Affiliate(s): Southwestern Social Science Association, Southwestern Sociology Association

Dr Liliana Rodriguez, assistant professor of sociology at Texas A&M University-Kingsville and SSSA member, recently announced two publications, linked below with abstracts. Congratulations, Liliana!

This article examines how newcomer immigrant teens navigate a heightened, anti-immigrant climate in the United States. Drawing on 24 months of ethnographic observations and interviews with adolescent arrivals who immigrated in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election, this study highlights the nuanced ways adolescent arrivals negotiate their precarious situations. For newcomer teenagers navigating two life-changing transitions at once – adolescence and immigration – their experiences coalesce producing distinct levels of stress and anxiety for the youth. This study finds that amid hardships and dire circumstances that surround them, the youth use humour as a lens to process their experiences. I find that the youth engage in humour as a form of political expression to make fun of social conditions. They do this by mocking and ridiculing anti-immigrant discourses. This play world created by the youth provides an alternative understanding of immigrant youth culture during contested political times.
Drawing on 24 months of participant observation and interviews with adolescent arrivals in the central coast region of California, this study examines how recently arrived immigrant teens create spaces of belonging. This immigrant population is simultaneously undergoing two life-changing transitions—adolescence and immigration. These two, life-altering transitions, greatly shape the trajectories of immigrant youth in the host country. Unfamiliar with US customs, the educational system, or the mainstream language, adolescent arrivals constantly struggle to belong in a place they hardly know. I advance the concept of immigrant youth vitality to conceptually analyze how shared experiences based on the age of migration and context of reception shape how immigrant youth create safe spaces for themselves. As recent immigrants and teenage newcomers, adolescent arrivals are experiencing for the first time the wrath of anti-immigrant politics directed at them. This study shows that adolescent arrivals often navigate life in the host country by relying on the familiar and their collective experiences including discrimination and exclusion to create spaces where they feel safe and welcomed. I find that by claiming safe spaces the youth actively engage in redefining what belonging means, looks, and feels like for newcomer teenagers.