Research

David’s work examines interconnected migration and nationality policies in the Americas and Europe as a way to understand political membership and belonging from a transnational perspective. His research interests broadly include: race and ethnicity, social inequalities, international migration, citizenship, sociology of Latin America, political sociology, sociology of law, sociology of religion, historical-comparative and ethnographic methods. David is especially interested in the relationship between ethno-racial legal categories and ideologies of universal equality.

David recently completed work on a project entitled Race, Immigration and Citizenship in the Americas that studies racialized preferences in the immigration and nationality laws of 22 countries in the Americas since 1790 (NSF, Division of Social and Economic Sciences, Grant # SES-0819571). Ten Grinnell students have worked with David in completing research on this project. A related book manuscript entitled Culling the Masses: The Democratic Roots of Racist Immigration Policy in the Americas (with David FitzGerald, UCSD) was recently published by Harvard University Press.

David’s next project explores a global resurgence of temporary migration statuses similar to the braceros and guest workers of yesteryear. Canada has become the contemporary exemplar of temporary migration management. Recent debates about changes in its temporary migration program and its nationality policy suggest a shift in both policy domains: making entry temporary and citizenship more exclusive. Similar dynamics apply in the United States, Middle East, Asia, Australia, South Korea, Malaysia and Thailand. Historically problematic precedents like the Bracero and Gastarbeiter programs, however, raise questions about the return of policies that limit migrants’ stay in a host country, the relative and interactive roles of economic and ideological factors in explaining the comeback of temporary migration regimes, and what these systems portend for nationality and for people’s sense of citizenship.