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Current PhD Students

Centre of Latin American Studies


Jessica A. Fernández de Lara Harada



Before coming to Cambridge, I graduated with a first class honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Law from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and completed a Master of Arts degree in Latin American Studies with distinction at University College London. I also worked at International Law Firms, in the Private Sector, and Government for some years. In 2016, I joined the Centre of Latin American Studies as a Gates Cambridge Scholar.

My doctoral research is concerned with the experiences of migration across generations. I explore this by focusing on the histories, life experiences and trajectories of Japanese migrants and their descendants in Mexico. In particular, I am interested in Japanese migrants who settled in Mexico before the Second World War and how their experiences of exclusion, forced displacement and concentration during this period impacted on subsequent generations' sense of identity, inner community and external dynamics with Mexican Society. This aims to expand discussions on racism, xenophobia and violence towards ethnic minorities in this region.

My main methodological approach consists of multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork that combines in-depth interviews, extensive survey questionnaires, and detailed archival research. I conducted fieldwork research in the United States, Mexico and Japan from January 2018 to January 2019, and travelled extensively to the main cities of settlement for Japanese migrants and their descendants (Nikkei) in Mexico where I interviewed 180 families.

PhD Supervisors

Dr. Monica Moreno Figueroa

Prof. Loraine Gelsthorpe

PhD Advisor

Dr. Brigitte Steger

Research Interests

Transpacific migrations; migrants' and ethnic minorities' processes of incorporation, integration and exclusion; ‘mestizaje’, race, gender, generation and class; memory, violence and concentration/incarceration of migrants.

Research Groups and Affiliations

  • Researcher for the Survey of Nikkei Communities in Latin America commissioned by Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • Center for Historical Studies Visiting Scholar at El Colegio de México under the Supervision of Prof. Pablo Yankelevich.
  • Co-Founder and Co-Convener of the CRASSH Graduate Research Group 'Power and Vision: The Camera as Political Technology'

Other Interests

World literature, world history,  art and culture, graphic novels, pottery, short stories, running and playing squash.