Spring 2021 Office Hours:
- Or by appointment
Hansini Munasinghe is a PhD candidate in Sociology. Her research and teaching specializations are in social stratification, race and ethnicity, international migration, gender, political sociology, and methods. Drawing on both quantitative and qualitative approaches, her research aims to better understand how immigrants and their families navigate the social and political landscapes of their new home countries.
Her dissertation compiles two research projects: The first examines how restrictive visa policies impact immigrant families, focusing specifically on dependent spouse visas. These visas allow family members of select immigrants (most commonly, skilled workers and international students) to enter the US but restrict them from pursuing higher education and paid work. Using in-depth interviews, this study identifies strategies and meaning making processes these immigrants engage in given the restrictions and precarity they face. This project also elucidates how immigrants with precarious visa statuses are coping during the pandemic. A second project uses survey data from the Current Population Survey to examine how cross-nativity partnering –relationships between US- and foreign-born partners– shapes their political and civic participation. Overall, her research contributes to our understanding of inequalities faced by immigrants; how these inequalities intersect with race, gender, class and other dimensions of inequality; and how the impacts of social and political institutions reverberate within the intimacies of home and family.
Hansini earned her MA in Sociology from the University of Iowa. Her master’s thesis explored the role aspirations, parental expectations, and family social capital play in mediating immigrant children’s engagement in school. She has also completed a Graduate Certificate in College Teaching from Iowa’s College of Education. Before coming to Iowa, Hansini received her BS in Sociology at Iowa State University and the American College of Higher Education in Sri Lanka.
She was inspired to become a sociologist after working as a freelance journalist in Sri Lanka, where the diverse stories she encountered on the job inspired her to study society more closely. In her free time, Hansini enjoys cooking and baking, watching TV, and spending time outdoors.