Christine Arce

UM Assistant Professor of Spanish

June 2018

UM’s Department of Modern Languages and Literatures hired Dr. Arce in 2008 to broaden its regional focus, teaching students about another Latino community in South Florida that has consistently flown under the radar: the Mesoamericans. Growing up in Los Angeles, Arce made frequent visits to her father’s native Mexican homeland. That experience contributed to her doctoral studies at University of California Berkeley, and today helps her build a more relatable Mesoamerican curriculum around literature, music, movies, and art from that heritage.  


Recently published the book “Mexico’s Nobodies: The Cultural Legacy of the Soldadera and Afro-Mexican Women.”


“There’s a cultural competency [in Miami] that’s always mitigated by the Cuban experience,” says Arce. “Mexico is part of the greater Caribbean, so what I’ve done with the students is put Mexico into a larger context that they know.” At the classroom level, she’ll present her research by playing Mexican music, such the 1958 rendition of “La Bamba” by Richie Valens. “I’ve developed community engagement courses that align Latin American migration with actual practicum in the field, where students are translating for undocumented workers or people seeking to regularize their immigration status,” says Arce, noting that Mexican and Central American migrants pick Florida’s produce, clean its hotels, and clear its tables.  

Reported by Julienne Gage