Dr Laura Loyola-Hernández

Dr Laura Loyola-Hernández


My interests are decolonial thought, feminist political geography and critical race studies with a focus on Latin America. My research and teaching is based on a feminist decolonial perspective.

My current project is sponsored by a British Academy Postdoctoral fellowship. This project examines the role emotions have in non-traditional political acts for women to be elected in indigenous communities in Yucatán, Mexico. That is, this project seeks to explore the role emotions have in indigenous customary politics. Emotions in politics is an emerging field in political geography. By concentrating in indigenous communitities, important questions can be answered, such as: how do politicians deal and perform emotions differently? What role do emotions play in the constitution of the gendered, racial and ethnic body? What kind of emotional performances are considered as appropriate in indigenous communities regarding politics? These types of questions give an insight into how politics is performed and lived in the everyday lives of constituents. It also sheds light into the complex and nuance dynamics that are involved in indigenous politics.

I was granted a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award to organise a two day event (September 2019) around #resistance:Exploring digital protest by marginalised groups. This two-day event, held at the University of Leeds brought together early career researchers, activists and senior academics from diverse disciplines working on daily resistance and onlice activism. This event had both face to face and virtual presentations, following a module of a Nearly Carbon-Neutral Conference (NCN). Given the nature of the proposed theme, the event sought to use social media and the internet as acts of resistance against neoliberal policies, global warming and an increasing hostile environment towards immigrants. Participants from around the world participated without having to travel. This type of model challenges hierarchical geopolitical power regarding the production and dissemination of knowledge. Podcast from the presentations are now available to listen free of charge via https://www.mixcloud.com/ExploringDigitalProtest2019


Research interests

My doctorial thesis focused on how bodily and spatial understandings of gender, race and ethnicity affect the process by which twenty Maya women were selected as candidates and elected into government in indigenous municipalities in Yucatán (2012-2015). While mainstream studies in Mexico focus on female politicians after their election, my work covers both the selection of these women as mayoral candidates and the first year of administration. Through an analysis of sixty in-depth interviews and participant observation, my thesis offers a unique view on the particularities of the women’s trajectories into office. My work engages critically with Judith Butler’s (1993, 1997, 2006) notion of ‘performativity’ by adapting it to the study of ethnic and spatial relations. Performativity is re-conceptualized as a tool of analysis that allows us to comprehend the different ways in which the state and society shape gender, racial and ethnic identities. My research shows how female politicians often have to navigate between identities assigned to them by society and their own understanding of what it is to be Maya and women. Furthermore, and following the work of Elizabeth Grosz (1994, 1995, 2001), an analysis is made about how female politicians see their respective municipalities as extensions of their bodies and as performative spaces (Gregson and Rose, 1999; Davis and Walker, 2010) in ways that allow them to negotiate meanings of femininity, indigeneity and politics. My thesis also builds upon and extends the insights of critical race studies that examine how race is a social construction and performance that has been propagated by mestizaje and currently by multiculturalism. In Yucatán, multicultural policies that tend to privilege a specific image of what it means to be indigenous. In these policies, indigeneity is largely framed as a cultural marker that has no place in the formal realm of politics. Thus, while the legacy of indigenous groups has a place in the nation’s history, there are limited spaces for the political empowerment of indigenous groups. Hence, multiculturalism impacts how female indigenous subjects are disciplined by the state.


Loyola-Hernández, L. (2019) Spatial crossings: gender, race and politics in Yucatecan Maya municipalities, Gender, Place & Culture, https://doi.org/10.1080/0966369X.2018.1518312

Loyola-Hernández, L. (2018) The porous state: Female mayors performing the state in Yucatecan Maya municipalities, Political Geography,6: 48-57, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polgeo.2017.10.002

Loyola Hernández, Laura Teresa (2011) Las doñas quieren jugar: presidentas municipales en Yucatán, Madrid: Editorial Académica Española (The ladies want to play: female mayors in Yucatán)

Loyola Hernández, Laura Teresa (2011) “Mi casa, mi pueblo: presidentas municipales en Yucatán” In Cejas, M. and Lau Jaiven, A. (eds.) Mujeres y Ciudadanía en México: estudios de caso, Mexico City: Itaca/Conacyt/UAM-X (“My house, my pueblo: women mayors in Yucatán” in Women and citizenship in Mexico: case studies)

Loyola Hernández, Laura Teresa (2011) 'El poder detrás de las palabras: El discurso hacia la mujer antes y después de la Revolución Islámica en Irán'; In Barrera Bassols, D. and Arriaga Ortiz, R. (eds.) Género, Cultura, Discurso y Poder,
Mexico City: ENAH (The discourse towards women before and after the Islamic Revolution in Iran” in Gender, Culture, Discourse and Power)

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • 2019 Associate Fellow of Higher Education Academy
  • 2018 British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Geography, University of Leeds
  • 2016 PhD in Geography, University of Cambridge, UK
  • 2010 Masters in Women's Studies, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Xochimilco (Mexico)
  • 2007 BA International Relations, Universidad de Monterrey (Mexico)

Student education

I teach in Level 2 and Level 1 undergraduate modules in the School of Geography. I welcome any enquiries about PhD supervision around feminism, political geography, decolonial and critical race studies, activism and social media.

Research groups and institutes

  • Social Justice, Cities, Citizenship
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>