Mary Jane Collier


Photo: Mary Jane Collier


Office: Room 214

Ph.D., University of Southern California, 1982


I joined the faculty of the University of New Mexico as a Professor in 2006. I served as the director of the Doctoral Program from 2007-2009 and the director of the Institute for Communication, Culture & Change from 2010-2011. I have held three previous faculty appointments and/or served as department chair at the University of Denver, Oregon State University, and California State University, Los Angeles. I have been a Visiting Fellow at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, Birkbeck College at the University of London, and Corrymeela Centre for Reconciliation in Northern Ireland.  I was editor of volumes 23-25 of The International and Intercultural Communication Annual, published by SAGE, with themes addressing cultural difference in discourse, transforming communication about culture, and intercultural alliances. I am a past-president of the Western States Communication Association.


My current (although always evolving) areas of research specialization are the following: critical intercultural praxis and community engagement, intercultural conflict management and peacebuilding, negotiation of intersecting cultural identifications (including national, ethnic, racial, gender and class-based) in communicative discourses; and negotiation of intercultural relationships and alliances in projects related to social change and social justice. At present I approach these issues from critical/interpretive and praxis orientations.

I am interested in the following broad research problematics in local, national, and international settings:

  • How can a framework of critical/interpretive praxis be applied in intercultural community engagement in order to increase justice, equity and inclusion?
  • How can scholar/practitioners in conflict and peacebuilding contribute to and benefit from a multilevel, multidimensional framework to cultures and communication, integrating macro, meso and micro contexts, structures and communicative discourses/texts and orientations to equity, inclusion and justice?
  • How are multiple, intersecting cultural identifications negotiated by group members with different status positioning in various types of recognized conflicts?
  • How are intercultural relationships and intercultural alliances negotiated and how do they function to enable and/or constrain projects of social change and social justice?
  • What are forms and consequences of discourses, practices and relationships through which academic researchers, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and communities, collaborate on international and local “development”?
  • How do public discourses around such topics as immigration reflect and challenge ideologies of privilege and status positions linked to race, sex and class?

Current projects

Community Engagement and Intercultural Praxis: Dancing with Difference in Diverse Contexts (2013, Critical Intercultural Communication Studies, Tom Nakayama, Book Series Editor, New York: Peter Lang.) Intercultural Communication Studies book series, Tom Nakayama, Editor of Book Series. Book Synopsis: While community engagement to enhance justice, equity, and inclusion is at the heart of this book; dancing with difference is the overarching metaphor. It is these dances with difference through which groups and individuals deal with contextual forces, negotiate cultural identities, subjectivities, and positioning, and orient toward their work. Cultural difference emerges in identifications and representations evident in discourse and texts from international, national, regional, and local representatives; as structural productions, such as histories and global and local institutional and organizational policies and practices, and as socially constructed shared and unshared political itineraries at different times, places, and spaces. Featuring case studies of several international, national and local organizations, the book showcases first-hand and public discourses related to community engagement work in  Nepal, Northern Ireland, Kenya, Zimbabwe, a national U.S. anti-poverty initiative, an organization committed to seed sovereignty/land reclamation in the Southwest, and a pan-Asian identity-based organization in the Southwest. A framework of critical/interpretive intercultural praxis is offered to guide both research and practice across the case studies.

I am continuing to collaborate with colleagues associated with International Peace Initiatives in Kenya on evaluation and community based research to understand how cultural identity positioning and inter subjectivities are negotiated in contextually complex and contingent relationships among those working to enhance the voices of, security and resources for women and vulnerable children.

I am continuing my work with a national nonprofit organization, Circles USA, to coordinate research, evaluation and curriculum development, to move families out of poverty. This grant funded research has resulted in one major formative evaluation report (with Dr. Brandi Lawless, University of San Francisco) based on 90 interviews with initiatives throughout the U.S., continuing evaluation which is driving curriculum refinement and program development, and essays under review.

Sample Publications

  • Broome, B. & Collier, M.J. (2012). Culture, communication and peacebuilding: A reflexive multidimensional contextual framework. Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, 5, 245-269.
  • Chen, Y-W. & Collier, M.J. (2012). Discourses of intercultural identity positioning: Interview discourses from two identity-based nonprofit organizations. Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, 5, 43-64.
  • Collier, M.J., Parsons, R., Hadeed, L. & Nathaniel, K-A. (2011). Problematizing national dimensions: Community members’ views of conflict management in Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies. Howard Journal of Communications, 22(2), 140-162.
  • Oliha, H. & Collier, M.J. (2010). Bridging divergent diversity standpoints & ideologies. The International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, 10(4) 61-73.
  • Parsons, R.J, Hadeed, L., Collier, M.J. & Nathaniel, K.A. (2010). Preferences for conflict resolution processes in Trinidad and Tobago. Caribbean Journal of Social Work, 8/9, 32-53.
  • Collier, M.J. (2009). Contextual negotiation of cultural identifications and relationships: Interview discourse with Palestinian, Israeli, and Palestinian/Israeli young women in a U.S. peacebuilding program. Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, 2(4) 344-368.

