Nancy López


Photo: Nancy   López

Director and Co-founder, Institute for Study of "Race" & Social Justice

Associate Vice President, Division for Equity and Inclusion
Coordinator, NM Statewide Race, Gender, Class Data Policy Consortium
Advisor, Race and Social Justice Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate

(505) 277-3101
SSCI 1053

Curriculum vitae


PhD, Sociology, City University of New York (1999)

Research Interests

Race and Ethnicity, Education, Gender, Community-based Participatory Research, Inequality, Latino/a Studies

Race, Gender, Class, Intersectionality, Health, Africana Studies, Qualitative Methods, Engaged Scholarship, Public Sociology

Research Statement:

Nancy López ( is professor of sociology at the University of New Mexico (B.A. Columbia College, Columbia University, 1991; Ph.D. Graduate School & University Center, City University of New York (GSUC-CUNY, 1999). Dr. López directs and co-founded the Institute for the Study of "Race" and Social Justice ( and she is the founding coordinator of the New Mexico Statewide Race, Gender, Class Data Policy Consortium. She is Associate Vice President for Equity and Inclusion. Dr. López also served as the inaugural co-chair of the Diversity Council and she has served on the Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee. Dr. López is currently co-chair of the Education Committee of New Mexico Governors Council for Racial Justice. Dr. López is Secretary of the American Sociological Association (ASA) and she has chaired the committee on the status of Racial and Ethnic Minorities and Vice President of the Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS).

López's scholarship, teaching and service is guided by the insights of intersectionality --the importance of examining race, gender, class, ethnicity together--for interrogating inequalities across a variety of social outcomes, including education, health, employment, housing, and developing contextualized solutions that advance social justice. Her book, Hopeful Girls, Troubled Boys: Race and Gender Disparity in Urban Education (Routledge, 2003) focuses on the race-gender experiences of Dominicans, West Indians, and Haitians to explain why girls are succeeding at higher rates than boys. Dr. López co-edited, Mapping "Race": Critical Approaches to Health Disparities Research (Rutgers, 2013), a multidisciplinary volume that was the byproduct of National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded workshop. The book departs from the premise that “race” is a multidimensional and multilevel social construction that has profound methodological implications for research and policy. Her current work includes a national representative survey of Latinos to examines the health outcomes of Latino immigrants by examining a new measure of racialization she calls "street race" and "street race-gender."  Another project involves examining interdisciplinary ontologies of race via a critical race theory content analysis of official documents of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Census, scholarly associations and the Supreme Court as sites of racial formation; she cautions that current proposals to combine two analytically distinct concepts, Hispanic origin and race, into one question for the 2020 Census may undermine civil rights monitoring and enforcement. Dr. López argues data collection should be anchored in ethical accuracy for social justice rather than aesthetic superficial decontextualized accuracy for compliance only. With support from the WT Grant Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation, Dr. López is collaborating on a cross-site, mixed-methods study on examining the role of high school ethnic studies curriculum and pedagogy in reducing complex inequalities by race-gender-class in three research practice partnerships in the Southwest and West coast.

Dr. López has taught for over two decades in a variety of public universities (City University of New York, University of Massachusetts and University of New Mexico), that serve a very diverse group of students, including those who like Dr. López, were the first in their families to complete high school and pursue higher education. Dr. López has chaired or served as a member of over 70 doctoral degree and masters degree committees. Dr. López has received several awards recognizing her contributions to mentoring, teaching, service and research, including the Gunter Starkey Teaching Award, Presidential Luminaria Award and the Inaugural Academic Leadership Academy Fellowship, of the Division of Equity and Inclusion, UNM and the ASA William Foote Whyte Award for Sociological Practice and Public Sociology.  Dr. López is the first woman of color tenured in the Sociology department and the first woman of the African Diaspora (AfroLatina) tenured in the College of Arts and Sciences (2008) and promoted to full professor (2018) at UNM.

The daughter of Dominican immigrants who were only able to attend primary school through the second grade, Dr. López was born in the Lower East Side of Manhattan and she was raised in Baruch Public Houses.  Spanish is her first language. In 1987 Dr. López graduated from Washington Irving H.S., a de facto racially segregated large public vocational high school for girls. 



Mapping "Race": Critical Approaches to Health Disparities Research

Laura E. Gomez and Nancy Lopez

Researchers commonly ask subjects to self-identify their race from a menu of preestablished options. Yet if race is a multidimensional, multilevel social construction, this has profound methodological implications for the sciences and social sciences. Race must inform how we design large-scale data collection and how scientists utilize race in the context of specific research questions. This landmark collection argues for the recognition of those implications for research and suggests ways in which they may be integrated into future scientific endeavors. It concludes on a prescriptive note, providing an arsenal of multidisciplinary, conceptual, and methodological tools for studying race specifically within the context of health inequalities.

