Helen B. Marrow is Associate Professor of Sociology at Tufts University, 2016-17 Interim Director of the Program in Latino Studies (part of the broader Consortium of Studies on Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora), and an affiliate in the Department of Latin American Studies. Helen teaches courses on sociology, social policy, immigration and race, immigration and politics/media, Latinos, and qualitative research methods. In 2014-15, she served as Co-Leader, along with Erin O’Brien of UMass-Boston, of the Boston area Scholars Strategy Network, an organization of scholars that seeks to make the democratic and policy implications of academic research more broadly accessible to the media, politicians, and American public.
Helen’s research and writing focus on immigration, race and ethnicity, social class, health, and inequality and social policy. Her book, New Destination Dreaming: Immigration, Race, and Legal Status in the Rural American South (Stanford University Press, 2011) drew on 129 in-depth interviews and a year of participant observation to understand how Hispanic/Latino newcomers were being incorporated into or excluded from economic, social, institutional, and political life in “new immigrant destinations” of the rural U.S. South in the early 2000s (before the recent restrictive turn against immigrants took place in 2005). She also published this research in the American Sociological Review, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Perspectives on Politics, and Dædalus: The Journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. For her work in this area, she was awarded the 2008 Best Dissertation Award from the American Sociological Association, the 2011 Distinguished Contribution to Research Article Award from the Latino/a Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association, and an Honorable Mention for the 2014 Distinguished Early Career Award given biannually by the Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities of the American Sociological Association.
Helen’s other research has been published in various places. A paper on heterogeneity in Mexican Americans’ assimilation patterns (co-authored with Richard D. Alba and Tomás R. Jiménez) was published in Ethnic and Racial Studies (2014). Her 2009 case study of the effects of San Francisco’s inclusive policy context toward unauthorized immigrants in health care was published in special volumes on immigration and health in Ethnic and Racial Studies (2012) and Social Science & Medicine (2012). Recently, Helen drew on this case study to team up with fellow sociologist and RWJ Health Policy alum Tiffany Joseph (Stony Brook) to analyze the implications of national (the Affordable Care Act) versus state and local (San Francisco and Massachusetts) health care reform policies on unauthorized immigrants’ access to care, a collaboration now forthcoming in the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. For this scholarship, Helen was awarded the 2010 Best Paper Award from the First Annual Research Training Workshop of the University of California Centers of Expertise on Migration and Health (COEMH). Results from two earlier projects — the first on second-generation Brazilians’ racial and ethnic identities in the United States, and the second on first-generation Latin Americans’ racial and ethnic identities in Ireland — were both published in Ethnicities. Along with sociologist Mary C. Waters and historian Reed Ueda, she is co-editor of The New Americans: A Guide to Immigration since 1965 (Harvard University Press, 2007).
Helen is currently working on two interdisciplinary research projects via the Russell Sage Foundation. One is entitled “Immigrant-Native Relations in 21st-Century America: Intergroup Contact, Trust, and Civic Engagement.” In collaboration with political scientist Michael Jones-Correa (University of Pennsylvania), sociologist Dina Okamoto (Indiana University), and social psychologist Linda Tropp (University of Massachusetts-Amherst), we are using original survey data, in-depth interviews, and field observations to examine patterns of cultural contact and threat among two native groups (whites and blacks) and two immigrant groups (Mexicans and South Asian Indians) in metropolitan Philadelphia and Atlanta, with an eye toward their impact on intergroup trust and civic participation. In addition to being funded by a Presidential Authority Award and a Project Award from Russell Sage, work for this project has been supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Cornell University Population Center, Indiana University, and the University of California Center for New Racial Studies (UCCNRS). We recently presented this study at the 2015 National Immigrant Integration Conference in New York, and to two stakeholder meetings in each of our metro research sites in Fall 2016, in addition to presenting ongoing results at various academic conferences (including IMISCOE).
The second project, funded by a Presidential Authority Award from the Russell Sage Foundation, is entitled “Perceived Discrimination among Immigrants as a Function of Community-Level Variables.” In collaboration with social psychologists Victoria Esses (University of Western Ontario) and Cheryl Kaiser (University of Washington), political scientist Daniel Hopkins (University of Pennsylvania), and sociologist Monica McDermott (Univeristy of Illinois-Urbana Champaign), we have analyzed existing survey data on perceived discrimination (PD) in the U.S. and Canada, and piloted new and more refined questions about PD among convenience samples of Mexican and Chinese immigrants, to examine variation in how immigrants perceive themselves as targets of discrimination. Our first paper, in which we document how immigrants’ perceptions of discrimination in the United States are not spatially patterned in the same way that natives’ negative attitudes toward immigrants are, appears in Politics, Groups, and Identities.
In a third exciting collaborative venture, Helen worked with political scientist Amanda Klekowski von Koppenfels (University of Kent at Brussels) to field a nationally-representative pilot survey and follow-up interviews in the summer of 2014, intended to model the selectivity and characteristics of Americans who indicate some curiosity about potentially living abroad. To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine Americans’ curiosity about emigration from the point of view of the sending country, which we plan to expand into future analyses of Americans living abroad.
Prior to coming to Tufts, Helen served as a Robert Wood Johnson Postdoctoral Scholar in Health Policy (UC-Berkeley and UCSF, 2008-10); a European Network on Inequality Research Fellow (Harvard University and University College Dublin, 2006); a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow (Harvard University, 2002-04 and 2005-06); a Research Fellow with the Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy (Harvard University, 2001-04); and a Foreign Language and Area Studies Summer Fellow with the U.S. Department of Education (Brazil, 2002). She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Policy from Harvard University, where she received four Certificates of Distinctions in Teaching, and her A.B. (summa cum laude) in Sociology and Latin American Studies from Princeton University, where she received a President’s Award for Academic Achievement in 1998.
Helen has been interviewed and quoted on National Public Radio, in the New York Times, the Miami Herald, Harvard Magazine, Tufts Now, and The Society Pages. She has also recently authored op-eds on the importance of immigration reform to assimilation in the Los Angeles Times (with Tomás R. Jiménez) and the Raleigh News and Observer. She is a member of the Scholars Strategy Network (Boston chapter) and a faculty affiliate of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University. Previously at Tufts, she was designated one of the university’s Neubauer Faculty Fellows in 2011-12 and one of its Tisch Faculty Fellows in 2014-15.
Helen grew up in eastern North Carolina. She currently lives outside Boston with her husband Mike and kids George (5), Virginia (4), and James (1.5). Once upon a time she liked to cook, do yoga, hang out with friends and family, watch TV, and travel, but all her “spare” time as a working mom means she now tries to prioritize family, students, and a bit of writing each week alongside not forgetting to go to the grocery store. She speaks proficient English, Spanish, and Portuguese — unfortunately those learn-it-yourself French tapes and that one night course in elementary Mandarin never stuck — and has studied, worked, or volunteered in Belize, Brazil, Ecuador, Ireland, Mexico, and Spain.