Imagine Otherwise: Karma Chávez on Queer Migration Politics & Using Radio and Podcasts for Public Scholarship

Karma Chávez, Imagine Otherwise blog image

Imagine Otherwise: Karma Chávez on Queer Migration Politics & Using Radio and Podcasts for Public Scholarship

September 7, 2016 Podcast

How are gender and sexuality implicated in the immigration process? Are there concrete steps that academics can take to engage with the broader community? What are the benefits of sound-based media (like this podcast)?

In episode 19 of the Imagine Otherwise podcast, host Cathy Hannabach interviews guest Karma Chávez about the intersectional politics of migration, how grassroots activism is essential to make change, and how her work integrates art, activism, and academia.

We invite you to check out the episode, as well as our highlights and show notes below.

Guest: Karma Chávez

We chatted about:

  • Karma’s work around queer migration studies (02:10)
  • Queer leadership in social justice activism (04:20)
  • The unique benefits of radio, podcasts, and other sound-based media (07:10)
  • How the history of HIV/AIDS activism has intersected with immigration policy (09:40)
  • How Karma’s work braids art, activism, and academia (14:00)
  • Imagining otherwise (19:20)


  • On podcasts and sound-based media: “Sound brings a different kind of imagination in a conversation form.”
  • On the intersections of art, activism, and academia: “The more that I’ve gotten involved in understanding how power works, I’ve really become invested in these three arms. You have to have the theoretical arm, you have to have the on-the-street, activist arm, which can take a variety of forms. And then there’s also this aesthetic piece that is necessary to reach people in a different ways. I’ve been invested in finding ways to integrate those things”
  • On how community engagement for academics: “I think it’s important for academics who want to be connected to the communities they exist in to find  other mediums like op-eds or other forms of poplar writing, because that’s another kind of way to engage with the community, and also find ways to uplift those community voices.”
  • On who she chooses to work with and why: “My project has been to uplift and work alongside young, Black queer and trans women who I think are doing the best kind of analytical and street work right now.”
  • On imagining otherwise, collectively with: “Folks who are invested in prison abolition, community control of the police, a queer and feminist politics, eliminating poverty, and ensuring that anti-blackness doesn’t reign, that those who continue to be the most oppressed to create a world from their vision.”

More from Karma:

Projects and people discussed:

About Imagine Otherwise:

Imagine Otherwise is a podcast about the people and projects bridging art, activism, and academia to build better worlds. Episodes offer in-depth interviews with creators who use culture for social justice, and explore the nitty-gritty work of imagining and creating more just worlds. Check out full podcast episodes and show notes at Imagine Otherwise is produced by Ideas on Fire, an academic editing and consulting agency helping progressive, interdisciplinary scholars write and publish awesome texts, enliven public conversations, and create more just worlds.

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About the author

Priyanka Kaura: Priyanka is a Marketing Associate at Ideas on Fire, as well as an education reformer in New York City who frequently traverses the private and public sectors to promote educational equity.