Blair Sackett is a Postdoctoral Fellow in International and Public Affairs at Brown University. She completed her PhD in sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. In a period of rising forced migration, due to war and political upheaval as well as climate change, her research focuses on refugees and the institutional barriers and opportunities they face in accessing rights and resources. Her first book, "We Thought It Would Be Heaven: Refugees in an Unequal America" (University of California Press), co-authored with Annette Lareau, reveals how the very social service organizations meant to help resettled refugees can derail their progress in building a new life in the United States. Her second book project examines the economic strategies of refugee families facing long-term displacement in a refugee camp in Kenya. Her research has been supported by a Fulbright-Hays DDRA Fellowship and Swahili language training through U.S. Department of Education Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships.
Sackett’s research focus on refugees and the institutional barriers and opportunities they face in accessing rights and resources. The majority of the world’s refugees live in the Global South, and her current book project, Dreams Derailed, reveals how long-term displacement disrupts refugees’ economic livelihoods in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. Based on over 14 months of ethnographic observation, this book project book examines the strategies of refugee families and communities as they seek to rebuild, as well as the barriers they face.
She is also first author of a co-authored book (with Annette Lareau) We Thought It Would Be Heaven: Refugees in an Unequal America with the University of California Press. Fleeing war and violence, many refugees dream that moving to the United States will be like going to Heaven. Instead, they enter a deeply unequal American society, often at the bottom. Based on extensive ethnographic observations and interviews with Congolese refugee families and aid workers and volunteers, We Thought It Would Be Heaven examines the obstacles refugees face across an array of American institutions—from schools to welfare offices. Each institution presents hurdles that threaten to become barriers to refugees’ pathways to upward mobility.
Introduction to Sociology