people who are on the tenure
track, or who are graduate

students to to give them that,
that sense of I really, I

really, truly believe, right,
that they'll the people read it

and say, Gosh, I, I feel seen.
This is a thing. This is my

reality. I haven't seen it put
so clearly. So I suspect and I

would encourage people to to
write you a nice little note.

Hey, thank you.

Victoria Reyes: Yeah, yeah, we
don't get that often enough. But

I try to I try to do it. I'm not
the best. But I think I mean,

that's where kind of, you know,
when I talk to particularly

students, anyway, and even
people reflect it to myself,

right? Because it's easier to
give advice. And then people

tell me the same thing is the
more specific you are in some

cases, then the more theoretical
you can be, because it's only by

routing and the very specific
that we can kind of think about

the more general and I want to
say, because I want to say I do

you read Inside Higher Ed.
Right. Do you ever read it?

Yeah, I saw every day every
weekday and today, there was

this ridiculous anonymous essay
about Yeah, yes, d i, and when I

read it, and they're like, see,
I am a champion for DDI, I

served as head of the search
committee, and we hired someone

who was marginalized. And then I
sat on these committees, and

they're like, see, I'm a
proponent of DEI. And I was

like, this is that's not how it
works, right? Like that's not a

that's a very kind of
superficial level commitment to

kind of equity, to inclusion to
really understanding things and

then saying, Well, we're
redlining and and this person,

right. They're anonymous, knew
how to use and Co Op the

language and Co Op kind of what
they saw as Oh, they think

redlining that, that I don't
mean to use it as a way to kind

of dismiss people who have BIPOC
people who've been hurt. But in

fact, I'm going to do it anyway.
Right. And this is why like, it

was just the most ridiculous
thing. But as you're talking

that's what made me think of is
because it lies much deeper in

the practices and the ways we
evaluate one another. And, and

not just kind of serving on a
committee, hiring a person of

color. What a like, Are you
committed to helping those

people kind of thrive and not
just survive? Are they rotating

out and what kind of scholarship
and you know, because often,

people don't really want quote
unquote, to versity they want

someone who doesn't look like
them, but who thinks like them?

Right? Right, who thinks like in
sociology, like empiricist and

thinks like them in terms of
research, but not really like

the critical thinking. Right.
So. So yeah, I mean, I think my

book is almost a response to
that, that it's not just about,

oh, you hired, you know, to
people of color, right? That's

your kind of commitment to
diversity. It doesn't work like

that. That's not how people are
excluded. Right? that not all of

it, that is how people are
excluded. But that's not I don't

know, I just, I read that this
morning. And I was just like, I

doing visual medium.

Darrel Wanzer-Serrano: I don't I
don't have a sound effect for I

roll I don't think but I had the
I had like the same reaction to

it. I saw it. I was like, Wait,
what is this? And I started

reading through it. I was like,
oh, rage filling me. And then I

like put it aside. I'm like, No,
I'm doing this interview soon. I

want to be in a happy place. I
don't need to go. Rage posting

on the interwebs. But, but but
but I might put a link to it in

the show notes, especially if
there's a response to it. Or

maybe I'll just post the
response to it. Because I didn't

have a doubly linked to the
original. But maybe maybe you

should write a response to it.

Victoria Reyes: Yeah, I was
thinking but then I'm, you know,

one thing I'm learning. So I've
been so stretched thin and as

many of us are. It's like where
do I want to put my energy and

time? And do I want to I like
had written a piece. That's

something different, but it's
like, where do we want to put

our time? Do I want to put my
time giving this anonymous

essay, the person didn't even
want to kind of put their name

in part because of the backlash.
Right? Right. And it's, if you

have these opinions, right, then
you need to be able to withstand

question and critical thinking
about what's going on. And so

that I like I was, I was gonna
ask, like, should I tweet about

this? Should I not? And I was
like, You know what? I am trying

to save my energy similar to
you. And putting it there is not

the most productive use of time.
I've limited time. What else can

I do? And I'm behind it. So many
things. So

Darrel Wanzer-Serrano: Oh, my
gosh, yes. Yeah, I mean, you

know, it's, I think the
experience of, of marginalized

folks in the academy, right is
one that results in being tired.

