Rubén Martínez is an award-winning journalist, author and performer. Among the themes covered in his works are immigrant life and globalization, the cultural and political history of Los Angeles (Martinez's hometown), the civil wars of the 1980s in Central America (his mother is a native of El Salvador) and Mexican politics and culture (he is a second-generation Mexican-American on the father's side of his family).
His essays, opinions and reportage have appeared in such publications as the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Salon, Village Voice, The Nation, Spin, Sojourners, and Mother Jones. He is the recipient of a Lannan Foundation Fellowship in Non Fiction, a Loeb Fellowship from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, a Freedom of Information Award from the ACLU, a Greater Press Club of Los Angeles Award of Excellence, and an Emmy Award for hosting PBS-affiliate KCET-TV’s Life & Times.
As a musician, Martínez has been featured on albums by Concrete Blonde, Los Illegals, and the Roches, and he has been active in the spoken word and peformance scenes for over twenty years. In August 2012 his book Desert America: Boom and Bust in the New Old West was published by Metropolitan Books. His other books include Flesh Life: Sex in Mexico City (with Joseph Rodriguez, Powerhouse Books, 2006), The New Americans (The New Press, 2004), Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail (Picador, 2002), Eastside Stories (with Joseph Rodriguez, Powerhouse Books, 1998), and The Other Side: Notes from the New L.A., Mexico City and Beyond (Vintage, 1993).
Rubén is teaching a workshop at IDA during fall quarter entitled, Art in Our Time: Ethics and Aesthetics of Crisis. The class explores the ethical and aesthetic questions artists engage when facing, in their own time and place, social crises such as arise from the physical and psychic effects of war or political instability arising from disasters manmade and natural, the drug war in Mexico, the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, the Arab Spring, the Great Recession.