Deanna Barenboim is a sociocultural anthropologist and faculty member in the Department of Anthropology at Sarah Lawrence College, since 2009. Her research explores the complexities of transnational migration, particularly between Latin America and the United States. Broadly, her scholarship asks how people’s movement across borders, and encounters with specific immigration policies and enforcement practices, produce emergent political subjectivities, experiential orientations, and forms of exclusion and belonging. Over the past decade, she has conducted ethnographic fieldwork situated in Mexico and the United States. Her first book project, Belonging Out of Place, builds upon transnational research with Maya migrants from Yucatán, Mexico who represent a “new wave” of Indigenous migration to the U.S. This work addresses migrants’ experiences of, and responses to, racial and legal exclusion, and argues that mobility and indigeneity must be conceptualized in tandem.
Barenboim is the recipient of Fulbright fellowships and research funding from the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Education, and the Edward Larocque Tinker Foundation. She has been a Visiting Scholar at the Institute of Latin American Studies at Columbia University and the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. She earned a Ph.D. (2013) in the interdisciplinary Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago, with a specialization in Cultural Anthropology. She speaks Spanish, French, Yucatec Maya, and English. And, on a good day, she understands conversational Hindi.
Barenboim envisions public engagement and efforts towards social justice as integral to her work. In conjunction with her research and teaching on transnational migration, she has developed an innovative service learning program that partners undergraduate students with a local day laborer center serving NY immigrant families. She also serves as Faculty Adviser to the first student-led immigration rights group at Sarah Lawrence College – SLC for Immigration Advocacy – now affiliated with the national student movement, United We DREAM, and is particularly proud of the efforts student leaders have made to improve access to higher education for undocumented students. In her work as a consultant, Barenboim has designed and implemented a Title IV FLAS Yucatec Maya language program and facilitated public outreach efforts between Latino/a policy research centers and local non-governmental organizations. Prior to her return to Anthropology, she held positions in the fields of social services and public health and enjoyed a foray into academic editing.
Barenboim’s academic interests are shaped by her personal experiences of life across national and cultural borders, and especially by her family’s close encounters with the challenges – and joys – of transnational migration.