I mean, you're right about that
in your book, right? In the

chapter on on conditional
citizenship, I'm gonna, I'm

gonna do the the like, author
meets critic thing. For a

second. You're, you're kind of
you're kind of framing framing

parts of the project and say,
what does it mean for me to be

breaking that silence now to be
sharing these private

experiences in a book published
by an Academic Press, it means

I'm tired, exhausted by the
constant labor of managing a

Presentation of Self that is
stripped down devoid of any

remnants of who I am, or how I
grew up. And that that kind of

like that, that pressure on our
identities, right, within higher

education, right, does so often
result in and not just in time

to the pandemic, right, as if,
as if that could ever be a just,

but it results in us being
exhausted? Right? This this?

Yeah, this op ed today, right?
It's just looking at it going? I

don't want to say anything.
First. I want to be in a good

headspace. But also, I'm just
tired of this.

Victoria Reyes: Yeah. Yeah. And
it's, and I think that, you

know, the response that people
then give is, say no, or you're

bringing it on, you're like,
they don't understand the mental

and emotional labor, right. That
goes on and kind of commitments,

that there's this neoliberal
individualism that, you know,

especially in the US, that's the
kind of us broad kind of culture

but in, in academia in
particular, right, it's the

focus on ourselves, when that's
not the case for many of us. And

the other thing is, like, I
think that people in my

experience, who are the ones, in
my opinion, pushing people out,

don't understand identity as a
structural positions, that these

are structural positions. It's
not, it's it's a way of being

treated of exclusion. It's our
experiences growing up are

different. It's the ways in
which all of these things right.

Black feminists have been
writing about for a very long

time. And that's what I think
people don't understand. That's

what that anonymous writer
doesn't understand and that

Inside Higher Ed piece, so yeah,
but it's tiring. I'm exhausted.

And you know, I, someone who I
used to work with would probably

say, well, it's your choice to
have kids. It's your choice to

serve on these committees. It's
your choice to do this. It's

your choice to give money to
family in the Philippines. It's

your choice and That's just
like, tiring.

Darrel Wanzer-Serrano: Yeah,
absolutely. To bring us back to,

to some other kind of specific
points in the, in the book. You

know, one of the concepts that
you that you that you engage in

critical ways is this concept of
the of the hidden curriculum.

And this has been written about
a lot lately, right? There's the

there's the book, A Field Guide
to grad school uncovering the

hidden curriculum, which, which
centers that concept, you know,

a lot of hashtag Twitter, work
around that concept bracketing

for a second the criticisms
because I do want to get into

those those criticisms, I think
that you have the you have an

excellent way of doing so. What
does the hidden curriculum as a

framing device get? Right?
Right. So like, what does it get

right? And then, and then after
that, what does it miss?

Victoria Reyes: Yeah, well, so
first, I want to kind of

disclose. And I was kind of
purposeful, this because I was

like, I see this as an
accompaniment to a field guide

to grad school that Jess was one
of the people she's blurbed my

book, she was a reviewer in a
workshop or book workshop I had,

and I really kind of appreciate
her work and her book and, and

getting all this information out
there. And I think that what, as

you mentioned, what the Hidden
Curriculum gets, right is that

people don't have the knowledge,
right, you don't grow up if you

don't grow up with, for example,
in an upper class, or middle

upper class, white household
where, you know, parents as

faculty or as professionals, or
education, they're just things

that you don't know, right. And
so there's so much right, like,

I have a friend, who's one of
the friends from grad school

that I still kind of write with
Joanne weighing Gulin also had

her book out that is, oh, my
gosh, why am I I'm so sorry,

Joanne. But it's about teaching
at a no excuses school with

majority black and brown
students. And what happens

though, is they get taught these
different rules. But it's this

teaching to authority, right, as
opposed to kind of this flexible

curriculum. So anyway, what it
gets, right, is that there are

things that people just don't
know, and you're not taught ways

in which how you talk to
someone, how do you talk to a

professor? How do you kind of
even address them? What are the

ways in which, you know, so many
different things that she

outlines that Jess outlines? In
her books? So well, and I think

that there is a need to kind of
democratize kind of this

information. And I think, you
know, that's part of how I run

some some of my classes. So the
very first day, I go over the

syllabus, I dedicate right, like
right now on Twitter, there's a

lot of like, the anti syllabus
kind of rhetoric, I don't know.

