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Miranda Hallett

Associate Professor, Director of Human Rights Studies Program

Full-Time Faculty

College of Arts and Sciences: Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work


Email: Miranda Hallett
Phone: 937-229-2430


  • Ph.D., Sociocultural Anthropology (with concentrations in Latino Studies, Latin American Studies and Development Sociology), Cornell University, 2009


Dr. Miranda Cady Hallett, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology and Human Rights Center Research Fellow, is a legal anthropologist who has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in El Salvador since 1998 and with Salvadoran immigrant communities in the US since 2004. Her interests, training and expertise lie at the intersection of Latin American studies (with a particular focus on El Salvador and the Central American region), migration studies and border theory, law and society, labor studies, research on Latinx identities and the history and anthropology of state violence.

Her dissertation (Cornell University, 2009) examined Salvadoran migrants’ subjectivities and neoliberal ideologies in a small poultry industry town in central Arkansas. Her recent work focuses on mass detention and deportation as components of the regime of mass incarceration in the contemporary United States, exploring how these systems uphold broader mechanisms of labor exploitation and intersectional oppression. She has published on immigration and immigrants’ rights in numerous peer-reviewed journals, including Latino Studies and Law and Social Inquiry.

Dr. Hallett teaches courses in sex and gender, immigration, sustainability and place-based justice, and the anthropology of human rights. Her courses are center on provocation, dialogue, and experiential learning, requiring student participation and engagement. She is also an engaged public anthropologist with a commitment to human rights and social justice movements and works to incorporate opportunities for community-based learning and social action into her courses.

Research interests

Dr. Hallett regularly publishes public scholarship and commentary regarding various themes including:

  • myths and facts about immigrants, particularly undocumented immigrants from Latin America, and their impacts on the economy, the tax base, and crime rates
  • the push-pull factors that drive global migration streams (for structural analysis, I can talk broadly and generally, and I can give much more detail when it comes to the US-Mexico-Central America)
  • contemporary conditions of violence in Central America that are fostering an increase in asylum seekers from that region, as well as the historical and current patterns of US military intervention in Latin America and its relationship to migration patterns
  • Central American youth gangs, in particular the MS-13, and the policies that are enacted to control their activities and movement both in El Salvador and in the U.S.
  • analysis of the use of anti-immigrant alarmist rhetoric and stereotypes by politicians in the context of electoral campaigns, and the shifting dynamics of this in recent years, particularly sensationalism around MS-13 and other youth gangs
  • the history and cultural context of the anti-immigrant movement that has emerged in the last 20-25 years (and its impact on current politics) with particular attention to the dynamics of white nationalist political mobilization and the role of white identity politics
  • the legal differences between various forms of immigration status, and the broad history of laws covering immigrants, temporary workers, refugees and asylum seekers
  • the history and roots of the "sanctuary movement" in which local institutions stand up for immigrants' rights, as well as its current revival as part of the immigrants’ rights movement today

See recent media discussions >

Selected publications

“Labor, Discipline, and Resistance: transnational migrant workers ‘on the line.’” 2017. Journal of Working Class Studies 2 (1): pp. 24-42.

“Temporary Protection, Enduring Contradiction: the contested and contradictory meanings of temporary immigration status.” 2014. Law & Social Inquiry, 39: 621–642

“Deferred Deportation, Community Transformation: dynamics of place-identification and legal exclusion in rural Arkansas.” 2013. In Latin American Migrations to the U.S. Heartland. Linda Allegro and Andrew Grant Wood, editors. University of Illinois Press

“Better than White Trash: race, class, and moral capital in the new Latino South” In Latino Studies Vol. X Issues 1-2. Spring/Summer 2012.

“Diasporic Suffrage: voting rights in the Salvadoran trans-nation.” Co-written with Beth Baker-Cristales. In Urban Anthropology, Vol. 39, Nos. 1-2. Spring and Summer 2010.