Catherine Lee. Fictive Kinship: Family Reunification and the Meaning of Race and Nation in American Immigration

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - 2:30pm to 4:00pm
Blumer Room - 402 Barrows Hall

Fictive Kinship: Family Reunification and the Meaning of Race and Nation in American Immigration

Today, roughly 70 percent of all visas for legal immigration are reserved for family members of permanent residents or American citizens. Family reunification – policies that seek to preserve family unity during or following migration – is a central pillar of current immigration law and regularly lauded as a modern, liberal political achievement.  However, family reunification has existed in some form in American immigration policy since at least the mid-nineteenth century and has been an important feature in passage of exclusionary as well as expansive immigration policy. Catherine Lee delves into the history of family reunification to examine how and why our conceptions of family have shaped immigration control, the meaning of race, and the way we see ourselves as a nation. Professor Lee also explores how ideas about family unity may shape political action for changing our current immigration policy.

Catherine Lee is associate professor of sociology and faculty associate at the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research and the Center for Race and Ethnicity at Rutgers University. As a political sociologist, she examines how meanings of race and ethnicity shape social relations and inequalities across three critical sites: immigration; science and medicine; and law and society. Catherine is the author of Fictive Kinship: Family Reunification and the Meaning of Race and Nation in American Immigration (2013, Russell Sage) and co-editor of Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race, and History (2012, Rutgers University Press). Her current projects include an investigation of racial disparities in pain management and the politics of narcotics control and a study of how social institutions are addressing ideas of racial ambiguity or uncertainty tied to shifting demographics and rise of multiraciality.