Elizabeth Hanna Rubio

Assistant Professor

Office Location

HSSB 5038


Asian American activism, undocumented immigration, immigrant justice, multiracial coalition, abolition, critical ethnic studies, anthropology of time, engaged anthropology, feminist ethnography


PhD in Cultural Anthropology, UC Irvine


Elizabeth Hanna Rubio is an Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Trained in the tradition of activist anthropology, she is an ethnographer of social movements, immigrant life, and the internal dynamics of leftist organizing spaces. After receiving her PhD in Cultural Anthropology from the University of California, Irvine in 2021, she served as a UC Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UCLA and a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Effron Center for the Study of America at Princeton.
Elizabeth is currently completing a monograph titled Dreams Beyond Recognition: Asian American Immigrant Justice Work and Alternatives to Liberalism’s False Promises.  Based on seven years of ethnographic research with undocumented Asian American activists in Southern California, Washington D.C., and Chicago, the book argues that dominant liberal logics focused entirely on state recognition both constrain and obscure the already-existing diversity of undocumented freedom dreams. Her peer-reviewed work has also appeared in publications such as Amerasia Journal; The Journal for the Anthropology of North America; Frontiers: A Women’s Studies Journal; and The LA Review of Books.
Prior to her career in academia, Professor Rubio was a community organizer in the Maryland - DC metropolitan area, where she organized primarily with undocumented tenants, youth, and survivors of domestic violence in a number of local and state-wide campaigns. She builds on her experiences to remain an active presence in activist networks, where, at organizations like Orange County Environmental Justice, Chicago’s HANA Center, UndocuBlack Network, and the National Korean American Services and Education Consortium, she hosts frequent workshops and popular education sessions on matters relating to abolition, Asian American history, and multiracial coalition building.


Elizabeth H. Rubio. Dreams Beyond Recognition: Asian American Immigrant Justice Work and Alternatives to Liberalism’s False Promises. In preparation.
Elizabeth Hanna Rubio. “Of Mothers and Monsters.” Frontiers: A Women's Studies Journal. Special issue on Asian American Abolitionist Feminisms Vol 44(3), Forthcoming Fall 2023
Elizabeth Hanna Rubio. “Black-Asian Solidarities and the Impasses of ‘How-To’ Anti-Racisms.” Journal for the Anthropology of North America 23(2): 16-31, 2021.                                                               
Elizabeth Hanna Rubio “‘We Need to Redefine What We Mean by Winning’: NAKASEC’s Immigrant Justice Activism and Thinking Citizenship Otherwise.” Amerasia Journal 45(2): 157-172, 2019
Elizabeth Hanna Rubio. “"Anti-Asian Violence Is Bigger Than Individuals: Challenging Reliance on Hate Crime Legislation." The American Mosaic: The Asian American Experience, ABC-CLIO, 2022. asianamerican2.abc-clio.com/Search /Display/2285143. 2022
Elizabeth Hanna Rubio. "What Is #StopAAPIHate to the Incarcerated and Deported?." Hot Spots, Fieldsights, October 19, 2021. https://culanth.org/fieldsights/what-to-the-incarcerated-and-deported-is...
Elizabeth Hanna Rubio and Jong-Bum Kwon. “On Asian American and Multiracial Solidarity: A Conversation Between Jong Bum Kwon and Elizabeth Hanna Rubio.” Society for the Anthropology of North America, Home/Field, August 20, 2021. https://www.homefieldanthro.org/2021/08/14/on-asian-america-and-multirac...
Elizabeth Hanna Rubio. “Carceral Progressivism: On Savannah Shange’s ‘Progressive Dystopia’” Los Angeles Review of Books. April 7, 2020. https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/carceral-progressivism-on-savannah-s...          
Elizabeth Hanna Rubio and Xitlalli Alvarez Almendariz. "Refusing “Undocumented”: Imagining Survival Beyond the Gift of Papers." Membe Voices, Fieldsights, January 17, 2019. https://culanth.org/fieldsights/refusing-undocumented-imagining-survival...


ASAM 7: Globalization, Social Inequality, and Gender in Asian America
ASAM 111: Asian American Communities and Contemporary Issues
ASAM165: Ethnographic Research Methods in Asian America