People / Graduate Students

Graduate Students

Alan Pelaez Lopez

Narrativity, Black and Indigenous Poetics, Settler Colonial Studies, Citizenship and Illegality

Migrantscribble 4.jpeg

Bio & Research Interests

Alan Pelaez Lopez is a narrative scholar, multimedia artist, and poet in the Department of Comparative Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley.

In their dissertation, Fugitive Authorship: UndocuBlack Immigrants and the Literary Imaginary, Pelaez Lopez examine the development of undocumented Black Indigenous (undocuBlack) literature and legal and cultural understandings of U.S. citizenship between 2008-2019. In reading cultural production crafted from the embodied experiences of undocumented migrants, the dissertation reveals the degree to which undocuBlack conceptualizations and criticisms of citizenship depart from a singular analysis of Federal Immigration law to also examine the structures of settler-colonialism in the U.S. and the global circuit of anti-Black violence. In doing so, Pelaez Lopez argues that undocuBlack cultural producers begin to draft parallel narratives to those that Black Americans and Native Americans drafted in response to constitutional, allotment, and property laws. This dissertation argues that Black and Indigenous peoples in the U.S. were the original targets of settler colonialism but are assumed to no longer be affected because they are legal citizens of the nation-state. However, the autobiographies, memoirs, poetry, and essays of contemporary undocuBlack migrants reveal that laws not only have material realities in the times and geographies they are drafted and enacted, but they also have genealogies that once identified can build countercultures that fragment the commercialized narratives of citizenship and belonging that posit citizenship as a stable social category. In this argument, Pelaez Lopez uplifts the work of undocumented cultural producers to examine how they are authoring present-futures with, against, and in the absence of citizenship in similar ways as Black and Native Americans.

In their poetic, visual and performance practice,  their work considers, what happens when language fails :: is not enough :: is not understood by those most impacted :: is the main perpetrator of violence? Informed by artist from the Global South, Alan’s art practices remaps Black and Indigenous gestures and articulations as ephemeral languages that the written text fails to capture :: master :: possess. They address issues of language through collage, jewelry, installations, and concrete poetry. They are currently at work on a large scale installation that re-stages 100 Memín Pinguín comic books to reveal the ways in which Mexican visual and print culture depend on colonial depictions of Black life in order to advance projects of racial purity in North American and the Americas at large. This installation addresses not only the production of negrura as salvaje but posits Blackness as an experiencia and sentimiento that insists its presence on Mexico’s national imaginary even in the absence of state recognition.

Alan is the author of the art and poetry collection, Intergalactic Travels: poems from a fugitive alien (The Operating System, 2020) and the chapbook, to love and mourn in the age of displacement (Nomadic Press). They are currently writing Chambalé : Libélulas : Dragonflies, a choreopoem that tells the story of Zapotec children who learn to shape-shift into insects to avoid the sequestration and death brought upon 21st-century settler-colonial practices in North America. Their art has been supported by residencies and/or fellowships from the Museum of the African Diaspora, Submittable, and VONA/Voices.

Performances include Brown UniversityColumbia University, Harvard University, Stanford University, NYU, MIT, Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar, Galería de la Raza, Central Los Angeles Public Library, Amherst College, Colby College, Oberlin College, and more.



Leigh Raiford

Juana María Rodríguez

Beth Piatote

Courses Taught or Assisted

Courses Taught:

Fall 2019. University of California, Berkeley.  Native American Studies R1A: Indigenous Storytelling, Resistance & Futurity.

Spring 2019University of California, Berkeley. Chicano Studies R1B: People of Color Thought.

Fall 2018University of California, Berkeley. Chicano Studies R1A: Contemporary Race, Gender and Migration.

Spring 2018University of California, Berkeley. Chicano Studies R1B: Unearthing Latinx and Caribbean Literature.

Fall 2017. University of California, Berkeley. Chicano Studies R1A: (Im)Migration, Blackness & Latinidad.

Summer 2017. University of California, Berkeley.  Native American Studies R1B: Indigenous (Un)Belonging. 

Courses Assisted: 

Summer 2016. Graduate Student Instructor. Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Spain: ETH STD N180: Interculturality, International Migration and the Dialogue between Civilizations Before and After 9/11.


Select publications


Pelaez Lopez, Alan C. to love and mourn in the age of displacement. Nomadic Press, 2020.

Pelaez Lopez, Alan C. Intergalactic Travels: poems from a fugitive alien. The Operating System, 2020.


Pelaez Lopez, Alan C. “sick in america.” Best American Experimental Writing 2020. Wesleyan University Press (Forthcoming 2020). Print.

Pelaez Lopez, Alan C. “On Why I No Longer Care for T-Blockers,” “Libélula,” and “The Rupture in the Crust.” The Georgia Review (Forthcoming, Summer 2020). Print.

Pelaez Lopez, Alan C. “A Daily Prayer.” POETRY Magazine (January 2020). Print.

Pelaez Lopez, Alan C. “The Spine of Gorée Island.” Best New Poets 2019.University of Virginia Press, 2019. Print

Pelaez Lopez, Alan C. “Orange: an Elegy b/c I do not Remember the Funeral,” and “Examining the Only Existing Portrait of an { }.” Puerto Del Sol (V. 54, Spring 2019). Print.

Pelaez Lopez, Alan C. “Zapotec Crossers.” POETRY Magazine (October 2018). Print.

Pelaez Lopez, Alan C. “Illegal Intimacy.” En Mi Piel. La Liga Zine (September 2018). Print.

Pelaez Lopez, Alan C. “Entrada De Diario, 2014.” Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review (Summer 2018). Print.

Pelaez Lopez, Alan C. “–Yil Shwe’, Shwe’ –Yil,” and “Black Indian Crosses Border at 5-years-old  (Zapotec, Spanish and English translations).” Red Ink: An International Journal of Indigenous Literature, Arts, & Humanities (Summer 2018). Print.

Pelaez Lopez, Alan C. “An Encounter with my Heart.” Origins Journal (Winter 2018). Online.

Pelaez Lopez, Alan C. “NDN Travel,” and “Guide to Border-Crossing Self.”  Pittsburgh Poetry Review (Winter 2018). Online.

Pelaez Lopez, Alan C. “Discovering Blackness.’” Vinyl Poetry and Prose (Fall 2017). Online.

Pelaez Lopez, Alan C. “3 Things I Regret Not Asking From Allies and My Community as an (Un)Documented and Queer Activist.” The Solidarity Struggle: How People of Color Succeed and Fail at Showing Up for Each Other in the Fight for Freedom. Ed. Mia McKenzie. Oakland: BGD, 2016. 64-69. Print.

Pelaez Lopez, Alan C. “Las Estages of Blackness.” Bozalta: Arts, Activism, Scholarship. Afro Latinidad V. 2 (2016). UCLA, 06 July 2016. Online.