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Research Agenda

What are the social forces that bring us together and keep us apart? What does it take to feel like we belong, to a community and to one another? My research shows how powerful institutions like law and media categorize groups into an “us” and a “them” and make the boundaries between us feel real and natural. I also show how these categories matter for everyday people, the communities where we feel like we belong, and how this “groupness” shapes our identity, our politics, and even our imaginations of what type of society may be possible.

A Selection of Current Projects


Reconciliation through Reckoning: Healing Deep Divides through Grassroots Memory Work

How can processes of truth and reconciliation work to bridge community divides in the U.S. by resurrecting local pasts? This project examines the mechanisms through which grassroots truth and reconciliation commissions unfold, the dilemmas that emerge, and how to scale up from the challenges and successes of these practices.


Racialized Police Violence and Emotional Stress

Courtney Boen and I examine the racialized spillover effects of anti-Black police violence, particularly as these events shape emotions, feelings of stress, and psychological well-being in ways that affect individual health and contribute to population-level racial disparities.


Anti-Asian Hate in the COVID Era

With AJ Alvero and Alejandra Regla-Vargas we are examining the relationality of anti-Asian hate and Asian American mobilization in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.


"Racism is a Pandemic Too": Student Activism after COVID-19

This Russell Sage Foundation-supported project examines how students imagine possible futures and mobilize towards them in the aftermath of COVID-19 and the 2020 racial reckonings.


Voter ID Laws & Immigrant Organizations

How does stringent voting legislation impact immigrant-serving organizations? In this SSRC funded project, Blanca Ramirez and I investigate the impact of Voter ID laws on organizational strategies in six states with varying levels of immigrant receptivity.


Framing Immigrants in the News, 1990-2020

With Dina Okamoto, we are examining media constructions of immigrant identities over time using computational text analysis of millions of U.S.-based news articles mentioning immigrant activism from 1990-2020.


Tracing Arab/Muslim/Middle Eastern Coalition-Building, 1960-2020.

With Deniz Uyan, this project examines when and how coalitions form between Arab, Middle Eastern, and Muslim groups, using news data and computational text analysis to analyze trajectories of alliances from 1960 to 2020.

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