Speaker Series

Thu, October 30, 2014

November 20, 2014

Speaker: Fernando Torres-Gil

Professor of Social Welfare, Professor of Public Policy, and Director of the Center for Policy Research on Aging at UCLA

Co-sponsored by the Irma Rangel Public Policy Institute and the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs

Professor Torres-Gil gave a public lecture titled "The Politics of Aging in a Diverse America: Accepting the New Reality"

From the flier: "As our country’s average age and immigrant population increase, it is worthwhile to understand the intersection of aging, diversity, economy, and policy. In his upcoming lecture, Dr. Fernando Torres-Gil, who served as former Assistant Secretary for Aging under President Clinton, discusses the relationship between aging of society and the current debates around immigration reform."

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Speakers: Jessica Lavariega Monforti (University of Texas Pan American) and Melissa Michelson (Menlo College, CA)

Co-Sponsored with the Irma Rangel Public Policy Institute, Department of Government, Center for Mexican American Studies, Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, and the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS).

Professors Lavariega Monforti and Michelson discussed their new book (co-authored with Maria Chavez, Pacific Lutheran University), Living the Dream: New Immigration Policies and the Lives of Undocumented Latino Youth (Paradigm Press, 2014).

As described by the publisher: "In 2012, President Obama deferred the deportation of qualified undocumented youth with his policy of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals forever changing the lives of the approximately five million DREAMers currently in the US. Formerly “illegal,” a generation of Latino youth have begun to build new lives based on their newfound “legitimacy.” In this book, the first to examine the lives of DREAMers in the wake of Obama’s deferred action policy, the authors relay the real-life stories of more than 100 DREAMers from four states."

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Speaker: Randall Hansen, University of Toronto

Co-Sponsored with the Department of Government, Department of History, and Population Research Center

Randall Hansen (University of Toronto) discussed his recent book (co-authored with Desmond King, Oxford University), Sterilized by the State: Eugenics, Race and the Population Scare in 20th Century North America (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

From the publisher: “Sterilized by the State is the first comprehensive analysis of eugenics in North America focused on the second half of the twentieth century. Based on new research, Randall Hansen and Desmond King show why eugenic sterilization policies persisted after the 1940s in the United States and Canada. Through extensive archival research, King and Hansen show how both superintendents at homes for the ‘feebleminded’ and pro-sterilization advocates repositioned themselves after 1945 to avoid the taint of Nazi eugenics. Drawing on interviews with victims of sterilization and primary documents, this book traces the post-1940s development of eugenic policy and shows that both eugenic arguments and committed eugenicists informed population, welfare, and birth control policy in postwar America. Simply put, the anti-population growth movement, the Great Society programs, and the early choice movements were shot through with eugenicists and eugenic arguments.”

Randall Hansen is a political scientist and historian at the University of Toronto, where he has held the Canada Research Chair in Political Science since 2005. Hansen taught at the Universities of London (Queen Mary), Oxford (where he was a tutorial fellow at Merton College), and Newcastle (where he held an established Chair) before taking up his current position.  His fields of research are Twentieth Century History and Public Policy. He has authored two books, Citizenship and Immigration in Postwar Britain (Oxford University Press, 2000) and Fire and Fury: The Allied Bombing of Germany 1942-1945 (Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2008), co-edited three books, and has published numerous articles and book chapters on immigration and citizenship.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

"The Dynamics of Radical Right-Wing Populist Party Preferences and Perceived Group Threat: A Panel Analysis of Three Competing Hypotheses in the Netherlands"

Speaker: Carl Berning

Visiting Research Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democracy at the University of California, Irvine, and PhD student at the University of Cologne (Germany)

Co-Sponsored with the Center for European Studies

Paper Abstract:

Existing cross-sectional research considers citizens’ preferences for radical right-wing populist (RRP) parties to be centrally driven by their perception that immigrants threaten the well-being of the national ingroup. However, longitudinal evidence for this relationship is largely missing. To remedy this gap in the literature, we developed three competing hypotheses to investigate: (a) whether perceived group threat is temporally prior to RRP party preferences, (b) whether RRP party preferences are temporally prior to perceived group threat, or (c) whether the relation between perceived group threat and RRP party preferences is bidirectional. Based on multiwave panel data from the Netherlands spanning the years 2008-2013, we examined the merits of these hypotheses using autoregressive cross-lagged structural equation models. The results show that perceptions of threatened group interests precipitate rather than follow citizens’ preferences for RRP parties. These findings clarify our knowledge of the dynamic micro-social mechanisms underlying RRP party preferences.


