Vanessa Díaz

Associate Professor of Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies

  • Los Angeles CA UNITED STATES
  • University Hall
  • Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies

Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts



Dr. Vanessa Díaz is an interdisciplinary ethnographer, filmmaker, and journalist. Her research focuses on race and gender in the production of media and popular culture across the Americas. Díaz’s award-winning book, Manufacturing Celebrity: How Latino Paparazzi and Women Reporters Build the Hollywood Industrial Complex, was published with Duke University Press (2020). Grounded in her experience as a red carpet reporter for People magazine, Manufacturing Celebrity focuses on hierarchies of labor as well as ethnoracial and gender politics in the production of celebrity-focused media. The research for Manufacturing Celebrity was supported by numerous grants and fellowships, including those from the Ford Foundation Fellows/National Academy of Sciences, the Smithsonian Institute, and the Historical Society of Southern California, among others. Díaz is also a co-author of UCLA’s 2017 Hollywood Diversity Report. In addition to her research on media and popular culture in the United States, she has also done extensive research on cultural production in the Caribbean and among its diasporas. In 2006, she completed her independent feature-length documentary Cuban HipHop: Desde el Principio (From the Beginning), which recounts the history of the Cuban HipHop movement while exploring how Afro-Cuban youth use HipHop to defy misconceptions about censorship in Cuba by delivering social critiques of racism and poverty on the island. Díaz teaches the course "Bad Bunny and Resistance in Puerto Rico" and is the co-creator of the Bad Bunny Syllabus Project, which seeks to educate the public on Bad Bunny's global impact & how it reflects political, artistic, and cultural triumphs and struggles within Puerto Rico. Díaz is called upon by publications ranging from The Atlantic, to the Los Angeles Times, to NPR to comment upon major events in popular culture. She is able to provide necessary context to understand how and why particular events capture the American popular imagination, while simultaneously revealing the hidden labor and racial struggles involved in the production of popular culture.


University of Michigan


University of Michigan


New York University



Areas of Expertise

oral & life histories
Latin America
political culture
Labor & Employment
Latina/o/x identity
United States
Bad Bunny
Puerto Rico
Celebrity Culture
Gender & Sexuality
race & racialization
Media & popular culture

Industry Expertise

Writing and Editing
Print Media
Motion Pictures and Film
Media - Print
Media Production
Media - Online
Audio Visual


Association for Latina/o and Latinx Anthropologists Book Award


Society for the Anthropology of Work Book Award


Latin American Studies Association, Latinx Studies Section Book Award: Honorable Mention


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  • Ford Foundation Fellowship Annual Conference Planning Committee Member and Former Chair
  • Puerto Rican Studies Association
  • American Anthropological Association
  • New England Consortium of Latino Studies
  • Association of Latina & Latino Anthropologists
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  • English
  • Spanish

Media Appearances

“Why Puerto Rico is adding ‘USA’ to its Drivers Licenses.”

New York Times  print


Díaz is quoted in this article about Puerto Rico.

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“A look inside this California university’s Bad Bunny Course.”

Fox 11 News  tv


Díaz and her course "Bad Bunny and Resistance in Puerto Rico" are featured in this segment.

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Soul of a Nation special: “The Latin Music Revolution.”

ABC  tv


Díaz appears in multiple segments of this special. There is an entire segment about her LMU course "Bad Bunny and Resistance in Puerto Rico," which also features interviews with several of her students.

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Introduction to Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies

Introduction to Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies

Race, Media, and Representation

Race and Media

Bad Bunny and Resistance in Puerto Rico

Benito Martínez Ocasio, better known as Bad Bunny, is breaking musical records, breaking gender stereotypes, and centering his homeland of Puerto Rico in everything he does. What does it mean for an all-Spanish-language act from Puerto Rico to be biggest musical artist in the world? Bad Bunny has been the world’s most-streamed artist on Spotify for two consecutive years, has the longest-running Spanish-language album at the top of the Billboard chart, and in 2022 became the only artist in history to stage two separate $100 million-grossing tours in less than 12 months. As we examine his impact on global popular music and culture, we will consider what Bad Bunny can teach us in Latinx Studies. Through film, popular media, and interdisciplinary academic texts, we will explore his role in the mass 2019 protests in Puerto Rico, what these protests and ongoing struggles in Puerto Rico teach us about U.S. colonialism and Puerto Rican politics, and what Bad Bunny’s increasingly anti-colonial stance says about the current state of resistance in Puerto Rico (particularly among Puerto Rican youth). We will also pay particular attention to the politics of race, gender, and queerness in Bad Bunny’s performance, and how these politics disrupt dominant Latinx media representations. Overall, this course will explore these topics by closely situating Bad Bunny’s work in relation to key texts in Latinx Studies regarding colonialism, race, resistance, gender, and sexuality.


Manufacturing Celebrity: How Latino Paparazzi and Women Reporters Build the Hollywood Industrial Complex

Duke University Press

August 2020

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The Power of Popular Protest: El Verano Boricua, 2019

Latin American Perspectives


May 2020. Photo essay

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Raciontologies: Rethinking Anthropological Accounts of Institutional Racism and Enactments of White Supremacy in the U.S.

American Anthropologist


December 2019. “Raciontologies: Rethinking Anthropological Accounts of Institutional Racism and Enactments of White Supremacy.” American Anthropologist. Co-author.

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