Holmes to study inequalities and resiliency among Hispanic youth as William T. Grant Scholar

April 21, 2017

Seth Holmes with native Mexican immigrant families in Cesar Chavez Day march in Madera, California.  Seth Holmes, a UC Berkeley professor of public health and medical anthropology, has been named a 2017 William T. Grant Scholar by the William T. Grant Foundation. The program supports career development for promising early-career researchers. Holmes is one of three professors out of 50 applicants selected  for this program.

The William T. Grant Foundation Scholars program targets researchers whose early careers have been marked by quality and success. The Foundation focuses on improving the quality of research that informs the fight against inequality among youth. Holmes will receive $350,000 in funding over the next five years in support of his research initiative, “Unequally ‘Hispanic’: Inequalities and Resiliency among Indigenous ‘Hispanic’ Youth.”

Holmes will study the different forms of discrimination faced by children who migrate from Latin America to the United States. Holmes hopes to challenge the ways in which researchers and institutions utilize general ethnic categories, inadvertently subsuming multiple groups affected by different political, economic and social forces.

To do this, he will return to the cohort of migrant farmworkers from Oaxaca with whom he has collaborated through his work on previous projects, such as his critically acclaimed book, Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies.  In his new project, Holmes says that he will look for the “sources of strength and resilience” in their children, “especially in relation to wellbeing and academic success.”

At the core of the project will be regular interviews with 60 native Mexican high-school aged youth who live in the United States, while also involving their relatives, teachers, school nurses, migrant education specialists, and school administrators. Additionally, the project will include videographic life histories of the youth which the youth and their families will help direct. Holmes also plans to engage in ethnographic participant observation research, studying the children’s responses to discrimination in the moment and the environment when and where it is observed.

The results of these qualitative research methods —fieldwork, interviews, and videography—will be used in collaboration with native Mexican immigrant communities in the United States to make recommendations for education, social and health policy.

The William T. Grant Foundation invests in high-quality research focused on reducing inequality and improving the use of research evidence in decisions that affect young people in the United States. Seth Holmes stated, “It is an honor to join such an active and groundbreaking network of scholars working on issues related to inequalities among youth. I hope this research, done in collaboration with native Mexican immigrants and their families, will contribute to a more just and equal world that will more positively recognize and appreciate their contributions.”   

By Jaron Zanerhaft