I am Associate Professor of Sociology and 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 first 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 Mexico and the US, I illustrate the importance of local politics for migration patterns, immigrant advocacy, and women’s political mobilization.
I am now studying the forced displacement of Mexican deportees and Central American asylum seekers. In collaboration with several graduate and undergraduate students at UCSD, I explore how US state violence shapes masculinity, citizenship, and belonging. The first paper from this project, “Forced out of Fatherhood,” is forthcoming at Social Problems.
I have also published on power dynamics within transnational social movements and on gender and politics. 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.