Dr. Amy Lucinda Brandzel, an associate professor at The University of New Mexico with a joint appointment in American and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, died Tuesday, May 2, 2023 at home in the care of family and surrounded by cherished pets. (Brandzel used the pronouns they/them in professional life and so those pronouns are used below.) Diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer nearly 15 years ago, Brandzel emphatically refused to give in to the cancer, and showed inspiring strength and courage. They were always optimistic and fought to the very end.
Brandzel was an interdisciplinary scholar known for their groundbreaking contributions on the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality. They most readily identified as a queer theorist, and was hired at UNM to focus on gender and sexuality. Their teaching and research were avowedly intersectional, utilizing and intervening in queer, feminist, postcolonial, critical Indigenous, and critical race theories of subject-formations, institutional power, and coalitional resistance for marginalized and abjected communities. In particular, they engaged with rhetorical, historical, cultural, and discourse analyses of legal cases, popular culture, and academic scholarship to examine the relationship between hegemonic epistemologies and normative identities and how these function in law, citizenship, culture, and the academy. In recent years they became active in disabilities studies, inspiring their students to start the UNM's CRIP Liberation student group. They were respected by her students and honored by the UNM Alumni with a Faculty Teaching Award in 2017.
A beloved family member, colleague, teacher, and friend, Brandzel's distinctive personality was genuine and honest. They were truly their own person, though embodying many family traits including being an exceptional reader/writer/researcher from father, Tom; an advocate for those who were underrepresented from mother, Kathy; a strong and bold voice with no tolerance for ignorance from grandmother, Peggy "Grey"; a love of the outdoors/gardening/entertaining from grandmother, Dorothy "Honey”; and an affinity for music and sarcasm, shared with brother, Mike. Brandzel formed deeply intimate and loyal bonds with loved ones. They held a soft spot for Minnesota and California, two places where they spent their formative years.
Brandzel adored long conversations, often arguing with a tenacious moral imperative and exposing a generous and forever hopeful heart. They had a gift for connecting with young people and animals, particularly their nieces, nephews, and colleagues' children.
Brandzel held a B.A. in History from the University of California at Santa Cruz and an M.A. in Humanities and Social Thought at New York University. They were awarded a Ph.D in Feminist Studies from the University of Minnesota where they were one of the first graduates of that program.
Family and friends will gather to celebrate Amy Brandzel's life on Aug. 27 at 3 p.m., 416 Cardenas Dr. NE in Albuquerque, NM. They would be honored to have you join them.