But I think it's so important.
And I go for it, and I go

questions, and I have
explanations. And I'm like, why

do we take this class? And, and
not only these are office hours,

but this is the part of the
class your readings, you're

supposed to get this? Here's my
lecture, right? Like, like, I do

all of that. And I think that
there is an important, scripting

the moves. Pick up my book,
skipping the moves of the

Joanne's book. Sorry. Right. So
So again, like there's so much

on this hidden curriculum, and
of course, Anthony, Anthony Jack

and his privileged poor, right,
look, those are just some of the

major ones. There's so much
information there. But it's not

just about knowing information.
That's not how people are

excluded. Right? It's in the
devaluation and dismissal of

people have experiences of
certain types of work have

certain types of knowledge, of
certain ways of being right. And

so that's where it misses,
right? Like, people can, that's

how that's what's kind of driven
me, like how I've gotten to

where I've gotten is I thought,
If only I can learn the rules of

the game, right? Like, if only I
can do this. And for me, it's

kind of this, this really kind
of search to fill this deep hole

inside me where, you know, I
feel like I'm unworthy. And I'm

unlovable just from you know, my
mom. And so it was this. If only

I could get this award. If only
I could do this. If only I could

do this, that means that I'm
worthy. That means that I'm good

enough. But you know, my book
talks about all the ways in

which like, people are still
dismissed, like it's not just

about knowing information,
knowing information is helpful

and is the first step but we
can't stop there. It's the very

structures and practices that we
really need to kind of

interrogate the foundation. What
advice columns do With hidden

curriculum, it just assumes
that, oh, well, black and brown

scholars and others aren't
exposition because they don't

know enough and it's very, it
can be internalizing. But that's

not the case. It's like active
exclusion, right? Yeah, sorry.

This is not a monologue, this is
a conversation.

Darrel Wanzer-Serrano: So in
your book, you you propose

academic citizenship as a kind
of, I don't wanna say you

propose it as an alternative
frame, but functions kind of as

an alternative frame, it seems
like because it, it both capture

some of those knowledge
practices, right, that are

encompassed by the hidden
curriculum, but a bunch of other

stuff, too. So why is it that
you you know, what, why do you

like that as a frame for
engaging these questions and

issues? And then, you know, the
follow up to that is, what might

it miss?

Victoria Reyes: Yeah, so what I
like about citizenship is when

we think of citizenship, often
people just think of the

legality. But in fact, scholars
have long talks about going from

I went on to more recently, Jean
Beeman, or Layla Lommy, who is a

creative writer, talk about
citizenship, and it's how

culture and politics and
belonging is part of it, right?

But even historically, not
everyone was granted equal

rights in terms of citizenship,
whether that's in the United

States, or the histories of
Empire or anything. And what I

liked about kind of citizenship
is one like other people, Bruce

MacFarlane, I think, talks about
citizenship in terms of service.

And that's often a kind of
common way to think about our

work. Oh, are you being a good
department citizen? Right? Does

that mean? Are you doing the
work? Are you doing like,

committee work, etc. But what I
was really interested in what I

was really frustrated with. And
part of what like, was so

exhausting, is also the rights
people had. So the UC system is,

I really liked the UC system, it
has the potential for I think so

much. But it can be used wrong.
And so then it gets to kind of

when you're not granted voting
rights, but you're still

expected to do all the labor.
And when you're not granted

voting rights, because you know,
your contributions aren't seen

as valid. And so it was, so what
I liked about citizenship is

that in academia, right, and we
think about citizenship and all

of these parts that encompass
rights, responsibilities, about

belonging about marginalization,
and I thought that it could map

on very well, especially after
reading and this is Randall

controller as suggested the
book, The lobby's book about

conditional citizenship, and she
talks about it in terms of more

kind of formal being for Mina
group, and the ways in which

people are denied conditional
citizenship. And the same thing

I think happens in academia. And
that's most people focus on the

surface aspects, but it's really
about the rights and

responsibilities to I think,
what does it miss? I wanted to

say, well, you know, that there
are these stratified right

rights and responsibilities and
the second class kind of, quote,

unquote citizenships whether we
think about precarious academic

labor, which is most of what
university relies on and grad

students, but as you mentioned,
like there's always been second

class citizenship. You know, in
the United States, for example,

particularly against
marginalized groups, whether

that be any kind of combination
of marginality. I think that

kind of thinking about
citizenship in the workplace is

kind of like, is unconventional
and so what does that mean when

we think about citizenship in
the workplace, but for me, what

I really like about it is it's
about kind of thinking about

people as treating people with
dignity and respect and

belonging right and thinking
about rights in response, but I

don't know I don't really have a
good question when it misses are

good answer. Because I do think
it's powerful, but I also know

that this kind of workplace
citizenship, you know that well,

you leave the workplace, you can
move workplace much easier than

kind of a national citizenship
and that there might be those

kinds of things, but I'm
thinking about like pitching

something to her Harvard
Business Review about that, but

I like to I'm still working on
like, I don't know what the

limitations are, how can we
think about it?

