Professional and Biographical Information


PhD,  Boston College, 2004
MSc,  London School of Economics and Political Science, 1996
BA,  University of New Hampshire, 1992

Teaching Interests

Drawing from Sociology, Anthropology, Critical Ethnic and Gender Studies, I teach about contemporary globalization, labor migration between the United States and Latin America, and the ways in which social inequalities influence the experiences of childhood and adolesence in the U.S. Inspired by the pedagogy of Paolo Freire, I structure my courses around discussions of power, and challenge students to explore how intersections of privilege and subordination shape life experiences and opportunities. This means that while we study theories of globalization, inequality and migration, and engage with empirical research, we also explore how these sociological phenomena relate to our own lives. My current teaching menu includes two introductory classes, the first- Latino Migration and the second- Unequal Childhoods, and four advanced seminars - Globalization, Inequality and Social Change; Gender, Power and Migration; Immigration and the New Second Generation and Meanings of Mobility; Latino Youth and the American Dream. I have also co-taught the Active Citizenship seminar in American Studies. 

Research Interests

I am an ethnographer interested in how contemporary global Capitalism affects the movement of people across international borders as well as within nation-states. I am especially interested in how the institution of the family influences and is influenced by immigration.

My first book, Striving and Surviving: A Daily Life Analysis of Honduran Transnational Families (Routledge 2005) and related articles focus on the gender dynamics of Honduran transnational families, those divided between their home and host countries. This research contributes scholarly analyses of transnational survival strategies, in which poor families divide their productive (wage) and reproductive (care) labor across borders, and how these strategies can reproduce or intensify gender and generational inequalities. This research also explores how social constructions of motherhood and fatherhood influence the experiences of those living within transnational families. I also enjoyed writing methodological pieces related to the community-based and action-oriented methods I employed in this project.

My second book, The Last Best Place? Gender, Family and Migration in the New West (Stanford University Press 2014) explores the intersections of gender, migration and rurality in Montana, a new immigrant destination in the American West. Utilizing a feminist ethnographic approach, my research centers on the narratives and experiences of migrant men, women and children, the majority of whom are undocumented. In the book, I analyze social constructions of masculinity and femininity, and how they are influenced by intersections of rurality, legal status and economy. In addition, I investigate how physical and cultural geography impact gender and family relations. 

My third book (with Cecilia Menjivar and Leisy Abrego), Immigrant Families (Polity 2016), draws from ethnographic, demographic and historical data to analyze how key axes of inequality (race, class, gender, generation and legal status) influence how immigrant families fare in the United States. 

I am currently working on a life history project exploring the social mobility paths of low-income Latino youth in elite colleges and universities. I am especially interested in how gender, family and immigration shape youth's experiences of social mobility as well as their future aspirations. 

Selected Publications

Bickham Mendez, Jennifer and Leah Schmalzbauer (Eds). 2018. Special Issue: Latino Youth, Education and Social Transformation. Ethnicities,18.  

Abrego, Leisy and Leah Schmalzbauer. 2018. Illegality, Motherhood and Place. Women's Studies International Forum, 67: 10-17.

Garcia, Angela and Leah Schmalzbauer. 2017. Placing Assimilation Theory: Mexican Immigrants in Urban and Rural America. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 672: 64-82.

Menjivar, Cecilia, Leisy Abrego and Leah Schmalzbauer. 2016. Immigrant Families. (Immigration and Society Series). Polity.

Schmalzbauer, Leah. 2015. Temporary and Transnational: Gender and Emotion in the Lives of Mexican Guestworker Fathers. Ethnic and Racial Studies 38: 211-26.

Schmalzbauer, Leah. 2014. The Last Best Place? Gender, Family and Migration in the New West. Stanford University Press.

Dreby, Joanna & Leah Schmalzbauer. 2013. The Relational Contexts of Migration: Mexican Women in New Destination Sites. Sociological Forum 28:1-26.

Letiecq, Bethany & Leah Schmalzbauer. 2012. Community Based Participatory Research with Mexican Migrants in a New Rural Destination: A Good Fit? Action Research 10: 244-59.

Carling, Jørgen, Cecilia Menjívar & Leah Schmalzbauer (Eds). 2012. Special Issue: Transnational Parenting and Children Left Behind. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 38.

Carling, Jørgen, Cecilia Menjívar, & Leah Schmalzbauer. 2012. Central Themes in the Study of Transnational Parenthood. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 38: 191-217. 

Schmalzbauer, Leah. 2011. “Doing Gender,” Ensuring Survival: Mexican Migration and Economic Crisis in the Rural Mountain West. Rural Sociology 76: 441-60.

Schmalzbauer, Leah. 2010. Disruptions, Dislocations, and Inequalities: Latino Families Surviving the Global Economy. North Carolina Law Review 88: 1857-80.

Schmalzbauer, Leah. 2009. Gender on a New Frontier: Mexican Migration in the Rural Mountain West. Gender & Society 23: 747-67.

Schmalzbauer, Leah. 2008. Family Divided: The Class Formation of Honduran Transnational Families. Global Networks 8: 329-46.

Anastario, Michael & Leah Schmalzbauer. 2008. Piloting the Time Diary Method among Honduran Immigrants: Gendered Time Use. Journal of Immigrant & Minority Health 10: 437-43.

Dodson, Lisa, Deborah Piatelli & Leah Schmalzbauer. 2007. Researching Inequality through Interpretive Collaborations: Shifting Power and the Unspoken Contract. Qualitative Inquiry 13: 821-43.

Schmalzbauer, Leah. 2005. Striving and Surviving: A Daily Life Analysis of Honduran Transnational Families. (New Approaches in Sociology Series). Routledge.

Dodson, Lisa & Leah Schmalzbauer. 2005. Poor Mothers and Habits of Hiding: Participatory Methods in Family Research. Journal of Marriage and Family 67: 949-59.

Schmalzbauer, Leah. 2005. Transamerican Dreamers: The Relationship of HonduranTransmigrants to the American Dream and Consumer Society. Berkeley Journal of Sociology 49: 3-31.

Schmalzbauer, Leah. 2004. Searching for Wages and Mothering from Afar: The Case of Honduran Transnational Families. Journal of Marriage and Family 66: 1317-31.

Awards and Honors

Faculty Speaker, Amherst College Senior Assembly, 2017

Rural Sociology Best Paper Award, 2012

President’s Excellence in Teaching Award: Montana State University, 2012

Phi Kappa Phi Distinguished Teaching Award: Montana State University, 2012

Betty Coffey Award: Research and Teaching in Gender Studies: Montana State University, 2011

American Sociological Association Community Action Research Initiative Fellowship, 2008

NSF/ American Sociological Association Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline, 2007

Sussman Award for Best Publication: Groves Conference on Marriage and Family, 2006

Professional Activities                                       

Executive Committee, Eastern Sociological Society, 2015-2018

Editorial Board, Rural Sociology, 2014-2017

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