Department of Sociology

Felipe Vargas

MSc, Indiana University - Bloomington

Doctoral Student
Felipe Vargas



Critical Social Science Research using Demography and Ethnography: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration; Work and Organizations; Politics, Governance, and Public Policy; Crime, Law, and Deviance; and Comparative-Historical Sociology


Being a child of a farm-working immigrant family living transnationally, Felipe says, fuels his sociological interests in immigration, racial and ethnic relations, and social movements. While a high school teacher, he challenged the notion of Latina/o students being at risk, criminal[s] or failures, and began listening to the students, to their music and culture. His classroom became a laboratory for social analysis. He saw first-hand their social transformation as they yearned for the skills needed to effectively create social change both in their communities and in their own educational trajectory. In 2010, he was part of the Trail of Dreams (a march of undocumented students from Miami to DC) that became a focal point for DREAMer protests and civil disobedience. 

After 2010, he served the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA) organizing actions around DACA, border re-entry, and deportation. Currently he is collaborating on a study of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA) organizing structure and was recruited to be the national coordinator of training and field organizer for Roberto Gonzales' National UnDACAmented Research Project which has yielded the largest archive of testimonies of undocumented young people to date. He is motivated to study the lived inequalities of undocumented youth and their families and further understand what it means to ‘learn to be illegal.’ Additionally, he is interested in how oppressive social constructs may obstruct the “making of a life” among undocumented youth. 

Prior to coming to UT he served unaccompanied refugee children as a bilingual case manager for the Office of Refugee Resettlement National Case Management Unit for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Felipe is currently a 2nd year Doctoral Student in the Department of Sociology and a Graduate Research Trainee in the Population Research Center. As a doctoral student, he engages in critical social science research, a blended participatory methodological inquiry approach bridging demography and ethnography by using Big Data and testimonios (in-depth qualitative ethnographic interviews) to explain and understand social movements and movement actors.

Profile Pages

  • Department of Sociology

    The University of Texas at Austin
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    Austin, TX 78712-1086