Alumni Spotlight: Cecilia “Lia” Uy-Tioco Obtains Tenure at California State University San Marcos

Alumni Spotlight: Cecilia “Lia” Uy-Tioco Obtains Tenure at California State University San Marcos

Over the summer, Cultural Studies alumna Cecilia "Lia" Uy-Tioco has been awarded tenure and promotion to the rank of Associate Professor of Media Studies in the Department of Communication at California State University San Marcos! To mark the occasion, we share with you a brief interview with Lia conducted by Severin Mueller.

Congratulations on your tenureship! Could you tell us a little about your current position and how you came to join CSUSM?

Thank you! It’s been odd to have something to celebrate during a global pandemic and political nightmare.

Like many folks, I came to CSUSM because there was an opening for a media/cultural studies scholar with a focus on emerging media and mobile communication in relation to issues of culture, social justice, and globalization. The Communication department has two degrees—Communication and Media Studies. I was the first full-time hire for the newly revamped Media Studies program and was thrilled that it was critical media/cultural studies leaning. Since the degree program was undergoing this major change, I’ve been able to help build and shape it, adding three new electives to the then existing four. Because we’re a teaching university, I teach a 3-3 load. It’s a of work and we do a lot of service as well, so it’s a challenge to make sure research doesn’t suffer. Teaching and advising at NCC (now called School of Integrative Studies) where I was able to hone my teaching skills and develop elective courses, as well as teaching CULT 320 Globalization & Culture and COMM 302 Foundations of Mass Communication at GMU while a grad student really prepared me well for the teaching (and service) aspects of the job.

Could you share with us one of your best memories of your time in the PhD Program in Cultural Studies?

Oh there are too many! Academically, the mentorship and guidance of Tim Gibson who was my dissertation chair. I am so grateful I got to work with him and hope that I can be as supportive and encouraging to my students as he was with me. I treasure the friendships I have made with fellow CS students and professors. Taking classes (especially with my cohort during our first year), stressing over field statements, languishing in dissertationland (a term coined by Katy Razzano), enjoying many dinners together (especially with Fan Yang), drinking wine in Dina Copelman’s backyard til 3am. Going to conferences with each other, whether in the US or abroad was also a lot of fun. I am grateful that many of us are able to reunite at CSA, ACS/Crossroads, and ICA conferences as well as during my annual visits to the DC area, and of course keep in touch over social media, since we are all over the world!

What types of projects are you currently working on in your research?

My co-edited book Mobile Media and Social Intimacies in Asia: Reconfiguring the Local and Reenacting the Global came out last January. My co-editor and I are working on two journal articles that furthers the concept of “glocal intimacies” that we developed in our book. This pertains to how mobile technologies have normalized and intensified the way that people’s relationships of closeness are entangled in the ever-shifting and constantly negotiated flows between global modernity and local everyday life. I am also in the beginning stages of two book chapters, one on digital media and the Philippine diaspora and the other on mobile communication and Filipino women in the margins. I’m hoping to be on sabbatical next year to do research in the Philippines and finally transform my dissertation into a book manuscript, which examines the history of mobile phones in the Philippines, taking on a multi-layered analysis of information communication technologies (ICTs) by drawing the links between global economic forces, state policies, services provided by the telecoms, expansion efforts to the poor for economic development, and the everyday experiences of local mobile phone users. I haven’t had a chance to really work on this because other research/publication opportunities came up, so I am really excited to return to this research. So far, I’ve only published one journal article that came out of my dissertation research--‘Good enough’ access: Digital inclusion, social stratification, and the reinforcement of class in the Philippines,” which came out in 2019.  

Do you have a piece of advice for students in the Cultural Studies Program regarding professional development and/or the job market?

Organize your materials well. Job calls seem to ask for so many documents and if your files are messy, inconsistent, and not properly labeled it doesn’t look professional. Make it easy for search committees to learn about you and your work. Seek feedback from peers and professors. Also, reach out to us CS alums! We are always happy to help. Try to get something published while you are still a student. Unfortunately, this is increasingly an expectation for new PhDs. And in a tight job market, this would really help. Practice, not just your research talk, but also your teaching demo. Also have prepared answers for what I call “HR type questions” such as “Tell us about a time when you faced conflict with colleagues and how you overcame it.” Those questions always caught me off guard! Haha!

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