Available for purchase here.


Hopeful Girls, Troubled Boys Race and Gender Disparity in Urban Education

Nancy López

By 2007, it is estimated that 9.2 million girls of color will be enrolled in college compared to 6.9 million boys of color. Why the discrepancy? In Hopeful Girls, Troubled Boys, Nancy López takes us to the schools, homes and workplaces of Caribbean youth to point out the different expectations that guide behavior. Now the largest immigrant group in New York City, López focuses in particular on these Caribbean teens to explain how and why our schools and cities are failing boys of color. This is a fascinating ethnographic study on a topic of increasing interest to people in the field of education and anyone concerned about the future of young people.

Available for purchase here.

Recent/Select Publications:

López, Nancy, Edward Vargas, Lisa Cacari-Stone, Melina Juarez, Sonia Bettez. 2018. “What’s Your “Street Race”? Leveraging Multidimensional Measures of Race and Intersectionality for Examining Physical and Mental Health Status Among Latinx." Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, 4(1):49-66.

López, Nancy, Christopher Erwin, Melissa Binder and Mario Chavez*. 2018. “Making the Invisible Visible: Advancing Quantitative Methods Through Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality for Revealing Complex Race-Gender-Class Inequalities in Higher Education, 1980- 2015,” Race, Ethnicity and Education: Special Issue, QuantCrit: Rectifying Quantitative Methods Through Critical Race Theory  21(2): 180-207.

López, Nancy and Vivian L. Gadsden. 2017. “Health Inequities, Social Determinants, and Intersectionality,” in Perspectives on Health Equity & Social Determinants of Health, edited by K. Bogard, V.M. Murry and C. Alexander. Washington DC: National Academy of Medicine.

Johnson, Richard Greggory III, Mario Rivera and Nancy López. 2017. “Social Movements and the Need for a Trans Ethics Approach to LGBTQ Homeless Youth,” Public Integrity, 19:1-14. (DOI: 10.1080/10999922.2017.1342217).

López, Nancy. 2013. “Contextualizing Lived Race-Gender and the Racialized-Gendered Social Determinants of Health.” Pp.179-211 in Mapping “Race”: Critical Approaches to Health Disparities Researchedited by Laura Gómez and Nancy López. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. 

* Denotes graduate student coauthor

Faculty Public Sociology & Community Engagement

Nancy López draws on her scholarly work on intersectionality (e.g., attention to the simultaneity of race, gender, class, sexual orientation as systems of oppression and resistance) and the dynamics of racialization in American society to help civic organizations, community members and other researchers think more carefully about racial identity and how to measure race & ethnicity for advance transformative social justice praxis (action and reflection). For more information visit the website for the Institute for the Study of "Race" & Social Justice and the New Mexico Race, Gender, Class Data Policy Consortium.

For some examples of Dr. López's public sociology see:

López, Nancy.  The US Census Bureau Keeps Confusing Race and Ethnicity," The Conversation, February 28, 2018. (Republished in Salon, Associated Press, Newsela for teachers in K-12 Instructional Online Platform)

López, Nancy. “What’s Your “Street Race-Gender”? Why We Need Separate Questions on Hispanic Origin and Race for the 2020 Census." RWJF Human Capital Blog. November 26, 2014.

López, Nancy, TEDx ABQ Salon En español – “¿Y Tú, Que Vas a Macar Para el Censo 2020? ¿Origen Hispano? ¿Raza o Color?” / “What Will You Mark for the 2020 Census? Hispanic Origin? Race or Color?”

Sign On Letter to Congressional Hispanic and Civil Rights and Voting Rights Taskforce


Introduction to Sociology

Dynamics of Difference, Power & Discrimination

Race & Inequality

Intersectionality: Race, Gender, Class and Policy (undergraduate/graduate)

Sociology of Education (graduate)

Racial and Ethnic Relations (graduate)

Critical Race, Gender, Class: Intersectionality & Critical Race Theory for Inquiry & Praxis (graduate)

*Note to Undergraduates: All of the aforementioned courses may potentially count for the U.S. & Global Diversity & Inclusion, 3-credit undergraduate courses. Please consult for the list of approved courses or check with your advisor.

** Update: The "Race and Social Justice" Interdisciplinary graduate certificate (15-credit transcripted)  is now open to both enrolled and non-enrolled students that have earned a four-year degree (BA, BS, etc.). We are currently resubmitting the paperwork for establishing the undergraduate version of the certificate (12-credit transcripted). For more information and to apply please visit the website for the Institute for the Study of "Race" & Social Justice.