UCLA Latino Policy Studies Research Projects 2008-2009

Lideres Campesinas: Transnational Migrant Organizing Strategies

Principal Investigator: Maylei Blackwell, Assistant Professor, UCLA Cesar E. Chavez Center for Chicana and Chicano Studies

Labor groups representing immigrant women are grossly understudied, yet an understanding of local labor groups is crucial for evaluating the larger processes associated with globalization, such as mass migration and the establishment of transnational labor rights. The study will examine the experiences of women in Lideres Campesinas, a statewide organization that works with women farm workers in California. This project’s ethnographic approach will elicit the voices of individuals, their values, and their motivations, allowing the portrayal of grassroots labor from the ground up. Results will enrich the fields of transnational and Chicana/o studies by exploring the intersectionality of the women’s experiences in terms of negotiating multiple systems of power, oppression (e.g., different cultural systems, different forms of patriarchy), and self-empowerment at a binational level. The study will show how these negotiations with different hegemonic structures are creating new diasporic subjectivities (i.e., subjective transnationalism). Results from this study will provide information for policymakers at local, national, and transnational levels.

Homeownership and Wealth among Mexican Americans

Principal Investigator: Vilma Ortiz, Professor, UCLA Department of Sociology

This project will use longitudinal and inter-generational data from the Mexican American Study Project (MASP), a CSRC-based study headed by Professors Vilma Ortiz and Edward Telles. This study, an important extension of the larger project, will examine data dealing with homeownership and wealth among Mexican Americans. It will shed light on the relationships among several economic indicators, particularly the extent to which financial status and occupational status are related. Moreover, it will critically assess generational and assimilation issues and their significance to the economic status of Mexican Americans. Together, these evaluations will permit a detailed examination of the economic status of Mexican Americans. This study, which will draw from a unique set of data based upon information gathered from over 1,400 respondents in Los Angeles and San Antonio, will make a considerable contribution to scholarship in Chicana/o studies by addressing an area of critical importance: the economic wellbeing of this community.

Riding the Yellow Bus in a Post-Brown Era: Experiences of Mexican-Origin Students in a Racially Integrated Suburban School Setting

Principal Investigator: Ofelia Huidor, PhD candidate, UCLA Graduate School of Education

This project will examine the reasoning and the process by which Mexican-origin students and their parents decide to travel out of predominantly Latino communities into suburban, predominantly white schools via the LAUSD’s Permits with Transportation (PWT) program, a voluntary busing program. The study will draw on resistance theory and the sociocultural dimension of schooling and employ a qualitative methodology to focus on participants’ perspectives and accurately represent their responses. This project will make a significant contribution to studies of school desegregation, which traditionally have focused on the experiences of African American students, and it may have an impact on public policy. It is essential that this study be undertaken now: in response to the Supreme Court’s 2007 ruling that race cannot be used as a factor for school assignment, LAUSD may eliminate the PWT program.

Trenches Under the Pipeline: Understanding the Chicano Male Continuation High School Experience

Principal Investigator: Maria Malagon, PhD candidate, UCLA Graduate School of Education

Critical race theory and Chicana feminist epistemology provide the framework for this study of Chicano males in continuation schools. Although often ignored, this population comprises one-tenth of high school students and one-fifth of students in eleventh and twelfth grades. Traditionally, research on this population has been framed by a perceived cultural deficit, which in effect associates the behavior of at-risk students with their minority status. This project will instead use oral histories to identify the institutional barriers that contribute to the low academic attainment of Chicano continuation students. The project will make a significant contribution not only to the research on this student population but also to discussions at the policy level.

Sueños Indocumentados

Principal Investigator: Lindsey Perez Huber, PhD candidate, UCLA Graduate School of Education

This project will examine the critical issue of undocumented students in public higher education, looking in particular at how race, class, gender, and immigration status intersect in this context. This project has the potential to illuminate the struggle that undocumented students experience while they navigate educational waters and to contribute significantly to the public policy debate that surrounds this issue.