University of Minnesota
American Studies

American Studies' Home Page

Fall 2015

Scott Hall 316

Office Hours: Tuesday 10am to 3pm or by appointment

Rene Esparza

Department Affiliations


René Esparza is a Doctoral Candidate in American Studies. As a native of Chicago, René’s intellectual queries are informed by his lived experiences with processes of gentrification. Having witnessed those displaced flee to affordable rents as swanky condominiums sprung up in their wake has followed René to his dissertation project. In “From Vice to Nice: Race, Sex, and the Gentrification of AIDS in the Twin Cities,” René examines how sexuality, through a number of policy-based “sex panics,” was harnessed as an organizing logic for the privatization of social problems in the transitional period of the 1980s, amid bourgeoning economic and moral conservatisms. By illustrating that public health and housing responses to AIDS and poverty contributed to the 1980s gentrification of central cities, René offers a counter-narrative to urban land market theories which posit urban change solely through economic market forces. In addition to his dissertation research, René writes about the booming gay marriage tourist industry and about the political economy of homopatriarchy as manifest in the testimonios of queer Chicano men."


  • Queer Theory & GLBT History
  • Women of Color Feminism
  • Urban Politics, History, and Discourses

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: American Studies, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 2015.
  • M.A.: American Studies, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, 2014.
  • B.A.: Sociocultural & Linguistic Anthropology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2009.
  • B.A.: Latina/o Studies, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2009.


  • Stanley Andersen Summer Fellowship, 2014
  • DOVE Summer Dissertation Research Fellowship, 2013
  • Graduate Research Partnership Program Fellowship, 2012
  • Mulford Q. Sibley Graduate Fellowship, 2011
  • DOVE Summer Pre-Dissertation Research Fellowship,, 2010
  • Diversity of Views and Experiences (DOVE) Fellowship , 2009 - 2010

Courses Taught

  • AMST 1012: Migrants, Refugees, Citizens, and Exiles: The U.S. on an Immigrant Planet
  • AMST 1401: Comparative Genders and Sexualities
  • AMST 4101: Genders, Sexualities, and Politics in America
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