writer • professor




The Unintended traces the subtle ways legal thinking through photographic lenses reinscribed a particular aesthetics of whiteness in the ownership over images. The book pulls together an archive that encompasses performance and portraiture alongside the legal, emphasizing the making of “expression” into property to focus our attention on the failures of control that cameras do not invent, but rather put new emphasis on. The Unintended proposes that analyzing the sensed horizons of intentionality is another way into understanding how white supremacy functions. Ultimately, its unique reading practice offers a historically-specific vantage on the everyday workings of racial capitalism and the inheritances of white supremacy that structure so much of our lives.


“Wholly original and exciting...Monica Huerta addresses the workings of capital in relation to the medium—not only photography’s status as a commercial practice, but also how it took up and redefined the ways bodies could be regarded as property. Closely historicized yet wide-ranging in its implications, Huerta’s book models a profoundly ethical attention to what the photographic archive can reveal.” — Dana Luciano, author of How the Earth Feels: Geological Fantasy in the Nineteenth-Century United States

“Locating performative acts by and for the camera, Huerta gives us an interdisciplinary book that frames photographic material as crucial to how we understand artistic authorship culturally. With playfulness and wit...this an excellent read for scholars of theater, arts, and law.”
— Jess Saldaña, Lambda Literary Review

The Unintended considers ‘stories about photography’s history as property’ and shows how much is at stake when someone claims to own an image. Expression gives way to possession, and matters of law, credit, identity, and aesthetics all hang in the balance.
Monica Huerta seems to deliver a surprising analytic turn on every page. This book made my head spin.” — Caleb Smith, author of Thoreau’s Axe: Distraction and Discipline in American Culture

“This argument is asks us to question how expressions of whiteness are reflected through photographic images and photographic practice, and how under white-surpemacy, expressions of whiteness were used to legitimize photographic image copyright as a form of property maintenance.” — Ever Josue Figueroa, Ethnic and Racial Studies


In Magical Habits Monica Huerta draws on her experiences growing up in her family's Mexican restaurants and her life as a scholar of literature and culture to meditate on how relationships among self, place, race, and storytelling contend with the afterlives of history and racial capitalism.


“This striking debut blends personal and political essays with U.S. and Mexican histories, photos, menus and a fable to indulge ‘multiple habits of thought rather than proposing there is one way of knowing.’”The New York Times Book Review

Magical Habits is as much a treasure trove as it is a book—full of surprises, glittering insights, lyrical vignettes, personal archives, political history, family lore, and brilliant literary critique. The writing is exquisite, for the book is both polyphonic and constantly—effortlessly—changing tack. I would turn the page without any sense of where Monica Huerta might take me next, only knowing that I wanted to follow, that I did not want to come out from under this spell.” 
— Justin Torres, author of We the Animals

“Monica Huerta moves readers toward a habit of being captured by objects that mesh one's own singular and collective histories. We learn to breathe with them and to be dispossessed by them. This fantastic book enchanted me and taught me so much.” — Lauren Berlant, author of Cruel Optimism 

Magical Habits’s blend of personal archive and theory prompts the reader to question their assumptions around what constitutes accepted archives and heralded academic discourse. . . . Huerta performs a rich kind of self-ekphrasis, looking at material from her own life and family for clues about how to live alongside scholarship: television, family lore, tales from her love life that read like movie reels." — Rosa Boshier, Los Angeles Review of Books intimate, academic, genre-bending study of  race, history,  and heritage...a much-needed reminder that there are countless ways to tell a story..." — Arianna Rebolini, The Millions

“Delightfully heterogenous and perfectly unblended, Huerta’s mixture of creative and critical writing spans from history to monologues, to tales and family documents. . . . As a book which ‘seeks to enact as much as describe,’ Magical Habits is a love story between the reader and the writing, one to be read with generosity and eagerness (ix).” — Adriana Murad Konings, ASAP/Journal

Magical Habits, is unlike many other contemporary Latinx studies monographs. It breaks with generic conventions of literary criticism and stuns with Huerta’s reflections on everyday encounters with history and capitalism via family, place, race, self, and the stories they intertwine.” — Jennifer M. Lozano, MELUS

“Monica Huerta delivers a labyrinthine and whimsical study....The reader’s curiosity will be piqued by Magical Habits’ experimental structure, and by the author’s decision to abandon traditional academic writing in favor of an intimate prose that fluctuates between storytelling and critical thinking.” — Anaïs Ornelas Ramirez, Lateral: Journal of the Cultural Studies Association

“Thanks to Huerta’s text, I have finally understood that to learn from other knowledges we must think within those knowledges.” — Judith Sierra-Rivera, American Literary History

“Monica Huerta’s Magical Habits takes us deep into the possibilities of everyday objects, feelings, and questions. . . . I love this book because I, like Huerta, am committed ‘to take on scholarly rituals that lead to elsewhere.’ This memoir that is also a collage and a performance does just this.” — Suzanne Bost, Prose Studies

"Thoughtful, wry, and intimate, Magical Habits is a memoir that’s rich with questions...." — Meg Nola, Foreword

“Huerta weaves into each chapter powerful stories of her upbringing and family and the narrative of her own winding path in academia. She cleverly uses a variety of documents and historical archival material, sourced from her family and their businesses in Chicago and Mexico, to explore wide-ranging themes.” — Amy Lewontin, The Library Journal

Magical Habits is a combination of human storytelling, academic research, and life questions and can trigger a philosophical and anthropological discussion that would last for hours.” — Nivea Bona, European Journal of American Studies