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José A. Madrid (he/him)

PhD Candidate in the Department of Black Studies

José A. Madrid (he/him)

My work is deeply inspired by our enduring collective struggle for liberation.”

José A. Madrid is a PhD candidate in the Department of Black Studies in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. His research explores the intersections of racial capitalism, neoliberalism, carceral geographies, and militarism. José’s academic contributions have been recognized with prestigious awards, including the Council for Race and Ethnic Studies (CRES) Graduate Fellowship for 2023–24 and the Transformative Justice Grant for 2022–23. Additionally, he is a Mellon Cluster Fellowship recipient in Rhetoric and Public Culture, underscoring his impact in the field and his commitment to exploring innovative avenues in social justice and public scholarship.

How would you describe your research and/or work to a non-academic audience? 
My work seeks to provide a more expansive understanding of race, policing, and incarceration in Central America. More specifically, my current project examines the neoliberal expansion of carceral apparatuses in Central America from the 1990s onward. To this end, my project analyzes how racialized marginal subjects in Central America have been subjected to militarized policing, surveillance and hyper-incarceration as a result of late-stage capitalism. 

Tell us what inspired your research and/or work. 
My work is not only a reflection of my training in critical race and ethnic studies, but more importantly, it is driven by the political imperative to attend to the myriad of ways in which racially marginalized people have been subjected to various forms of state oppression. My work is deeply inspired by our enduring collective struggle for liberation. 

What have been some of the most memorable twists and turns of your career? 
I have taken a lot of twists and turns to get to Northwestern. After high school, I enrolled in community college, but after a couple of years I decided to work full time instead. After three years of working in retail, I went back and completed my coursework at community college, and then transferred to a four-year university to earn a BA. 

Between earning my BA and coming to Northwestern, I was lucky enough to work with youth of color at a local high school. They taught me so much about the importance of building community in struggle. It has been a long, memorable, and unpredictable journey, but I would not change any part of it. I am forever grateful for everything I have learned along the way. 

How do you unwind after a long day? 
Since moving to Chicago, I have discovered I really enjoy cooking. So, after a long day, I like to unwind by cooking dinner with my partner and watching our favorite TV shows together. In addition to cooking, I also enjoy decompressing by doing meditative yoga and exercising. It helps me recharge after long days. 

What did you originally want to be when you grew up? 
Growing up I wanted to be a professional soccer player. I played soccer from the age of 5 until I was 18 years old, and although I didn’t become a professional soccer player, playing for 13 years was one of the most memorable and enriching experiences of my life. 

What advice would you give your younger self or someone considering a similar path? 
You’re going to be just fine. Just keep your head up. 

Publish Date: April 23, 2024 

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