Deanna Barenboim is a sociocultural anthropologist and visiting faculty member in the Department of Anthropology at Sarah Lawrence College, where she has taught since 2009. She served as the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Native American Studies at the Center for the Americas, Wesleyan University, in 2017-2018. 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 served 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. She currently serves as a member of the steering committee for the Anthropologists Action Network for Immigrants and Refugees.Barenboim previously held positions in the fields of social services, mental health, and public health. She currently serves as a consultant to local grassroots immigrant rights organizations in the greater New York area, and as a freelance editor in the social sciences and humanities. Barenboim also serves as an expert witness in asylum and deportation hearings in the U.S., with special expertise in cases involving Indigenous migrants from Mexico/Central America.
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.