  • Thompson, J. & Collier, M.J. (2006) "Contingent intersecting identifications among selected U.S. interracial couples: Integrating interpretive and critical views." Communication Quarterly.

  • Collier, M.J. (2005). "Theorizing cultural identifications: Critical updates and continuing evolution." In W.B. Gudykunst (Ed.) Theorizing about Intercultural Communication, (pp. 235-256). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

  • Collier, M.J. (2005). "Context, privilege, and contingent cultural identifications in South African group interview discourses." Western Journal of Communication, 69, 295-318.

  • Collier, M.J. (2003). "Negotiating Intercultural Alliance Relationships: Toward Transformation."   In M.J. Collier (Ed.) Intercultural Alliances: Critical Transformation (pp 1-16) Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

  • Collier, M.J., Hegde, R. S., Lee, W., Nakayama, T.K., & Yep, G.A. (2002). "Dialogue on the edges: Ferment in communication and culture." In M.J. Collier (Ed.) Transforming Communication About Culture: Critical New Directions. (p. 219-280). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

  • Collier, M. J. (2001). "Reconstructing Cultural Diversity in Global Relationships: Negotiating the Borderlands." In G. M. Chen & W. Starosta (Eds.) Diversity, identity and global society. (pp. 215-236). New York: P. Lang Publishers.

  • Collier, M.J. & Muneri, C.T. (in press). A Call for Critical Reflexivity: Reflections on Research With Nongovernmental and Nonprofit Organizations in Zimbabwe and Kenya. Western Journal of Communication.

  • Collier, M.J. & Lawless, B. (in press). Critical reflexivity as engaged intercultural praxis: Academic/Practitioner reflections about a formative evaluation of Circles® USA.Journal of Applied Communication Research.

  • Collier, M. J. (2015). Partnering for Anti-Poverty Praxis in Circles® USA: Applications of Critical Dialogic Reflexivity. Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, 8,3, 208-223.

Selected Awards and Honorary Appointments

  • Outstanding 2012 Article in International and Intercultural Communication (with Benjamin Broome). (Presented November, 2013). Division of International and Intercultural Communication, National Communication Association. Presented for: Culture, communication, and peacebuilding: A reflexive multi-dimensional contextual framework, Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, 5, 245-269.
  • Spotlight Scholar Award. (February, 2010). International and Intercultural Communication Interest Group, Western States Communication Association conference, Anchorage, Alaska.
  • Visiting Scholar. (January, 2009). Corrymeela Centre for Reconciliation, Ballycastle, Northern Ireland.
  • Feminist Scholar Award. (February, 2006). Organization for Research on Women and Communication. Presented for Myers, M & Collier, MJ (2005) Cultural ascriptions displayed by restraining court representatives: Implicating patriarchy and cultural dominance. Women’s Studies in Communication, 28, 258-289.
  • Visiting Scholar. (Sept – Nov., 1999). Centre for Rhetoric Studies, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Visiting Scholar. (Nov. – Dec., 1996). Birkbeck College, University of London.
  • Distinguished Scholarship Award. (Nov., 1994). African American Communication, (co-authored with M. Hecht & S. Ribeau) Outstanding Book Published in 1993, given by the International and Intercultural Communication Division, Speech Communication Association.
  • Overseas Research Fellow. (July-Aug., 1992). Centre for Science Development, Human Sciences Research Council, Pretoria, South Africa.

Teaching Areas

At UNM I have taught various courses in intercultural communication theory & research, identities and subjectivities, culture, conflict & dialogue; culture and conflict: communication strategies for transformation; intercultural conflict and community building, mediation, and introduction to graduate studies.


I have served as an elected member of the C & J Executive Committee, Merit Committee and served as director of the C&J Doctoral Program. I have been a member of the UNM Consortium for Collaborative Public Policy. I am active in the Western States Communication Association. I am a consulting editor for the Journal of International and Intercultural Communication and regularly serve on editorial boards of journals including: Western Journal of Communication, Communication Monographs, Communication Quarterly, Howard Journal of Communication, and NCA Non-serial Publications. I am a founding board member of International Peace Initiatives – Kenya.