Darrel Wanzer-Serrano: Yeah. I
mean, I think one of the things

that that doesn't make it
particularly fitting to, to

higher education, though, is,
has to do with the ways that

higher education is not like any
other business or workplace.

Right? That it you know, that
while it is, you know, at the

end of the day, this is just a
job, right? That we are laborers

in a particular structured and
hierarchical organizational

context. That is, you know, at
the whim of various financial

pressures and exigencies that
it's also more than that in some

ways, right? Like, for example,
our job cycle, right doesn't

follow the same job cycle as
everywhere else, as any other

kind of workplace, right? We
were pretty set cycle and define

hiring and, and, and departure
periods. And that the space is

structured around around
crafting senses of belonging in

implicit and explicit ways.
Right? So like, the higher

education that like students
success success scholarship

right now is very focused on the
kind of power of crafting a

sense of belonging as being key
to success of students, but also

for the success of of faculty,
especially kind of

underrepresented faculty in
higher education. Right.

Belonging is key. Well, this is
a it's a, it's a citizenship

term. And so it is a there's a
there's a rhetoric of

citizenship, right, that even
when the word citizenship isn't

being used, all the kind of
clustered terms right circulate

in this employment context in
this labor context that, that

I'm not saying they don't set to
circulate in other in other

employment contexts. But it's a
core part of what the university

does, and in some ways that the
history of the university in the

United States at least right,
that the universities have been

this kinds of like, laboratories
for democracy is not the is not

the right way to put it. But
part of the mission of

Universities, right, you know,
even like the land grant

universities, which are built
upon the dispossession, stealing

of native lands, is explicitly
also framed as a democratizing

mission for the university right
of getting all these farmers,

right, educated to be capable
citizens in the world. And so

the purpose of the university
has been structured explicitly

around citizenship, but also
that citizenship rhetoric

circulates internally in the
university. So I mean, I think


Victoria Reyes: I think that
there's also I mean, that's K

through 12. Right, that's what
does it boils and glint are the

that's thinking about like, even
K through 12. Education, but,

you know, it hasn't always seen
everybody, right. So Tressie

McMillan cotton talks about this
a lot. In the same way, right.

Like it's purposely excluded
particular types of people as

being Oh, yeah, since or not.
But I also think, I wonder,

like, lawyers, doctors, right.
Like, lawyers probably have this

veneer of like, you know,
belonging and all these things.

So and so anyway. So I, I agree
with you. I also think that

there's something to like,
academia is just a regular

professional workplace. Yeah,
no, like, there is a I don't

know, I think that there's
something to that to that it's

not as exceptional as we hope it
to be. Because our work we have,

yes, we have these ideals, but
our work is very much and how

we're evaluated and how like, we
just workplace dynamics, right.

Like, that's all I want to do,
for example, and it's all I

think a lot of us want to do is
just to be able to do our job,

which is our research or
teaching and our service, you

know, so So I understand. And I
agree with you, I also think

that there's something to like
it not being an exceptional


Darrel Wanzer-Serrano: Yeah. Oh,
yeah. I don't, I don't believe

that it is an exceptional
workplace. But, but universities

like to fancy themselves as an
exceptional workspace true.

Victoria Reyes: Yeah. That's
true. It's gets to like this

apprenticeship model too. And
it's a call and it's the things

that undergrad like passion and
exploitation, is that a true

calling? Right? Or like you need
to like, do all of this stuff

like in the pandemic, right,
faculty are called to do more

and more and more, and it's
supposed to be about our

commitment, our commitment to
our students, and a lot of

people do and that's the case
for K through 12 as well but,

but then also people should be
for worded as much and be

compensated for their labor.
Anyway, I know you have other

questions. We could probably
talk all day on some of these


Darrel Wanzer-Serrano: We
totally could I want to get one

more question in about the book.
And that's the that's the kind

of more hopeful question. Yeah.
So walk me through the normative

commitments of what you're
calling academic justice. Right.

And beyond those normative
commitments, what are some

examples of what that can look
like in practice?

Victoria Reyes: Yeah, so Well,
maybe, sorry, I need to go on

tangents. I don't know people
listen, I listen, my podcasts

when I run. And so hopefully,
like people won't mind if this

runs a little long. But if I'm
going too long, just like

Darrel Wanzer-Serrano: X, you're
totally fine.

