I am Assistant Professor of Sociology and Urban Studies at the University of California-San Diego. I study political sociology, gender, and migration between Mexico and the United States. I also co-direct the Mexican Migration Field Research Program, training undergraduate and graduate students to do on-the-ground research in migrant communities.
My book Undocumented Politics: Place, Gender, and the Pathways of Mexican Migrants (University of California Press, 2018) examines migrant communities’ struggles for rights and resources across the U.S.-Mexico divide. For two years, I lived with unauthorized migrants and their families in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico, and the barrios of Southern California. By setting two distinct groups side-by-side, I reveal how local laws, policing, and power dynamics shape migrants’ political agency. Yet I insist that the process does not begin or end in the United States. Rather, migrants interpret the places they live in light of the different hometowns they leave behind. As they do, their counterparts in Mexico must also come to grips with migrant globalization. Finally, I upend assumptions about gender and migration. While exposing ways U.S. policies abet gendered violence, I uncover how men and women transform patriarchy as they fight to belong. Ambitious and intimate, the book reveals how the excluded find space for political voice.
My current research explores the political impacts of deportation. Together with Fatima Khayar Camara and a group of undergraduate students, I am examining the conditions that enable deportees to re-engage politically with Mexico and/or to continue fighting for inclusion in the United States. As part of this project, I look at how deportees get channeled into even cheaper labor in Mexico than in the US, and at how the fragmentation of families shapes their politics.
I also study power dynamics within transnational social movements and the role of gender in global politics. I am particularly interested in how states use ideas about gender to reinforce power inequalities and how grassroots groups transform gender relationships as they confront unfair conditions. To this end, I co-edited a theoretical handbook called The Social Life of Gender (Sage, 2018). I also co-run the Gender and Power Network, a group of cutting-edge sociologists working to theorize the complexities of gender, power, and the state.