American Studies ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-14-2020


This dissertation provides an interdisciplinary critical study of refugee resettlement to Albuquerque, New Mexico. I argue that refugee resettlement to the United States cannot be understood separately from the ongoing structure of settler colonialism. I analyze Albuquerque’s post-WWII militarized settlement as a settler colonial process of extraction and suburbanization that depended on Native labor and resources to fuel the growing nuclear weapons program. Albuquerque’s Kirtland Air Force Base played a role not only in displacing and thus producing refugees during the Vietnam War but also in marking Albuquerque as a distinctly militarized geography to which they were resettled. Thousands of refugees from regions of the Global South affected by U.S. militarism, imperialism, counterinsurgency, and warfare have subsequently been housed in the city’s International District, also referred to as the War Zone. Militarized settlement and suburban settler colonialism have contributed to racialized and gendered hierarchies of labor, housing, education and health and they foster uneven exposure to extractive industries, toxic contaminants, nuclear waste, and militarized police violence. Artists and activists contest these structures by working towards demilitarization and decolonization.




Settler Colonialism, Critical Refugee Studies, New Mexico, Albuquerque, Militarization, Empire

Document Type


Degree Name

American Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

American Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Antonio T. Tiongson Jr.

Second Committee Member

Alyosha Goldstein

Third Committee Member

Cathy Schlund-Vials

Fourth Committee Member

Danika Medak-Saltzman