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Distinguished Professor's lecture to address construction of immigrants' legal status

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

LAWRENCE — University of Kansas Foundation Distinguished Professor of Sociology Cecilia Menjívar will deliver her inaugural distinguished professor lecture at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 25, in the Summerfield Room of the Adams Alumni Center. The topic will be “Immigrants’ Legal Status: Constructions and Consequences.”

“The lecture is going to focus on how immigrant legal status is created through laws and how immigrants are categorized into such legal statuses, with special focus on how so many Latino immigrants have been placed into criminalized categories,” said Menjívar who also is co-director of the KU Center for Migration Research. “The role of law, together with the media, will be examined, as well as some of the effect that these processes have for immigrants and non-immigrants alike.” All are welcome to attend the presentation.

Menjívar joined the Department of Sociology in fall 2015 as one of the university’s Foundation Distinguished Professors, a unique partnership between KU and the state of Kansas to attract 12 eminent scholars to support one or more of the university’s four strategic initiative themes. In spring 2016, with Foundation Distinguished Professor of Sociology Victor Agadjanian, she founded the KU Center for Migration Research, which they co-direct.

Menjívar’s research has advanced the understanding that immigrant social networks are not uniform sources of support, as they can weaken under certain structural conditions immigrants encounter. Menjívar also has conducted pioneering work on the link between immigration and religion. She also has examined violence in the lives of women, particularly in the northern countries of Central America. This work has generated new understandings of the various forms of violence that women experience, including institutional, structural, symbolic and political. This work has shed light on what “post-conflict” societies around the world may be like for women, such as those societies where levels of violence today are greater than those during wartime. This research has been foundational for understanding how various forms of violence inform the increased migration of women from certain countries experiencing heightened levels of violence today.

Menjívar has received a number of awards and recognition for her work, including a career award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. In April she was named one of the 2017 Andrew Carnegie Fellows. She recently served as vice president of the American Sociological Association.

Menjívar graduated with bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology and a master’s degree in international educational development from the University of Southern California. She received her master's degree and doctorate in sociology from the University of California at Davis. She then completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California at Berkeley. She joined Arizona State University as an assistant professor in 1996. While at ASU, she was named the Cowden Distinguished Professor at ASU in recognition of her meaningful work in the area of the family. 

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