Assistant Professor, Sociology


Ph.D. in Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles, June 2018
M.A. in Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles, June 2012
M.A. in Social Science, University of Chicago, June 2009
B.A. in English and Sociology, University of California, Berkeley, December 2004


Karina Chavarria’s research takes an interdisciplinary approach, incorporating approaches from Sociology, Education, Ethnic Studies, to examine the relationship between structured educational inequalities, particularly as they impact marginalized youth across race/ethnicity and immigration status, and youth’s agency in enacting transformative social change.

Dr. Chavarria’s dissertation unpacks the relationships between racialization, immigration status, and working-class position as these shape Latina/o undocumented and U.S. born students’ incorporation experiences and post-high school transitions. Over the course of a five-year ethnography at an LAUSD high school and 50 interviews with Latina/o students, she documented how immigration status, working-class position, and racialized identities shaped students’ school experiences. Latina/o students, irrespective of immigration status, experience an exclusionary incorporation in school because the racial dynamics within K-12 educational institutions continue to limit their opportunities to fully benefit from all dimensions of their education.

Karina’s teaching philosophy reflects efforts to address the challenges of what it means to work with disenfranchised communities instead of for these communities. She looks forward to collaborating with students in bringing her research into the classroom, with the goals of developing students’ critical thinking, analytical and writing kills as well as fostering students’ active engagement in addressing inequality in society.

Karina’s next research project focuses on indigenous cultural traditions of immigrant groups and their children. Particularly, amongst indigenous communities who have settled across Ventura county. This project will employ youth participatory action research, family life histories, and student interviews to examine how traditional indigenous cultural celebrations and youth’s participation shape their sense of self and how these cultural practices can engender resilient and protective identity traits that carry the potential to counteract the hostile and exclusionary messages in anti-immigrant discourse and policy. She plans to join with students and local advocacy organizations to bridge community and policy makers in developing action plans that reflect holistic assessments of communities’ needs.

Karina currently lives in Los Angeles. She enjoys camping in the Santa Cruz Redwoods, hiking across the Santa Monica mountains, and reading novels and short stories from across the globe. She looks forward to starting at CI this August and collaborating with faculty, students, and the surrounding communities.

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