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Sarah Amira de la Garza (Amira) is a Southwest Borderlands Scholar and Graduate Faculty Member of the Theatre & Performance in the Americas at Arizona State University. She is an Associate Professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at ASU, where she heads the Innovative Inquiry Initiative and teaches courses in performance studies, ethnography & qualitative research methods, and intercultural communication. She has a Ph.D. in Speech Communication from The University of Texas at Austin and a D.Min. from The University of Creation Spirituality, where she also served briefly as Academic Dean and Co-Director of the Doctor of Ministry program. At Arizona State University, she is Affiliate Faculty with the School of Transborder Studies, Women & Gender Studies, and the North American Center for Transborder Studies, as well as Disciplinary Faculty with Barrett: The Honors College. She also serves as technical advisor to The Marsh: Breeding Ground for New Performance (San Francisco/Berkeley), and was PI of a Social Science seed grant for the Shakespeare Cognitive Research Consortium at ASU.
Dr. de la Garza has held two Fulbright scholarships to Mexico, where she was inspired to create the Four Seasons of Ethnography an ontologically based methodology employing systematic deep reflexive methods along with traditional qualitative and ethnographic methods heavily informed by Grounded Theory methods (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). As a methodologist, she has also developed a methodology, PEQuA, Playback for Ethnographic & Qualitative Analysis, has led individuals in deep shadow work and active imagination practices to process triggers and clear blind spots in one’s ethnographic and autoethnographic explorations, and spiritual processes of transformation. She specializes in the development of intentional, guided art as meditation practices for personal life work as it relates to one’s creative writing. Since 2009, she has enjoyed a collaboration with her colleague, Lee Gutkind, in the development of pedagogies and workshops in creative nonfiction.
She’s practiced yoga since 1978, having been introduced to it through her studies of modern dance, and committed seriously to it in 1987, after being struck by a car and suffering a traumatic brain injury. This brain injury led to a total redirection of her professional work to emphasize work that would become her methodology of The Four Seasons, and eventually, to her development of the system of spiritual integration, Kabbalasana®, which emerged from her own practice and study in the integration of her life following the brain injury and the changes it brought about in every area of her life.
She is author of Maria Speaks: Journeys Through the Mysteries of the Mother in My Life as a Chicana and numerous book chapters and published poetic works and articles. As Director of Innovative Inquiry, an initiative of the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at ASU, she has led the launch of a small press to publish and distribute innovative methodologies. The first book was a festschrift collection of essays
to honor the late H.L. “Bud” Goodall, Jr., both a long-time friend and colleague at the HDSHC, who passed away in August of 2012.
Presently, she is working to edit a collection of creative nonfiction essays by undergraduates, Real Lives of College Students: Beyond Spring Break and Happy Hours.
She is also working on various projects, including a novel, Double Vision, a social fiction based on over two decades of research and study of Mexico and the borderlands, and a performance piece about memory, identity and her experience living with a traumatic brain injury in the academy, “Las Cuatro Animas.” She continues with her long-term project developing the concept of what she calls “Mindful Heresy,” including a variety of performance pieces to explore the concept using embodied methodology and active imagination.
Her work all centers on her career-long passion for the study and exploration of how communication, socialization and well-being intersect and relate to each other in our lives and identities. She is committed to the study of spiritual integration of personas, life narratives, shadow and dream work, and has led workshops, retreats, and ritual events since the 1970’s.
She may be reached by commenting on this website or by following her blog, fourseasonsdreamer.com or on twitter @amiradelagarza.