Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy
PhD Urban Planning, University of California, Los Angeles
218C Social Ecology 1
Urban Planning and Public Policy
Urban policy and planning; social movements; immigration; planning theory
My research examines how immigrants achieve power and voice under very hostile conditions. This research has consisted of three interconnected projects:
First, my longterm research has focused on the role of cities in fostering the political power of undocumented immigrant activists. This work resulted in a co-authored book (with Justus Uitermark) on immigrant rights activism, Cities and Social Movements: Immigrant rights activism in the United States, France and the Netherlands, 1970-2015 (2016). Large cities incubate the activism of precarious groups like undocumented immigrants because they permit the formation of strong and productive ties between diverse individuals and organizations (e.g. nonprofits, faith organizations, unions). While cities enable powerful activist networks, not all activist networks evolve into potent social movement hubs. Local governments play important roles in mediating activist networks by either allowing them to congeal into hubs or fracturing networks through cooptation and repression.
Second, cities foster immigrant activism, but the battle for immigrant rights does not necessarily stay in cities. Activists must shift to the national scale in order to change federal immigration policy. In my most recent book, The Immigrant Rights Movement: The Battle over National Citizenship (2019), I examine how the immigrant rights movement scaled up from small, local, and radical battles in the 1990s into a massive, national, and highly coordinated movement in the 2010s. The book maintains that the shift to national politics came with important tradeoffs including oligarchy, professionalization, and the embrace of nationalist discourses to express rights claims.
Third, I am interested in how immigrant activists enhance political legitimacy in the face of enormous stigma and symbolic violence. To address the issue, I have examined the case of undocumented youth activists. This research resulted in the book, The DREAMers: How the Undocumented Youth Movement Transformed the Immigrant Rights Debate (2013). The book examines the process of transforming disparate undocumented youths into a powerful and vocal political group. To build broad public support for undocumented youth, advocacy organizations represented undocumented immigrant youth as assimilated in middle class, nationalist culture. The strategy helped build broad public support, but it also sharpened differences between “deserving” and “undeserving” immigrants.
In addition to these three main areas, I am interested in insurgent planning, gentrification politics, and the politics of local immigration policy. My new project examines the history of the anti-immigrant movement and its slow and steady rise to national political power.