IRRPP provides funding to UIC faculty members who conduct engaged and policy-relevant research on race and ethnicity. Faculty Fellows are awarded course releases or a grant that covers research costs. And Policy and Social Engagement Fellows work with Chicagoland partners on a community action project. We invite you to learn more about our funding programs.
This project is a comparative study of walled enclosures in South Africa and Palestine/Israel that builds
on ten years of ethnographic, qualitative, and photographic research in Johannesburg and Jerusalem. The
urban landscapes of Johannesburg and Jerusalem are increasingly defined by extreme forms of enclosure.
South African elites surround their homes with brick walls and electric fences, put gates around their
neighborhoods, and hire private security companies for protection. Meanwhile, the State of Israel is
building a series of walls and fences around Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
What explains the simultaneous construction of these walled enclosures? And what do they teach us about
inequality and insecurity in an era of neoliberal globalization? My research answers these questions
through an analysis of political and economic restructuring, the production of marginalized populations,
and the politics of security.
This project examines how communities’ understandings of illness impact their health ideologies and
behavior. It contributes to current sociological research which explores how laypeople get involved in and
change the course of scientific research and policy. Somali refugee populations suffer from high rates of
autism, which is referred to by Somali parents as the ‘Western disease’ because they believe autism does
not exist in Somalia. This project examines the ways that groups of Somali parents of children with
autism in two national contexts (Minneapolis, MN and Toronto, Canada) have forged epistemic
movements to understand and address their children’s health experiences. Unlike most analyses of autism,
I explore this topic from a global perspective and ask about the relevance of race, class, and nationality to
peoples’ experiences with and explanations of disability. Racial minorities have been underrepresented in
the research on autism, and this project seeks to address this bias.
The purpose of this project is to: 1) gain a better understanding of how societal and family level supports
and challenges influence African American fathering; 2) inform the adaptation/development of father-
focused prevention interventions; and 3) inform family policy decisions designed to support positive
father involvement. Data used to accomplish these goals are from The Voices ‘n Visions study which is a
qualitative study focused on African American fathers’ parenting and visions for prevention interventions.
Fathers were recruited from a small Mid-Atlantic city and its surrounding areas based on their sons’ risk
for developing depressive symptoms and/or aggressive behaviors. Interviews were primarily
conversational with follow up probes based on interview guide topics that were developed a priori. The
proposed project is relevant to the public debate regarding the role of fathers in families which began with
the Fatherhood Research Initiative and remains relevant to the Healthy Marriage Initiative.
In recent years, refugee admission trends have dramatically shifted, reflecting more than half (54%) of all
incoming refugees into the USA are now ethnic minority men. However, few research studies have been
conducted to understand ethnic minority refugee men’s health needs and well being beyond their initial
six-month integration period. The Chicago Taskforce for Refugee and Immigrant Health is in need of
understanding ethnic minority refugee men lived experiences, in order to develop health interventions and
policies. This proposed Refugee Men’s Health Initiative will explore the pathways by which social
exclusion factors among ethnic minority refugee men in Chicago make them an underserved and
vulnerable population. The findings will fill a major health disparities research gap, augment current
refugee health policies, and justify a need to conduct a longitudinal health study focused on this growing
This research project examines the working conditions and contemporary labor struggles within New
Orleans’s resurgent, post-Katrina tourism-entertainment complex, and contributes to a longer, critical
monograph on the reconstruction of the city titled The City that Care Forgot: New Orleans and American
Urbanism. This research project will engage contemporary debates around living wage policy (i.e. the
“Fight for 15” campaign and efforts to raise the minimum wage) in New Orleans and beyond, especially
since so many post-industrial cities increasingly rely on an expanding tourism and service-based economy
for job creation.
This study asks how contemporary South Asian, Muslim, and Arab American activists and cultural
producers have grappled with questions crucial to US national security—including the military’s use of
torture, unlawful detention, targeted killings with drones, CIA kidnapping and rendition, and biometric
surveillance. At once an examination of the influence of US national security culture (and its permanent
wars) on contemporary art and activism, this book project simultaneously examines the struggles over
racial and national citizenship for South Asian, Muslim, and Arab American communities before and after
the “global war on terror.” Building on and contributing to scholarly frameworks in critical race,
postcolonial, queer, feminist, and visual studies, the project analyzes the afterlife of the PATRIOT Act
through the transnational networks of knowledge and affiliation forged by these diverse cultural
producers. It further argues that these creative and political projects offer an alternative form of
knowledge—a resource for policy, activism, and social transformation.
