• Comparative Diaspora Studies Group

    The Comparative Diaspora Studies Group

    Global Mobility and Human Diversity across Disciplines and Beyond

About the Comparative Diaspora Studies Group (CDSG)

In response to geopolitical, economic, or environmental pressures, many ethnic groups have dispersed from their original homeland to multiple nation-states. The Comparative Diaspora Studies Group (CDSG) critically responds to the increasing need to understand the migratory dispersal and ethnic experiences of these communities that are scattered across national borders in different local and global contexts. The members of the CDSG focus on the ways in which diasporic people strive to maintain their transnational connections while managing their divergent ethnic and cultural identities, socioeconomic disparities, and political divisions within their communities in the newly resettled societies. By investigating the complexities of diasporized lives from a comparative perspective, the group aims to cross theoretical and disciplinary boundaries and expand its initiative across ASU and beyond.

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Our Members

Sangmi Lee Sangmi Lee received her D.Phil. in anthropology in 2016 from the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology (ISCA) at the University of Oxford, U.K. Prior to coming to School of Social and Behavioral Sciences as an assistant professor in Spring 2018, she was a lecturer at Seoul National University, South Korea. Her current research focuses on how Hmong living in the diaspora have maintained extensive kinship networks and various cultural and economic practices across national borders despite the uncertainty about the location of ancestral homeland while also experiencing ethnic cultural differences based on their "partial" affiliation with different nation-states of residence. For this project, she conducted comparative, long-term ethnographic fieldwork with the Hmong communities in central Laos and the United States (California).
Profile photo Dr. Tricia Redeker Hepner is a political and legal anthropologist with a regional focus on Northeast Africa and the Great Lakes Region of Eastern Africa, and thematic interests in migration and displacement, transnationalism, human rights, transitional justice, militarism, and conflict and peace. She has conducted research in the Horn of Africa and with refugees and asylum seekers from Eritrea/Ethiopia in North America, Europe, and Africa for over twenty years. This long-term work has informed her participation in hundreds of asylum and refugee cases, and her testimony has been influential in immigration rulings in the US, Canada, Europe, and Israel. In a separate project, she collaborates with forensic anthropologists and archaeologists to examine the meanings and material impacts of the missing and unidentified dead in post-war Northern Uganda’s post-war transitional justice process and to document improper burials in mass graves and former displacement camps. She has published four university-press books and more than twenty peer-reviewed journal articles or book chapters to date. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the Social Science Research Council, and the US Fulbright Scholars Program in Germany. Prior to joining ASU, she held positions in the Africana Studies Program and the Department of Anthropology at the University of Tennessee, where she co-founded and directed the Disasters, Displacement, and Human Rights (DDHR) Program. Since 2013 she has served in voluntary leadership roles in the American Anthropological Association and currently serves on the editorial board of the African Studies Review.
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Natasha Behl is associate professor in the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Arizona State University. Dr. Behl completed her doctorate in political science at University of California, Los Angeles, where her training focused on race, ethnicity, politics and comparative politics.

Dr. Behl explains why the promise of democratic equality remains unrealized, and identifies potential ways to create more egalitarian relations in liberal democracies and the discipline of political science. This intellectual endeavor has demanded that she cross disciplinary boundaries and challenge epistemological and methodological norms in political science to understand the gendered and raced nature of politics as a practice and political science as a discipline. She uses interpretive and feminist methods to examine what are often assumed to be neutral concepts, objective methodologies, and universal institutions, and demonstrate that these very concepts, methodologies, and institutions are gendered and raced such that they determine who enjoys democratic inclusion, who commands academic authority, and who is most vulnerable to violence. Her scholarship, teaching, and service seeks to make marginalized individuals central to the process of theorization, working to make societies and institutions, including the academy, more inclusive.

Dr. Behl’s book, Gendered Citizenship: Understanding Gendered Violence in Democratic India, is published with Oxford University Press. Her research is published or forthcoming in leading journals like PS: Political Science and Politics, Politics, Groups, and Identities, Feminist FormationsSpace & Polity, and Journal of Narrative Politics. In 2018, she was awarded the Outstanding Teaching Award at ASU where she teaches Global Feminisms, Feminist Action Research, Navigating Academia as a Raced and Gendered Space, Comparative Politics, Politics of India, and Everyday Forms of Political Resistance. She has also written for The Washington Post and Public Seminar and given a TEDx Talk.

Profile photo Nisa Göksel joins the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences as an assistant professor of sociology. She holds a doctorate in sociology, with a graduate certificate in gender and sexuality studies. Her areas of research are gender and sexuality; feminist and women’s movements in the Middle East; war, violence and peace-making; and migration, displacement and diaspora studies. Her work focuses on the transnational political mobilization of Kurdish women around peace, democracy and human rights.

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