Victoria Reyes: This was
actually one of this was also a

hard essay for me to write even
in my book workshop, the first

draft, it didn't have this, and
I talked about the it's hard to

be hopeful, it's hard to think
about change. And in fact, I

completely revise this dissenter
zekiel, Lunas and Whitney,

Purple's black feminist
sociology edited volume, because

when I came out, and I read it,
I just thought, there it is,

right, that we need to kind of
rely on on what they're saying,

and what a lot of you know,
black women in particular have

been saying about the Academy.
And so part of the and I'm not

the first one to talk about
academic justice to right, like,

so I'm involved in active in the
sociologists for women in

society, and they have a whole
committee about academic

justice, they have committees
against discrimination and more

just environment. So it's really
thinking about these feminist

commitments. And what it is, is
about, how can we have a system

where people are just able to be
free of micro aggressions, be

free of racism, be free, and
just be able to kind of be

supportive and be valued? And,
and not like, sometimes

academics can be so personal and
tear down and critique, but in

fact, like, that's not healthy.
And so I think, right, it's

where everyone is, is granted
rights, they're seen as worthy,

their citizenship is not
conditional. And again, that

doesn't mean we can't evaluate
people. Right? And so what does

this look like in practice? What
would adjust Academy be like and

again, you know, here, I know
that Mike Davis just wrote

something about like hope and,
and he doesn't believe in hope,

etcetera, but I really follow
Sara Ahmed. Mira, may cava,

Rebecca Solnit. And really
thinking about hope is separate

from optimism and hope tied to
work. And hope animates the

struggle. Kaaba talks about hope
is a discipline that we have to

practice every day. And so this
is part of and we fail, I fail,

I fail. All of the time. No one
is perfect. And it's part of how

we respond. So what are some
practical ways? One is even

thinking about how we do
evaluation and looking for

potential instead of poking
holes, right? A lot of grads,

who was about like, you train
them to poke holes and things

and tear it down. But instead,
especially in some of my

classes, no, it was really what
is the potential? What is the

finding here? And how can we do
that? And how can we do that in

our graduate programs and kind
of structure it? How can we do

it in the writing groups? Who
are part of how can we do that

in our peer review, the problem
is, you know, some people like,

like, Christine Williams wrote
something about Abolishing the

r&r. And to me, I think that
that actually will just increase

kind of inequities in the
academy. I have only learned how

to write because of a second
r&r. And because people were

able to and willing to take the
time to kind of help me craft

something. So the problem is not
the double r&r. The problem is,

what pushes people out is the
kinds of reviews they get that

attack the very kind of idea and
value or methods, a very kind of

core of what their ideas are,
rather than seeing the potential

and service work is devalued.
Right? All our whole Academy is

built on this peer review
system, but yet it's devalued in

all of our evaluation, right?
Like it's still valued,

particularly at research
universities. And so there's so

that's part of it, right?
Service worker for mentorship,

right or for teaching and
thinking about like, I read this

Sure, I've been lucky to go
through pedagogy training at

Bryn Mawr that was my first job
and reading some of this

pedagogical work about, like,
there's one where it's like the

the dysfunctional illusion of

And I was just so captured by
that essay. And it's like, why

do we have certain deadlines?
Why don't we, you know, so in my

classes now I have, revise and
resubmit options, you can revise

and resubmit your exams, right?
Because that's what learning is.

It's not about memorization.
It's not about like, students is

Paul fear. And I'm sure I'm
mispronouncing his name wrong, I

apology but pedagogy of the
oppressed, right? It's all about

like students are not, because
it's the banking model of

education, you just pour it in,
the students aren't that that's

not respecting who they are,
it's not respecting them as as

holistic. And so for me, I think
that that needs to be kind of at

the core. And, you know, in some
ways, it's not quite the same.

But in some ways, you know,
recell, Primus is new book

unfree kind of her
recommendation for kind of

domestic work. And that book is
about the Arab states is

thinking about the moral
foundation of the market and

domestic work in many ways. It's
a very parallel to kind of the

more the morality and dignity
and respect and treating people,

because it's not okay to treat
people the way they are that the

way that some academics do to
others, particularly the

gatekeepers, right, who are at
the top, you know, anyway, so

the so those are some, some of
the practical, right is really

thinking about, sometimes I feel
like people just teach the way

they do, because that's the
teaching you've received. And so

it's kind of this reproduction.
But for me, and I taught a

teaching sociology class, and
what I tried to do is thinking

about intentional, really being
intentional about the way you

teach, and why do you teach this
way? Why why grades this, why I

don't believe in a standard
distribution of grade, I think

that more reflects someone's
teaching than actual like

pedagogy and the students
themselves. So anyway, I could

go on and on, but those are a
few. And this essay kind of lays

out, you know, in academia,
there's that trifecta of

research, teaching service, and
it tries to at least point to or

gesture to some ways, and I'm
sure I've missed out a lot, and

I'm sure I've missed out on on
critical analyses of some of my

suggestions, too, right. But
that it's a start. And it's

relying on what others have said
to right, like, so that's

something else like I, I think
that we have to practice this

kind of intellectual and just
humility in our work. And it's,

it's contrast to academics,
right? Because you're taught to

like, you need to promote
yourself, and it's all about

you, and what you do, you do you
do, and you're an expert, etc,

etc. But really, it's not it's
about it's about community, and

it's about building a department
that is, you know, committed,

it's about building these these

Darrel Wanzer-Serrano: Yeah,
that's fabulous. I'm wary of

taking too much your time. But I
do want I do want to I do know,

it's fine. But I've this,
there's a, there's a lovely

conversation. I felt like I
could do, we could do a whole

month chatting. Several
episodes. But I do have one

final question that I that I'm
trying to end all of my

interviews on. And that's what
I'm calling my, the the top

three things. Question. So what
are the top three things that

you wish people had told you
going into graduate school or

while in graduate graduate
school? Or they are going into

the professorial for that
matter? So what are three things

you wish you had been told?
Before you had to figure it out

on your own? That

Victoria Reyes: would help me
stay right? Like that's the key

thing, yes.

Darrel Wanzer-Serrano: Or not?
Or not? I mean, if one of the

things is run, run while you
can, like that's an honest


Victoria Reyes: No, I actually,
I love my job. I love my job. I

love being able to research what
I want, teach what I want, I

really enjoy service. I actually
really love being an academic. I

think it's the politics. So
three things, I'll try to

mention three things. So one is
the profession is much bigger

than your department. It can
often not feel that way. Because

your department is structuring
who you read, what how you

think, all of these things, but
the profession is so much

bigger, right? I know AASA has a
lot of like, there's critiques

against I really love that's our
Association, the American

Sociological Association. That's
how I've been able to find my

community right and and find
people who have gotten me to

where I am. So one is your
department is not the profession

Second related is that there are
people who already get you and

who know your worth. And part of
it is to find and build your

community. And we're out here,
and there are people out here,

and that's how you can survive
is through other people. Right?

And then the third thing would
be that, you know, not everyone

is gonna like you, I went to a
National Women's Studies

Association one year for a pre
conference. And I know, this

isn't the first time I was told
this, but, you know, I, you

know, you're told different
things that hit you differently.

And I was like, oh, you know,
and I write this in my essay,

oh, and an essay like, Oh, what
do you what do you want to

accomplish? It's up to you. And
I was like, well, not really,

it's up to the reviewers. It's
up to the editors. Like, why do

you want to publish in that
journal? And I'm like, oh,

because you know, and finally
prove my worth. And they're

like, no matter what you do,
someone is not going to like

you, right? Like, no matter what
you do, there are people who are

going to question you, but in
fact, there are people and this

woman is said, in this room
right now, who see you for who

you are, who value you, right.
So all of this is kind of

interconnected, is that there is
space for you. That space may

feel really small and
constricted in your graduate

school right now. And that's
where I think get it, you know,

sometimes dissertation
committees you can bring in an

outsider, right, like an outside
committee members, you can do

that. But, but know that your
department is not the

profession. I mean, that's kind
of like the one big thing and

then the others are related.
Yeah, and community.

Darrel Wanzer-Serrano: Yeah.
Three great points. Thank you so

much. I just want one more time
to thank you for joining me for

this conversation today. It's
really been wonderful to have


Victoria Reyes: Thank you so
much. It's been so great

chatting with you. And sorry for
being so long and going on these

tangents. You know, but it's
it's been a pleasure. And thank

you so much for inviting me.

Darrel Wanzer-Serrano: Yeah,
yeah, but no, really, my My

pleasure. And I'm sure the
listeners are going to are going

to love what you have to offer.
And to those listeners, thank

you for joining as well. I
really value each and every one

of you and hope that this show
helps in one way or another as

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navigating higher education.

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