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Researchers have explored economic and social aspects of migration. However, legal considerations in migrant decision making and sending communities have been largely ignored. This thesis focuses on perceptions of U.S. immigration laws in Santa Rosa, Michoacán—a small community in central Mexico. I show how migration from Santa Rosa to the United States has been historically constructed as necessary and ethical. I also reveal that people in Santa Rosa expect and are waiting for another amnesty for undocumented workers in the United States. I highlight the role of the Bracero Program (1942-1964) and the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act in the construction of these beliefs, as policies that encouraged and then rewarded illegal entry to the United States. I then suggest that U.S. immigration policy has established a social contract, complete with benefits and obligations, between the people of Santa Rosa and the U.S. state.

People

Kate Bass ‘11.5
Researcher

David Stoll
Professor of Anthropology & First ReaderMarcos Lopez
Post-Doctoral Fellow in Sociology & Second Reader

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A MiddLab Project

Detroit: The Past and Present of the American City

Learn more about Sociology & Anthropology and Undergraduate Research at Middlebury College.

Known as America’s “Arsenal of Democracy,” “Most Dangerous City,” and more recently, “Laboratory for Saving the American City,” Detroit, Michigan has functioned as a model city and symbol in American popular culture since the early 20th century. This research explores the significance of Detroit’s role as a representative city through a content analysis of national news publications and other channels of media in the last century. Relying on theories of the narrative construction of social events and actors in public discourse, this case demonstrates the evolving signification of Detroit in American culture. The emergent narrative of Detroit as a model for reimagining the American city in the 21st century relies on previous labeling of Detroit as a symbol of American ascendency and decline. The story of Detroit as a laboratory for reforming America’s cities demonstrates a reclamation of Detroit as a positive American symbol and a reinvigoration of the discourse of civil society through the democratic production of knowledge about the city. Detroit offers American society a new framework through which to think of shrinkage, community, and identity rooted in place.

People

Julianna Tschirhart
Researcher

Laurie Essig
Sponsor & Assistant Professor of Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies

Detroit is America’s 2nd most segregated city with a 77% black population and 84% white suburbs.

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A MiddLab Project

Restorative Justice at Middlebury College

Learn more about Philosophy, Biology, Sociology & Anthropology and Justice at Middlebury College.

According to Howard Zehr (2002), “Restorative justice is a process to involve, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in a specific offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs, and obligations, in order to heal and put things as right as possible.” We propose various methods of incorporating restorative practices into the Middlebury College judicial system.

People

Ben Manger ’11, Philosophy
Dana Callahan ’13, Biology
Matthew George ‘12.5, Biology
Clayton Paschke ’13, Sociology
Researchers

Jon Kidde
Sponsor, Sociology & Anthropology

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