Katherine Jensen is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and International Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the Faculty Coordinator of the Wisconsin Collective for Ethnographic Research (WISCER), and a Faculty Affiliate of Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies. She is a 2022-2023 Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity Fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities at UW-Madison.
She researches race/racism, political sociology, and forced migration in the Americas, with a focus on Brazil. Her work is published in Ethnic and Racial Studies, Qualitative Sociology, American Behavioral Scientist, Social Currents, and City & Community, among other academic journals and books. She has appeared in media outlets like The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Austin American-Statesman, and Clarín. Her research has been generously funded by the Fulbright Commission, P.E.O. International, and the U.S. Department of Education, among others.
Her book, tentatively titled The Color of Asylum: The Racial Politics of Safe Haven in Brazil, is under advanced contract at the University of Chicago Press. Based on a rare ethnographic look inside the state, and following asylum seeker claims from over 45 countries, it uncovers the racial project of asylum in Brazil. As asylum officials work to determine who qualifies for refugee status, they ascribe a range of racial meanings and hierarchies to asylum seekers. Color of Asylum reveals how those varied meanings organize interactions and refugee experiences, and guide how rights and resources are unequally distributed. Taking readers on a journey through the asylum process, Color of Asylum exposes the limits of refugee status and the ramifications of whiteness and anti-black racism for forced migrants in Brazil and beyond.
She earned her PhD in Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin in 2018, with a Doctoral Portfolio in African and African Diaspora Studies. At UT-Austin, she was a Graduate Fellow of the Urban Ethnography Lab, and an Affiliate of the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice. She is a former Fulbright Fellow and P.E.O. Scholar. Before joining UW, she was a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Center for Inter-American Policy & Research (CIPR) at Tulane University. Jensen earned a BA in Latin American and Latino/a Studies from Vassar College. Before pursuing her PhD, she lived and conducted research in Buenos Aires, Argentina with the support of a Maguire Fellowship.