I am Assistant Professor of Sociology and co-director of the Mexican Migration Field Research Program at the University of California-San Diego. I study gender, migration, state power, and grassroots agency. I write, speak, and teach about the struggles of indigenous people, undocumented immigrants, deportees, and asylum seekers in Mexico, Central America, and the United States.
My award-winning book Undocumented Politics: Place, Gender, and the Pathways of Mexican Migrants (California 2018) traces how “voiceless” migrant communities confront state exclusion, upend patriarchy, and fight to belong. Drawing on two years of in-depth ethnography in four field sites in Mexico and the US, I underscore the complexities of gender and the importance of local politics.
I am currently researching the politics of forced displacement among Mexican deportees and Central American asylum seekers. In collaboration with several graduate and undergraduate students at UCSD, I explore how forced removals shape people’s citizenship, fracture families, facilitate exploitation, and inhibit or provoke advocacy. I pay special attention to the gendered dimensions of displacement and the uneven geography of removal.
I have also published on the role of gender in global politics and on power dynamics within transnational social movements. I ask how states use ideas about gender to reinforce power inequalities and how grassroots groups transform gender relations as they confront unfair conditions. I co-authored a textbook called The Social Life of Gender (Sage, 2017), which offers an accessible introduction to this approach.