Department of Sociology

Christine Wheatley

M.A., Colorado State University

PhD Candidate
Christine Wheatley



Political Sociology, Migration, Law, Race/Ethnicity, Gender/Sexuality, Criminology, Labor


Christine Wheatley is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Sociology and a Graduate Fellow in the Urban Ethnography Lab at the University of Texas at Austin.  As a political sociologist, her research primarily concerns the role of immigration law in the nation-state’s exercise of territorial sovereignty and the consequences of borders for people within and beyond them.  Her dissertation, "Fragmented Borders: Deportation, Precarity, and Migrant Belonging in the U.S.—Mexico Region," examines the social impacts of current U.S. deportation laws and policies on both sides of the U.S.—Mexico border.  Tracing the process of deportation from detention to immigration court to hometowns of undocumented return migrants in Mexico, she examines how these laws and policies shape the experiences of removal for noncitizens placed in deportation proceedings as well as the transnationalism and socioeconomic reincorporation among deportees and other returnees in Mexico.  For this study, she conducted participant observation and in-depth interviews for 22 months in Texas and Jalisco and Oaxaca, Mexico between 2010 and 2014.

Her dissertation shows that efforts by the U.S. state to “harden” the border since the 1996 passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) have resulted in an uneven spatial dispersion of the border.  These “micro” borders extend deep into the interior of the U.S. and Mexico, producing legal, economic, and social precarity for migrants and exacerbating social inequalities largely related to legal status, nationality, and status as deportees.  What emerges from these fragmented borders is a patchwork of unstable, contradictory, and even paradoxical configurations of inclusion and exclusion in the U.S.—Mexico region.  Her dissertation unsettles fixed concepts of the state, borders, and citizenship, pointing to a reconfiguration of how state sovereignty is exercised and the reach and limits of state power.

This research is supported by a fellowship from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and various grants and fellowships from the University of Texas at Austin, including the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies, the College of Liberal Arts, and the Department of Sociology.  

Her publications include:

Christine Wheatley.  Forthcoming.  “Driven ‘Home’: Stories of Voluntary and Involuntary Reasons for Return among Migrants in Jalisco and Oaxaca, Mexico.”  In Return Migration: Mexican and Central American Perspectives, edited by Bryan R. Robert, Cecilia Menjívar, and Néstor P. Rodríguez.  New York: Springer Press 

Christine Wheatley.  2015.  “Punishing Immigrants: The Unconstitutional Practice of Punitive Immigration Detention in the United States.”  In  Border Criminologies for themed week, “Deportation Threat, Realities, and Practices in the United States,” May 4.

Christine Wheatley and Néstor P. Rodríguez.  2014.  “With the Stroke of a Bureaucrat’s Pen: U.S. State ‘Reforms’ to Manage its Undocumented Migrant Population, 1920-2013.”  Pp. 157-178 in Hidden Lives and Human Rights in the United States: Understanding the Controversies and Tragedies of Undocumented Immigration, Volume 1: History, Theories, and Legislation, edited by Lois A. Lorentzen.  Westport, CT: Praeger Press

Christine Wheatley.  2011.  “Push Back: U.S. Deportation Policy and the Reincorporation of Involuntary Return Migrants in Mexico.”  The Latin Americanist 55(4): 35-60.  [Special Issue: Latin American Migration] 


SOC 307L • Gender/Race/Class Amer Soc

44885 • Spring 2015
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM WEL 2.256
(also listed as WGS 301)


This course examines the interplay of gender, race, social class, and sexuality in American society. Drawing on lectures, readings, and films, we will explore how gender, race, class, and sexuality operate not simply as ways of categorizing people, but as interrelated differences and inequalities that have very real consequences for the opportunities people have and the challenges they face. We begin by examining each core concept from a sociological perspective – as social constructions that help to rationalize and justify social inequality. We will then focus our attention on the relationships among them – how gender, race, class, and sexuality intersect to shape individual experiences, daily social interactions, and society. Next, we examine how these differences and inequalities matter in a variety of interpersonal and institutional contexts, such as popular culture, family life, education, the criminal justice system, and the labor force. Finally, we will evaluate solutions to social inequality and strategies for social change.


Newman, David. 2012. Identities and Inequalities: Exploring the Intersections of Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality, 2nd edition. McGraw-Hill.

Ore, Tracy E. 2014. The Social Construction of Difference and Inequality: Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality, 6th edition. McGraw-Hill.

Grading and Assignments:

Quizzes/exams and writing assignments though probably not a long research paper.  More specific requirements TBA.

Curriculum Vitae

Profile Pages

  • Department of Sociology

    The University of Texas at Austin
    305 E 23rd St, A1700
    CLA 3.306
    Austin, TX 78712-1086