Addressing racial/ethnic disparities in healthcare access is a major thrust of US healthcare policy. There is
limited research on this topic with respect to racial/ethnic disparities in healthcare access and utilization
for children with special healthcare needs (CSHCN). Optimal care for these children hinges on
coordination of care across multiple and fragmented service systems, a responsibility that falls entirely on
parent caregivers. Despite their central role in managing their children’s needs, parents receive little
preparation or guidance. Low-income African American and Latino parents are especially disadvantaged
due to educational and language barriers. There is a critical need for accessible and effective interventions
that “activate” these parents to increase their knowledge, skills and confidence in managing, coordinating,
and advocating for their child’s healthcare needs. This study proposes to conduct foundational research on
this topic with 50 African American and Latino parents of Medicaid-eligible CSHCN using qualitative
focus groups and surveys on ownership, access, and utilization of information technology.
This project will conduct exploratory research concerning risk and protective factors for violence,
stalking, and suicide relating to the ending of adolescents’ romantic relationships. Through an online
survey we will learn more about risk and protective factors during the ending of adolescents’ romantic
relationships and use this data to develop educational interventions to teach teens healthy ways to end
romantic relationships, as well as healthy coping mechanisms. This exploratory research will help to
identify key concepts, risk factors, and protective factors. This information will aid us in developing
mixed-methods surveys (blending qualitative and quantitative methods) in order to learn more about the
scope of risk factors, protective factors, violence, and stalking surrounding teen breakups. Data will be
analyzed with special attention to gender identity, age, race, and sexual orientation so that culturally
relevant interventions can be developed.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or “LINK” in Illinois) provides low-income
households with a financial benefit to obtain food. 37.9% of SNAP participants are Black or Hispanic.
However, many neighborhoods where Blacks and Hispanics live have poor access to healthy foods, such
as fruits and vegetables. Farmers markets are a promising strategy to increase fruit and vegetable access,
and policies that incentivize SNAP benefits spending at farmers markets may improve SNAP participants’
access to them and ultimately fruits and vegetables. Using a quasi-experimental design,
Aim 1 of this study will determine the impact of LINK Up Illinois, a program that doubles the value of
LINK/SNAP benefits redeemed at farmers markets, on SNAP/LINK fruit and vegetable sales in Chicago
farmers markets overall and by neighborhood racial/ethnic composition. Using a cross-sectional design,
Aim 2 will determine whether fruit and vegetable selection and prices at farmers markets vary by
neighborhood racial/ethnic composition and LINK Up Illinois acceptance status.
This project is for the UIC Women’s Leadership and Resource Center / Campus Advocacy Network and
Love and Protect to develop and host a one-day convening in Chicago of statewide domestic violence and
sexual assault organizations and service providers to address and challenge the concepts of recognizable
victims, perfect victims, and perceived perpetrators and the role those concepts play in the criminalization
and isolation of violence survivors. Participants, organizers, and grassroots organizations will explore
what services are necessary to support those who have been criminalized for self-defense. The
conversations and methods generated in the convening will be compiled to create a toolkit that will bridge
the gap between grassroots organizers / defense committees and national organizations so that those
groups can work in partnership in support of “imperfect victims” criminalized for defending themselves.
The toolkit will also provide foundational language that moves beyond problematic “ideal victim” narratives.
This project would build on the momentum of local organizing lead by BYP100, Black Lives Matter,
We Charge Genocide, Chicago Free Marissa Campaign, COV4 and The Chicago Torture Justice Memorial Project
by bringing UIC students who are interested in the nexus between activism and queer criminology
into conversation. The goals would be twofold: 1) to build the presence of these organizing efforts together
on campus whereby students can get involved in the work going on in Chicago linking it to feminist
principles and 2) to use this particular political moment to create an academic focus in Criminology,
Law and Justice that supports and encouraged the study of critical and queer criminology and
its utility in policy debates that the groups are engaged in. The activities would include a youth led
feminist conference on campus and a graduate concentration.
