Saavedra's book, Pasadena Before the Roses: Race, Identity, and Land Use in Southern California, 1771-1890, (University of Arizona, 2018) examines and details the social and cultural history of how Spanish, Mexican, American and Indigenous groups’ competing visions of land use affected the formation of racial and cultural identity in Pasadena, California, during this period. This work reconceptualizes how culturally subjective ideas about race, masculinity, and visions of optimal land use became tangible representations of political projects of conquest, expansion, and empire building.
She has published on topics ranging from Chicana Feminism, Chicana/o History, LGBTQ History, U.S. History, and Borderlands History. Other research includes the recently published "Of Chicana Lesbian Terrorists and Lesberadas: Recuperatin the Lesbian/Queer Roots of Chicana Feminism, 1970-2000" (Feminist Formations, Summer 2022) examining the lesbi-queer roots of Chicana feminism, and an article titled "Speaking for Themeselves: Rancheras and Respectabilty in Mexican California, 1800-1850," (California History, Spring 2023) tracing the development of hegemonic ranchera femininty in nineteenth century Californio culture.
Her current research agenda reflects work on several projects including her second full length book tentatively titled Living la Mala Vida: Transgressive Femininities, Morality, and Nationalism in Mexican California, 1810-1850 a study that (re)defines masculinity, femininity, gender, and sexuality within Mexican nationalism and concepts of political and social citizenship.
Saavedra is co-editor of BorderVisions a borderlands books series with the University of Arizona Press.
She is a the recipeint of the 2019 Western History Association Huntington Library Martin Ridge Fellowship, a 2021 Oregon Humantities Center Faculty Research Fellowship, a 2021-2022 Faculty Research Grant from the University of Oregon's Center for the Study of Women in Society, and a 2022 Research Grant from the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies at the University of Oregon. Saavedra was recently awarded the 2023 "Chicana Caucus Publication Recognition" by the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies' Chicana Caucus.