Research

As an ethnographer and qualitative sociologist, I investigate the politics of racialization, racism, and immigration in Brazil and Latin America. My work has examined how asylum policies are made and implemented, racial hierarchies shape those processes, and refugees experience those policies as they navigate them. Particularly, I investigate the racial politics of refugee inclusion in Brazil: how forced migrants are racialized by the state and beyond, and with what consequences for what asylum means in practice. Though most stories we tell about refugees are North American and European ones, 86 percent of forced migrants are in the Global South. Moreover, research on race and immigration in Brazil has been predominantly historical, leaving underexamined how immigration and Brazil’s racial order are mutually constituted today.

I also work on race in South America broadly. In an invited chapter for an edited volume on the Chicago School, I present Donald Pierson’s Negroes in Brazil (1942) as a cautionary tale of how racial pre-constructed objects of inquiry can overdetermine sociological findings. The theoretical frameworks Pierson brought with him to the field—namely, Robert E. Park’s race relations and Gilberto Freyre’s racial democracy—blinded him from grasping conceptually the anti-blackness he documents empirically in his work. In “Black Brazil Never Slept,” I analyze media coverage of the 2013 protests in Brazil, uncovering that violence against white women became a rallying cry for popular political action, while black mobilization was depoliticized as violent chaos and violence against blacks ignored (Contexts, 2014).

In new lines of research, I examine how whiteness is constructed through policies and experiences of immigration past and present in Latin America’s Southern Cone — Argentina, Southern Brazil, and Uruguay. I also am pursuing a research study on “Cognition and Human Rights” with Monika Krause (LSE, Sociology), where we investigate “human rights” as a cognitive concept: people’s implicit understandings of human rights, human rights violations, and their geographies.

I also write about ethnographic pedagogy and public sociology, particularly through a collaborative approach. I have co-authored work on teaching ethnography as a theoretical endeavor (Research in Urban Sociology, 2018); participated in two collaborative, public-geared books — Portraits of Latin America: Thirteen Stories of Hardship and Hope (under review) and Invisible in Austin: Life and Labor in An American City (UT Press, 2015); and reflected on pursuing public sociology as a localized intervention and collective enterprise (Qualitative Sociology, 2017).

In past work, I’ve examined racial and gendered inequalities in concealed carry applications and denials in the US, and the politics of memory and human rights in Argentina.