Professor Ochoa’s research focuses on the processes of state building, globalization, resistance, and migration. His award- winning Feeding Mexico: The Political Uses of Food Since 1910 (2000) examined the politics of state intervention in the economy and its connection to the rise and demise of the social welfare state during the 20th century. Ochoa’s work on transnational Latino/a communities led to the 2005 co-edited book, Latino Los Angeles: Transformations, Communities, and Activism that explores the formation and reformation of diverse Latino/a communities in Los Angeles.
In addition, Ochoa published regarding critical and innovative approaches to teaching Latin American Studies and history in the classroom and in communities. His recent publications include Water: History, Power, Crisis, a special issue of Radical History Review (co-editor, 2013), “The Political History of Food,” in The Oxford Handbook of Food History (2012), and “Food History” in Oxford University Bibliographies Online: Latin American Studies (2011). He has served on the editorial boards of the journals Latin American Perspectives and Radical History Review.
In the community, Ochoa has worked extensively with students, teachers, and community activists. He is a frequent speaker on issues on multiculturalism, globalization, and social justice issues in the Américas in K-12 classrooms, at universities, for teacher in-services, and for community organizations. Between 1997-2007, he co-directed a College Mentoring Program for high school students to help them develop critical thinking skills while learning about history, culture and community empowerment. He worked with high school teachers to bring students to CSULA and to Cal Poly Pomona for special programs. Additionally, Ochoa has served on the national steering committee of Historians Against the War, and is currently a member of the board of directors of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights-Los Angeles. His community and civic engagement also includes several opinion articles and interviews with youth and immigrant rights activists.
Ochoa’s approach to teaching is rooted in his larger outlook on life and the importance of civic engagement, community building, and well-being. He draws on critical social theory and praxis that argues for the use of education to foster the development of healthy, educated people with the critical faculties to engage in transforming their communities for the common good. Ochoa has developed classroom and community links, through community engagement and action projects where students develop group projects that link course material to personal or community issues and to transcend the confines of the classroom in their presentation.
A native of Los Angeles, his parents met as students at CSULA and his early years were spent on campus as they both were finishing their teaching credentials. He grew up in the San Gabriel Valley and graduated from Glen A. Wilson H.S. in Hacienda Heights. He received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in History from UCLA. In addition to teaching at CSULA he was a lecturer at CSUDH and from 2006 to 2008 was the Michi and Walter Weglyn Endowed Chair of Multicultural Studies at Cal Poly Pomona.