Student InformationGraduate Student
The College of Lib Arts & Sci
Frida (she/her/ella) is a transnational mother, a dedicated advocate for birth justice, a binational professional, and a current doctoral candidate in the Global Health PhD program within the School of Human Evolution and Social Change. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in US/Mexico Border Studies from Arizona International College at the University of Arizona and a Master of Public Health from Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública in Mexico.
Since 2019, Frida has been an active member of the Cihuapactli Collective, where she is considered a comadre. Her commitment is to center indigenous epistemologies, culturally-rooted birthworkers, and knowledge keepers who protect and safekeep ancestral, land-based teachings. Her research endeavors to construct a framework that propels long-lasting solutions to combat the rising incidence of traumatic childbirth in BIPOCQxi (Black, Indigenous, People of Color, Queer, and intersecting immigrant) communities.
Frida is set to begin the data collection phase of her dissertation project, the Arizona Birthkeepers Project, in October 2023. Her research involves conducting a comprehensive analysis of doula training curricula recognized by the Arizona Department of Health Services to meet doula state certification requirements. Additionally, she plans to facilitate talking circles and listening sessions with maternal and child health stakeholders in Tucson and Phoenix.
Prior to her current academic pursuits, Frida has accumulated valuable experience in the fields of behavioral health, health program evaluation, and immigration policy. She resides in Tempe, with her partner and daughter.
- BA in US/Mexico Border Studies, Arizona International College, University of Arizona, 2005
- MPH in Social and Behavioral Sciences, Escuela Nacional de Salud Pública, Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública, Cuernavaca, México, 2009
- PhD in Global Health (Candidate), School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, 2025
Dissertation title: Birthworker-led advocacy and training in Arizona and beyond: Uplifting the knowledge and practices of community-rooted birthworkers through an Indigenous feminist lens
In this critical study, I center indigenous epistemologies as an act of decolonization and explore the foundational understanding of childbirth within the realm of medical anthropology. Specifically, I focus on the contemporary manifestation of traumatic childbirth and its deeply interwoven connection with the perpetuation of white settler colonialism and heteropatriarchy. Within this overarching discourse, I highlight the pivotal role played by community-rooted birthworkers in serving as agents of disruption within these prevailing systems of power.
A significant aspect of the analysis revolves around the enduring hierarchies of knowledge and culture that continue to characterize the Westernized biomedical field. This field, which underpins much of the research and practice in modern obstetrics, continues to marginalize the cultural plurality, spirituality, and the rich ancestral heritage that is emblematic of BIPOC communities in the United States. Consequently, individuals whose cultural practices, traditions, intuitive wisdom, and embodied knowledge are imperiled within the biomedical context remain at grave risk of experiencing traumatic birth events or pregnancy-related mortality.
Over centuries, birth companions have played an instrumental role in amplifying the voices of women and all birthing individuals, advocating for their rights and well-being both inside and outside the birthing environment. In this regard, my research strives to discern and elucidate the presence of indigenous feminist principles in contemporary advocacy endeavors and doula training programs in the state of Arizona. These findings will aid in the construction of a culturally-restorative framework, one that can inform and shape birth equity policies and practices.
A deeply personal dimension is inherent in this research, as I, the investigator, am a transterritorial mother of mestiza Mexican heritage, formerly undocumented, and raised along the Tohono O'odham borderlands. This positioning affords me the privilege of engaging in a reflexive research process and fostering the development of my own indigenous feminist practice. As a scholar and a member of my home communities in Central Mexico, Tucson, and Phoenix, I stand committed to the reclamation and revitalization of indigenous knowledge systems and practices in the realm of childbirth, thereby contributing to the broader discourse on equitable and culturally sensitive perinatal care.
Dissertation committee: Dr. Roseanne Schuster (co-Chair); Dr. Jonathan Maupin (co-Chair); Dr. Rosalynn A. Vega (Member, University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley); Dr. Myla Vicenti Carpio (Member, Arizona State University & University of New Mexico).
- Native American Indian Studies Association
- American Anthropological Association