The Chinese American Service League (CASL) is the largest, most comprehensive social service agency
in the Midwest dedicated to serving the needs of Chinese Americans. CASL provides vital in-home
services for older adults that enable them to live independently in their own homes and communities. This
project will update CASL’s client satisfaction survey by: 1) developing a psychometrically sound client
satisfaction measure (in both English and Chinese) that is client-centered and can offer concrete feedback
for service improvement for in-home services; 2) utilize concrete client satisfaction feedback data to make
service improvement recommendations; and 3) disseminate annual client satisfaction survey results and
service improvement recommendations to home care aids and clients of CASL’s in-home services so
home care aids are informed of client feedback. Through this project, CASL will obtain necessary tools
and knowledge to use a client-centered approach to monitor and evaluate its performance in the future.
The Arab Women’s Committee (AWC), a subcommittee of the Arab American Action Network/AAAN),
provides services in Chicago to a base of 600 immigrant and refugee women who are recent arrivals to the
United States from Arabic speaking countries—especially countries facing intensive military conflicts
such as Iraq, Palestine, Syria, and Yemen. In spring of 2015, the AWC will face a major transition. Their
director for the past ten years, Rasmea Odeh, will be transitioning from her position. This project will
collaborate with the AWC in order to transition into a new period at the same level of success and growth.
Specifically, this project will produce a community-based publication, entitled “Vibrant Organizing:
Strategies for the AWC,” that will allow AWC to institutionalize Rasmea Odeh’s skills in directing,
managing, programming, and mobilizing constituents. This project will also produce a study, entitled
“Vibrant Organizing: Resources and Support,” that will allow AWC and AAAN to determine the funding
and resources needed to maintain the AWC at the same level of success. This project will organize a year
of programming entitled “Steadfast Communities!” that will allow AWC to remain lively, welcoming,
beneficial, and exciting to its constituents during the period of transition.
This intergenerational project is a planning effort between university-based and community-based
partners to convene a national conference at UIC entitled “Selma to Ferguson” involving scholars, artists,
activists and high school teachers to be held in September 2015. The purpose is to challenge historical
memory about the struggles of 1965 and extract lessons and insights for contemporary social change
agents working on issues of police accountability, restorative justice, economic justice, civic engagement,
and education. This project will include a website and social media project designed to facilitate lively
pre-conference interactions in order to maximize the work attendees can do once they are in the same
space in the fall.
The Honey Bun Comedy Hour (HBCH) is a media and advocacy project written by currently and formerly
incarcerated people, their family members, advocates, and prison monitors to re-enact real and imagined
scenes from the Illinois criminal justice system. It will depict the horror, boredom, and small mercies of
prison life. Each short video will highlight some minor catastrophe of thought, action, or policy that
together illustrate an abysmal decade of criminal justice policies. The project represents a new stage in
organizing by and with family members of long-term prisoners, and will advance the policy goals of
Tamms Year Ten and other advocacy groups in changing prison policies as well as launching a systemic
critique. HBCH media will be used in targeted advocacy campaigns as well as artistic and cultural
contexts, and will give family members, decision-makers, and the public the opportunity to reflect on
Illinois prison policies and change them.
This project will establish an interdisciplinary community initiative between African American Studies
and the Prison Neighborhood Arts Program to offer educational opportunities to people incarcerated at
Stateville Prison. Students and faculty will have the opportunity to facilitate discussions, provide guest
lectures and teach semester-long courses on subjects related to African American and Diasporic Studies,
feminist and queer studies, social movement history and other topics of interest to students at Stateville
enrolled in PNAP. The project will include a bi-weekly seminar held on the outside to reflect on the work
inside and to develop strategies for policy reform related to mass criminalization, expanding educational
access, and social justice organizing on behalf of people incarcerated in Illinois.
This project will conduct a qualitative study to understand the experiences of Black and Latin@ parents
and guardians of students receiving special education who attend or wish to attend a charter school. The
results of this study will be published in a report and will include recommendations for advocacy and
policy efforts aimed at improving the learning opportunities of Black and Latin@ students with Individual
Educational Plans. This report will give EFE, other advocacy organizations, and policy leaders insights
about how parents learn about, choose, and enroll their children in charter schools as well as the issues
they experience once receiving special education services in charter schools. These insights will be used
by EFE to target and improve its advocacy efforts, tools and supports for Black and Latin@ families of
students in special education. The study will amplify individual parent voices and concerns by bringing
their collective stories together to ignite policy responses. The report will bring further public awareness
and support to EFE’s current efforts to improve special education in charter schools.