Welcome to the Sociology Department

  • Portrait
  • Maria Espinoza
  • Email: mespinoza@sociology.rutgers.edu
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • My research centers on risk communication, environmental politics, and the climate-health nexus.

    My main interest is in how certain narratives about infectious diseases (e.g., the “outbreak narrative”) become the norm, prioritizing biotechnological fixes and shifting attention away from questions of social and environmental justice, public health infrastructure, and the lingering impact of economic reforms that enable disease to spread in the first place.

    For my dissertation project, I focus on the dengue epidemic that hit Peru in 2017 after the unexpected climate phenomenon El Niño Costero. Specifically, I’m investigating how public health experts communicate with decision-makers and diverse publics about the expansion of climate-sensitive diseases in the face of a changing climate. I aim to shed light on the challenges that public health professionals encounter when communicating about dengue risk and climate change, and on the technologies of legitimacy they rely on to render their claims legible to different publics.

    With Melissa Aroncyzk, I’m the author of A Strategic Nature: Public Relations and The Politics of American Environmentalism, forthcoming in November 2021 for Oxford University Press. In this project we take a historical look at how promotional culture and environmental information systems have shaped our understanding of environmental problems in the United States since the birth of the PR industry in the early twentieth century.

    During my time at Rutgers, I have been a graduate fellow at the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis, participating in the 2015-2016 project “Ethical Subjects: Moralities, Laws, and Histories.”

    Prior to pursuing a doctoral degree, I earned a B.A. from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and an M.A. in Sociology from Syracuse University. I have also worked both in the social sector as a venture coordinator for Ashoka in the Andean Region and in the private sector as a consultant conducting social and environmental impact assessment studies.

Upcoming Events

29 Sep 2021
10:00AM -
Undergraduate Committee Meeting
06 Oct 2021
10:00AM -
Graduate Program Committee Meeting
13 Oct 2021
10:00AM -
Faculty Meeting
20 Oct 2021
11:30AM -
Jason B Phillips Memorial Lecture

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