Christine Sierra, Emeritus Professor

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Contact Information

Phone: (505) 277-1454
Curriculum Vitae


Professor of Political Science
Director, Southwest Hispanic Research Institute
B.A. with honors, 1972, University of Texas at Austin
M.A. 1981, Stanford University
Ph.D., 1983, Stanford University

A member of the UNM faculty since 1986, Professor Sierra teaches and researches in the field of American politics with a focus on race, ethnicity, and gender.   Her publications include work on Mexican American activism on immigration policy, Hispanic politics in New Mexico, and the politics of Latina women in the United States. Sierra has been a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution, the University of Arizona, and the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.  As an expert in American and Latino/a politics, she appears frequently in local and national media outlets.  During presidential elections, she has also appeared in the international press, including Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC), Libération (Paris), Carta Capital (Sao Paulo), Suddeutsche Zeitung (Munich), Franfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Frankfurt), Neue Zurcher Zeitung (Zurich), and the Asahi Shimbun (Japan). 

During the Clinton administration, she served as a presidential appointee to the Good Neighbor Environmental Board, which advised the President and Congress on environmental and infrastructure needs of the U.S.-Mexico border region.  More recently, she was a member of the Immigration Policy Roundtable co-sponsored by the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University and the Brookings Institution.  See Breaking the Immigration Stalemate:  From Deep Disagreements to Constructive Proposals.  A Report from the Brookings-Duke Immigration Policy Roundtable. 2009.  Participant and signatory.

Research Interests

An expert in American Politics, Sierra researches and teaches in the subfields of race, ethnicity, and gender politics.  Her current major research project is a national study of elected officials of color in the United States.  This study, known as the Gender and Multicultural Leadership Project (GMCL), investigates the backgrounds, trajectories to office, political attitudes and policy positions of African American, Hispanic, Asian Americans serving in federal, state, and local office.  Co-PIs include Carol Hardy-Fanta, University of Massachusetts, Boston, Pei-te Lien, University of California, Santa Barbara, and Dianne M. Pinderhughes, University of Notre Dame.  A book manuscript is in preparation for Cambridge University Press.

Sierra is also an expert on Latino/a politics, at the national level and in the state of New Mexico.  She examines Latino/a electoral behavior as well Latino political mobilization, including social movement activism and community-based organization.  She also has a longstanding research focus on the politics of U.S. immigration.

Recent Accomplishments

UPDATE: Dr. Sierra officially retired and attained Emeritus status in December, 2014.

In August 2011, Professor Sierra was appointed as Director of UNM”s Southwest Hispanic Research Institute (SHRI), whose sixty-two affiliated faculty engage in historical and contemporary research on Hispanic populations and communities in local, regional, national, and transnational contexts.

Selected Publications

Coauthored with F. Chris Garcia. “Hispanic Politics in a Battleground State: New Mexico in 2004,” in Beyond the Barrio: Latinos in the 2004 Elections. Edited by Rodolfo O. de la Garza, Louis DeSipio, and David L. Leal.  South Bend, IN:  University of Notre Dame Press, 2010, pp. 97-130.

“Latinas and Electoral Politics:  Movin’ On Up,” in Gender and Elections, 2nd edition.  Edited by Susan J. Carroll and Richard L Fox.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009, pp. 144-164.

Coauthored with Pei-te Lien, Dianne Pinderhughes, and Carol Hardy-Fanta.  “The Voting Rights Act and the Election of Nonwhite Officials." PS: Political Science & Politics, Vol. XL, No. 3 (July 2007):  489-494.  [The American Political Science Association distributed a national press release announcing the publication of our article.  Several media outlets published articles on our research findings.]

Coauthored with Carol Hardy-Fanta, Pei-te Lien, and Dianne Pinderhughes.  "Gender, Race and Descriptive Representation in the United States:  Findings from the Gender and Multicultural Leadership Project."  Journal of Women, Politics & Policy, Vol. 28, Nos. 3/4 (2006): 7-41.

See also Fact Sheets from the Gender and Multicultural Leadership Project on the Voting Rights Act, No Child Left Behind, immigration-related issues, and U.S. involvement in the war in Iraq (