One of the first topics that drew me to Sociology, and to academia and research more generally, was the complex tangle of power and heterogeneity hidden within Latinx panethnicity. That thread runs through, and arguably ties together, all my research, though it spans multiple disciplines, subfields, and research methodologies.
Investigating intra-ethnic divisions among Latino immigrants in Miami, Florida
The demographic diversification of the Latino population, both in terms of generational change and national origin, calls for the exploration of pan-ethnic Latino intra-group dynamics. These demographic shifts are particularly salient in the Miami Dade County, Florida metropolitan area, making it an ideal case study for investigating pan-ethnic social cohesion and divisions. This article analyzes forty-five semi-structured qualitative interviews with Latino immigrants in Miami from nine nationalities, and seeks to understand how immigrants from various countries perceive social divisions between and among one another, and how these perceptions and prejudices may affect their interactions and, therefore, ideas about pan-ethnic unity. We find the most significant perceived social divisions exist between Caribbean Latinos and continental Latin American Latinos.
RACIAL RESIDENTIAL SEGREGATION
I studied the dynamics of Latinx life in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area as an undergraduate, it became increasingly clear how much space and place played huge roles in people's life chances. I followed my interest in graduate school, and wrote my master's thesis on the seemingly counterintuitive, yet hardly inverse, relationship between racial diversity and racial residential segregation in the D.C. area.
Encyclopedia Entry on Racial Residential Segregation in the United States
The relationship between racial residential segregation and integration since 1960 has been neither simplistic nor linear, but has actually grown more complex over time. For example, while overall segregation levels have declined since their peak in 1960, progress has slowed significantly since 1980, and the segregation of Latinos and Asians is actually increasing (Rugh and Massey, 2013). Many demographic factors besides race, including nativity, linguistic ability, and socioeconomic status, are critical to the processes that distribute individuals and groups across social and physical space and thus either facilitate or frustrate their upward mobility. It is critical to understand modern dynamics of segregation and integration as they have significant effects on prospects for reducing racial inequality.
Pinto–Coelho, Joanna M. and Camille Z. Charles. 2015. “Racial Residential Segregation in the United States,” in the International Encyclopedia of the Behavioral & Social Sciences. Oxford, UK: Elsevier, B.V.
As both older and newer immigrant gateway metropolitan areas grow more racially diverse, scholars of neighborhood change want to know whether these areas are also becoming more residentially integrated. While it is logically and mathematically plausible to assume that increasing racial diversity directly leads to increased racial residential integration, this paper argues that the empirical reality may actually be the opposite. To investigate this concept, we use statistical and cartographic methods to analyze tract-level Census data of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, a case study that is both representative and unique. Results indicate that increasing racial diversity in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area between 1990 and 2010 coincided with increased racial residential segregation. We discuss the theoretical and methodological implications of these findings and make recommendations for future research.
LATIN AMERICAN IMMIGRATION TO AND RELEVANT POLICY IN THE GLOBAL NORTH
As a Washington, D.C. native and the daughter of a Latin American immigrant, I turned my interest in local attitudes and politices towards unauthorized immigrants into my senior honors thesis in Sociology. I applied my developing qualitative and quantitative research skills to understanding why these two counties on opposite sides of the District — Montgomery County, Maryland and Prince William County, Virginia — had such different approaches to unauthorized immigrants, and I ended up revisiting the research and rhetoric ten years later when Prince William’s failed policy program reappeared as an early Trump administration priority.
Nationalism, Nativism, and 287(g): Lessons from Prince William County, Virginia
Ten years ago, Prince William County, Virginia's Board of County Supervisors decided to localize the enforcement of federal immigration law. Local Latinxs, migrant activists, and liberal groups resisted, but over the course of the next several years, politically conservative and racially hateful rhetoric and policies damaged Prince William County’s finances, community, and reputation. The federal government has recently attempted to set up the same kinds of localized immigration enforcement programs Prince William adopted back then (e.g., 287g programs), in addition to other restrictive immigration policies, so I thought it was time to revisit my research — to re-read it, re-analyze interview transcripts, delve back into my Census data — and see what kinds of lessons I could re-learn.
Pinto-Coelho, Joanna. 2017 (2009). “Nationalism, Nativism, and 287(g): Lessons from Prince William County, Virginia.” URL: https://bit.ly/2uM1GCw
INEQUALITY IN HIGHER EDUCATION
In my dissertation, I investigated racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic inequality at the nation's elite colleges and universities, focusing on Latinos, a small but critical and growing student population on these campuses.
For my dissertation and other working papers, I analyze the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen (NLSF) is a panel study that followed approximately 4,000 students throughout their college careers at 28 of the nation’s top colleges and universities. The NLSF’s architects originally designed the survey to “provide comprehensive data to test different theoretical explanations for minority underachievement in higher education” and to “measure the academic and social progress of college students at regular intervals” (Massey et al. 2003).
Now in separate working papers, my dissertation continues to be a dynamic, interdisciplinary project that draws on literature from sociology and education as well as psychology, anthropology, and political science.
I investigate ethnic identity (including adherence to a Latinx panethnicity and feelings about common fate) among Latinxs at elite colleges and universities, across multiple lines of difference, as one of several lenses through which to understand these students' experiences of internalized racism, stereotype threat, and performance burden. I use these experiences, then, to understand differences in mental and physical health, as well as academic, outcomes across multiple lines of differences (e.g., socioeconomic status, self-identified race, individual and family nativity).