Professor Fernandez completed his secondary education in Cuba, received his B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1966 and his Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University in 1971. He has been in the faculty at UC Irvine since 1969.
His research is focused on economic and cultural transactions between the U.S. and Latin America. Fernandez has authored six books , The U.S.-Mexico Border: A Politico-Economic Profile, University of Notre Dame Press, 1977; the Mexican-American Border Region: Issues and Trends, University of Notre Dame Press, 1989; Latin Jazz: The Perfect Combination, Chronicle Books and Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, 2002; One hundred years of Chicano History: Empire, Nations and Migration (with Gilbert González), Routledge, 2003; From Afro-Cuban Rhythms to Latin Jazz, Univ. of California Press, 2006; and Hablando de Música Cubana, Bogotá, 2008 .
He also edited (with Gilbert Gonzalez et al) Labor versus Empire: Race, Gender and Migration, Routledge: New York and London,2004, and (with Jeff Belnap) José Martí’s Our America: From National to Hemispheric Cultural Studies, Duke University Press, 1998., Fernandez was the Curator of the Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit Latin Jazz: La Combinación Perfecta, which opened in Washington, D.C. in 2002 and traveled to twelve US cities through 2006. Professor Fernandez is the Chair of the UC-Cuba Multi-Campus Research Program.