Helen B. Marrow

Helen B. Marrow is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Tufts University, with affiliations in American Studies, Latino Studies, Latin American Studies and the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy.  She teaches courses on sociology, social policy, immigration and the media, and qualitative research methods, and has been designated one of the university’s Neubauer Faculty Fellows (2011-12) and Tisch Faculty Fellows (2014-15).  In 2014-15, she is serving 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) draws on 129 in-depth interviews and a year of participant observation to understand how Hispanic/Latino newcomers are being incorporated into or excluded from economic, social, institutional, and political life in “new immigrant destinations” of the rural U.S. South.  She has 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 has been 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 new paper on heterogeneity in Mexican Americans’ assimilation patterns (co-authored  with Richard D. Alba and Tomás R. Jiménez) was recently published in Ethnic and Racial Studies (March 2014).  Her recent 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) For this scholarship, she was also 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 (Cornell), sociologist Dina Okamoto (Indiana), and social psychologist Linda Tropp (UMass-Amherst), we are using survey data, in-depth interviews, and field observations to examine patterns and 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 Foundation, Cornell University, Indiana University, and the University of California Center for New Racial Studies (UCCNRS).

The second, 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 (Georgetown), and sociologist Monica McDermott (UI-Urbana Champaign), we are analyzing existing survey data on perceived discrimination (PD) in the U.S. and Canada, and piloting 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.

Helen has also been participating in several exciting collaborative ventures.  In one, she has been working with sociologist and fellow RWJ Health Policy alum Tiffany Joseph (Stony Brook) to analyze the implications of national healthcare reform (ACA) and proposed national immigration reform bills for unauthorized immigrants’ access to and quality of care. Together, we are pooling our two case studies of near-universal access to care programs — one local (San Francisco) and the other state (Massachusetts) — to show what lies ahead for this population and the national healthcare safety net.

In another, Helen has teamed up 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, both intended to model the selectivity and characteristics of Americans who indicate some interest in potentially living abroad. To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine Americans’ interest in 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 in the New York Times, the Miami Herald, Harvard Magazine, and Tufts Now. 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 and a faculty affiliate of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University.

Helen grew up in eastern North Carolina.  She currently lives outside Boston with her husband Mike and always-on-the-go toddlers George and Virginia.  She likes to cook, jog and do yoga, hang out with friends and family, watch TV, and travel in her “spare” time as a working mom.  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.


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