Carl Berning studied Sociology and Political Science at the University of Cologne, UC San Diego and Utrecht University, NL. He graduated from the University of Cologne in 2011 (with the equivalent of an MSc in Sociology) and is a PhD student at Cologne.  Currently he is a visiting research fellow at the Center for the Study of Democracy (UC Irvine). Before his stay in Irvine, he was a visiting researcher at the University of Nijmegen, NL. He is a fellow of the research training group SOCLIFE  “Social Order and Life Chances in Cross-National Comparison” and granted a three year scholarship funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG), 2011-2014.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

“National Identity and Perceptions of Political Systems in Europe”

Speaker: Lauren McLaren 

Associate Professor of Politics, School of Politics and International Relations, University of Nottingham; Associate Editor, Political Studies

“Early theories about support for political systems indicated that affection for one's national community should be related to attitudes to specific components of the nation-state's political system. However, we know very little about whether these are, in fact, related to one another. Using a rare survey that includes items measuring connection to national community, perceptions of what it means to be a country-national, and trust in various aspects of the political system, this paper shows that strong attachment to national community may help to produce positive perceptions of the political system, as predicted by these early theories. The paper also contends that in the modern age of mass immigration, emphasis on differing components of national identity is likely to have variable effects on perceptions of political systems and that official government policies toward newcomers moderate this relationship.”

Dr. McLaren received her PhD from the Department of Political Science at the University of Houston.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

“A New Theory of Immigrant Political Socialization”

Speaker: Marcela Garcia-Castanon
Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Political Science, University of Washington 

Co-sponsored with the Irma Rangel Public Policy Institute

This talk will cover the core elements of the speaker’s dissertation on the mechanisms of immigrant political socialization in the United States. She argues that the experience of migration alters traditional political socialization patterns for immigrants. More specifically, she focuses on the intersection of the family as an agent of socialization and information resource when dealing with multi-language media resources.

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

“‘What is Your Color or Race?’ The Politics of Ethnic Census Categories in Latin America”

Speaker: Victor Armony, 2012 Canada-US Fulbright Visiting Chair in Policy Studies at the University of Texas at Austin & Professor of Sociology at the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM). 

The basic challenges faced by public institutions in recognizing and accommodating the identities of minority (or subaltern majority) groups are now common to most countries in the Americas. Cultural and ethnic diversity has become an important aspect of policy-making and public debate: complex issues such as immigration and naturalization reform, the application of antidiscrimination norms, the implementation and assessment of affirmative action, curriculum guidelines for education, language use and bilingualism, religious freedom and secularism, etc. require facing the question of “Who are we and who are them?” This talk will focus on the ways in which several countries in Latin America seek to identify the ethnic “Other” through a very particular institutional process: the construction of census categories. To what extent does naming the “Other” in official discourse become a controversial political and legal issue?

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

“Quebec’s Nationalism against Canada’s Multiculturalism: Is Democratic Legitimacy at Stake?”

Speaker: Victor Armony, 2012 Canada-US Fulbright Visiting Chair in Policy Studies at the University of Texas at Austin & Professor of Sociology at the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM).

Canada, a highly decentralized federation with constitutionally enshrined bilingualism and multiculturalism, has the highest per capita immigration rate in the developed world. Despite this reality, and given Canada’s weak national identity, it is surprising that internal diversity has not generated any serious social or political rifts. However, the province of Quebec, with almost one quarter of that country’s population, has acquired a quasi-state status, a sort of nation within the nation. Supported by a majority of the French Quebecois people, the government of that province imposes restrictions on the choice of language of business and education, openly rejects multiculturalism, and enforces different selection and integration criteria for immigrants -- based on Quebec’s particular interests rather than Canada’s. In the face of such a context, an external observer might discern a deficit of liberal-democratic legitimacy on Quebec’s part. But by taking into account the larger historical, sociopolitical, and demographic context, it can also be argued that Quebec’s actions actually reflect the core of democratic sovereignty -- its foundations and its inherent contradictions.

April 29, 2011

“Policy Making at the Margins: The Role of the Federal Courts in U.S. Immigration Policy.”

Speaker: Anna O. Law, Associate Professor of Political Science, DePaul University (now the Herbert Kurz Associate Professor in Constitutional Law and Civil Liberties at Brooklyn College, CUNY)

Dr. Law received her Ph.D. from the Department of Government at the University of Texas at Austin in 2003.

Co-sponsored with the Irma Rangel Public Policy Institute, Population Research Center, and Department of Government

In the late spring of 2011, Anna Law spoke about her recent book, The Immigration Battle in American Courts (Cambridge University Press, 2010).  As described by the author, "The book examines the role of the Supreme Court and U.S. Courts of Appeals in immigration policy making in the United States, while also advancing scholarly understanding about the differing functions of the two highest federal appellate courts over time.  The major premise of the study is that because the Supreme Court and the U.S. Courts of Appeals operate in decidedly different institutional settings, these two courts decide immigration cases in dissimilar ways and that the varying approaches have implications for the immigrant litigants.  I argue that institutional settings can shape its occupants' goals, preferences, and perceptions about how they should be doing their jobs.  I find that immigrants have a better chance of winning their legal challenges at the U.S. Courts of Appeals than the Supreme Court.  This situation is not due to any Supreme Court xenophobia or animus against immigrants, but because that Court, shaped by its institutional setting, is inclined to treat individual cases in the framework of larger policy and political questions.  By contrast, the dissimilar institutional setting of the Courts of Appeals orient those judges toward error correction, which leads to a higher probability of success for immigrants.  The study, which uses multi-disciplinary and multiple methodological analysis, explores the ways in which law, policy, and legal institutions interact.”

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