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In my research program I use an interdisciplinary perspective, a multi-method approach, and the observation of multiple levels of analysis to explore the causes and conditions that produce emigration and the decision to migrate. In particular, in my research, I integrate the following areas:

A.            International Migration:

  1. The effects of social and political change in the individual’s decision to migrate.
  2. The migrants’ constructions of collective and social memory with regards to the country of origin and of destinations.
  3. The role of emigrants in the process of nation and state construction in Latin America; as well as the impacts of migration in development processes within both societies of origin and destination.
  4. Past and current migration policies and the states’ use of international migration as a component of their Foreign Policy.

B.            Latin American History:

  1. Political, social, cultural, and demographic changes in Latin America post 1930.
  2. The rise of authoritarian-bureaucratic regimes, political violence, exile and social and collective memory.
  3. Latin America-United States and Latin America-Europe relations during the 20th century.
  4. Historiography of the nation in Latin America
  5. Using cinema and fiction as sources for the study of Latin American history.

C.            Sociological Theory:

  1. Comparative-historical approaches to sociological theory.
  2. Micro-macro integration and agency-structure debates.

D.           Intersections between Sociology and History:

  1. Macro-historical Dynamics and globalization.
  2. The construction of collective and individual memory and of historical consciousness.
  3. The developing of mixed-methods approaches that can integrate history, sociology and the other social sciences.
  4. Nationalism and the construction of national/individual identities

E.            Population and development:

  1. The influence of population policies in foreign policy and international relations.
  2. The connection between population dynamics and historical change.
  3. Theory development in Population studies, in particular demographic transition theories.

I applied my research approach in my dissertation where I explored, described, and explained the process of international migration of Chilean migrants in the United States since the end of World War II. I used oral histories, secondary statistical data, and archival sources to examine the migration decision-making process under different historical periods and structural constraints. I also analyzed the memories these emigrants have of visiting Chile after leaving and how these memories, together with the conditions surrounding the decision to migrate, affects the construction of feelings of belonging to a nation and the type of relations that migrants want to have with their country of origin. Using a migration systems approach, I analyzed this migration within the historical relations between Chile and the US in the context of the Cold War and the post Cold War international system. I framed my analysis of the decision to migrate within the relationship between history and biography and the integration of micro (individual), meso (institutions and organizations) and macro (societies and world-systems) levels of analysis. I used the concept of memory, defined as a social construction created within all of these levels, as a coalescing argument for the relationships that migrants seek to maintain with the country of origin based on the remembrance of the country at the time of migration.

My research approach can be summarized in the diagram below: