MCLA Honors Program to Host Professor Kevin Escudero

NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) will welcome Kevin Escudero, Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnic Studies and an affiliated faculty member in the Sociology Department at Brown University, to campus at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 23 in Murdock Hall, Room 218. This is the second lecture in a series presented by the College’s Honors Program and is free and open to the public.

In his lecture, “Organizing While Undocumented,” Escudero will share his knowledge of undocumented immigrant youth's use of an intersectional movement identity in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York City. A Q&A session will follow the lecture.

Professor Escudero's research focuses on the areas of immigration and refugee studies; comparative racial and ethnic studies; social movements; law and society; and critical human geography. His book manuscript, “Organizing While Undocumented,” is currently under contract with NYU Press and examines undocumented Asian, Latinx, queer, and formerly undocumented activists' strategic use of an intersectional movement identity. His book draws on more than five years of ethnographic fieldwork and in-depth interviews.

Escudero's second book project considers the role of geography and space on undocumented immigrant and refugee community collaborative organizing. He also is interested in solidarity efforts between indigenous communities and migrant activists in the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borderlands.

As a Public Voices Fellow at the OpEd Project, Escudero has published pieces in Latino USA, The Hechinger Report, and Truthout, applying his academic research to current issues facing the immigrant community. From 2016-2017, he served as Special Advisor to the Provost for Undocumented and DACA Students, offering campus-wide workshops and trainings regarding approaches to supporting undocumented students. His work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, UC-MEXUS Institute, and the American Sociological Association.

“We were interested in inviting someone whose work reflects the principles of the Honors Program, and whose scholarship works across disciplines,” said Dr. Zack Finch, MCLA associate professor of English/communications and director of the college’s Honors Program. “One of the most vibrant fields of studies these days is American Studies, including American Ethnic Studies,” he said. He also noted that the College has a brand-new minor in American Ethnic Studies, debuting this semester and led by Hannah Noel, who teaches in the Honors Program.

The students in the Honors Program voiced that Escudero’s scholarship in undocumented youth activist movements looked relevant to them. “MCLA is interested in inclusion, not just as a statistical buzzword, but as a meaningful practice,” said Finch. “How does this youth movement [Escudero] is tracing make a bid for inclusion in political processes that have been made to exclude them.” 

Finch also noted that the Honors Program is interested in showcasing the work of younger scholars whose work might connect with students who are contemplating what scholarship looks like, what is meaningful to them, and on what they might choose to focus in grad school.