My primary research agenda is global in scope and coalesces around an interest in the cultural encounters, exchanges, and ruptures between the West and other(ed) world regions. I study this by examining how increasing socio-cultural diversity (racial-ethnic, religious, linguistic) shapes migration, the perception of migrants, and majority-minority relations.
My work has been published in the journals Social Forces, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Socius, and Social Currents. I have received support for my work from the National Science Foundation, the United States Department of Education, and the German Universities Excellence Initiative through the program on migrants’ vocational integration hosted by Technische Universität Dresden.
Muslims' Place in America's Racial and Religious Order
Muslims in the U.S. have been politically targeted as a threat to the nation. Yet, little is known about how most Americans’ attitudes are formed toward this growing group. This study draws on theories of race-ethnicity, intergroup relations, and religious exclusion to situate Muslims relative to existing intergroup relations in the United States. Using four waves of the American National Election Survey, the study finds little evidence for affective solidarities between America’s largest racial-ethnic groups and Muslims. Instead, intergroup boundaries tend to predict lower levels of Muslim favorability. Further, the study uncovers a religious dimension concentrated among largely White evangelical Protestants. Findings are discussed within the context of sociodemographic changes in the U.S., and the prospect for shifting colour lines in the wake of increasing immigration-led diversity.
Histories of Conquest, Diversity, and Social Cohesion in Former Colonial Europe
Research has overlooked the influence of countries’ colonizing histories on how present-day diversity shapes forms of social cohesion. This study investigates how history shapes diversity’s influence on horizontal and vertical forms of social cohesion: support for welfare to reduce hierarchical class differences and trust of the generalized other. Using 2002 to 2014 European Social Survey and country history data, I find that while diversity often directly reduces both welfare support and trust, histories of conquest moderate this relationship. Specifically, diversity’s negative influence on social cohesion outcomes gradually diminishes with the occupation of foreign territories, in contrast to their colonization. While prior research emphasizes diversity as a straightforward negative force, current findings show that it is shaped by historical episodes of symbolic boundary making.
Citizenship, Universalism, and International Migration
This study extends macro-structural research on international migration flows by going beyond conventional economic, demographic, and geographic explanations. Prior extensions suggest that migrants are drawn to places where welfare benefits are generous. I test the welfare magnet hypothesis while proposing an alternative explanation for migration: the prospect for inclusion. Results reveal no evidence for a magnet effect to the most generous welfare states in the world, the Nordic universalist societies, net of other recognized factors, and even suggest a negative influence linked to the region’s high cost of living. Migrants are instead drawn by the promise of social and political inclusion, migrating to destinations where co-ethnics have become full-fledged citizens. Findings integrate insights on contexts of immigrant reception with research on migration flows, thus contributing to a political sociology of immigration and citizenship and opening new avenues for research on the determinants of migration to newer, more distant locations.
Racial-Ethnic Hierarchies and the Exclusion of Europe's Muslims
Research has shown that immigrants in Europe face exclusion in an increasingly hostile political climate. However, few studies comprehensively investigate whether exclusionism is patterned by a pervasive race-ethnicity hierarchy. This study bridges anti-immigrant attitudes research with the symbolic boundaries literature, which identifies Islam and Muslim ‘otherness’ as a bright ethnic boundary. I test whether immigrants of different racial-ethnic profiles are excluded along a preference hierarchy and whether this hierarchy structures intergroup contact, a well-known depressor of anti-immigrant sentiment. I find that in all sample countries same race and Muslim immigrants are the most and least preferred immigrant groups, respectively. Further, while natives’ residential isolation is typically mediated by inter-ethnic contact, both forces exert a dual influence on anti-Muslim exclusionism only. Results qualify the optimism of intergroup contact theories and indicate an extensive targeting of Muslims for exclusion beyond xenophobia or general racist sentiment.
Gender and Anti-Immigrant Attitudes
The recent politicization of gender and Islam in European immigration debates marks an increasingly salient constructed opposition between egalitarian values and traditional immigrant cultures. Against this background, this study is the first to investigate how gender structures attitudes toward immigrants of different economic and cultural profiles. I find that there is a significant reversal of traditional gendered attitudinal patterns, specifically with negative attitudes targeted toward Muslim immigrants. I interpret findings as a shift in how gender structures xenophobia resulting from the increased salience of gender ideology as a boundary-defining feature and growing demonization of Muslims as gender inegalitarian.
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Migration and Social Networks in the Global South
While conventional knowledge suggests that migrants move to better economic opportunities, largely to the advanced North, considerable South-South migration occurs particularly within Sub-Saharan Africa and between South and West Asia. How well do traditional explanations of international migration account for these movements? I examine flows between the economic spheres identified by World Systems theory to test standard and revised theories of migration. Further, I extends explanations to consider the role of social connectedness between countries in the Global South, paying particular attention to new migrant destinations.
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