Cal Poly CLA News

The latest online edition of CLA's Impact Magazine

Class Acts - Alexia Arani

Alexia Arani Cal PolyAlexia Arani / Women's, Gender and Queer Studies Department

Specialty Area: Feminist, Queer, Trans Disability Studies

How/why did you choose to work at Cal Poly?
Cal Poly’s emphasis on learning by doing appealed to me as a researcher with a community organizing background. Because all my courses provide students with tools and frameworks to address social justice issues, it felt like a natural fit! 

What are your research/scholarly pursuits?
My research is intimately connected to my work as a community organizer, primarily with disabled queer and trans people of color in California. Because many disabled people cannot safely attend marches or rallies, they have been reimagining what activism can look like.

What is/has been your favorite class to teach?
I’m very excited that my first course offering at Cal Poly will be “Race, Gender, Disability Justice.” More than two years into a pandemic that has disproportionately affected disabled and immune-compromised people (of color), it is more important than ever to uplift the wisdom and creativity of disabled people! 

What is your favorite class/student moment?
I always love when students stop by office hours and I get to see a different side of their personalities. It is an honor to have students share about their lives and ask for support and advice!   

Are there any scholars or individuals that have inspired you?
Sara Ahmed will always be a cornerstone for me. In graduate school, "Queer Phenomenology" and "The Pursuit of Happiness" were the first theoretical texts I read that meaningfully reflected my own experiences. She continues to be an inspiration through her fearless advocacy for survivors of workplace assault, discrimination, and harassment. She’s a great model for scholar-activism!  

If you were stranded on a desert island and could bring one book, what would it be?
I would probably cheat and bring an epic trilogy that has been published as a single book! I’m a huge fan of speculative fiction and would either bring the Broken Earth or Inheritance Trilogy by NK Jemisin. Her worldbuilding is so rich, that I could easily spend years lost in these stories. Plus, they offer great models for how to survive and adapt amid social and ecological change!  

What are your hobbies/extracurricular activities?
I have three dogs, so I spend a lot of time hanging out with them, going on walks, and cuddling! Since moving to the Central Coast, I’ve been rekindling my love of film photography, hiking and board games.    

What is your guilty pleasure?
Reality TV has been a great escape during the pandemic! I’ve recently been watching The Circle on Netflix. I think it’s a fascinating exploration of public rhetoric and the psychology of social media. If there aren’t any academic analyses of the show yet, there should be!  


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