In Focus: Daniel Malpica

Chicano and Latino Studies
2009 Excellence in Teaching Award Recipient

Graton Day Labor Center (workers and Board Members) receiving the 6th Connie Codding Humanist Award given by Listening for a Change. Place of photograph Michel-Schlumberger Wine Estate September 11, 2010.

What is your research focus? and, what is it about this particular research focus that inspires you?

My research is primarily concerned with the issues faced by minorities and immigrants in the United States. Overall, I work on three research areas, which are interrelated: 1) immigration and labor markets, 2) poverty and inequality, and 3) immigrant settlement patterns. Specifically, my work addresses how Latin American migrants are incorporated into the United States society. A basic assumption in migration studies is that the search for a better livelihood is the main cause for migratory movements. Nevertheless, such studies rarely take in-depth research into the world of work among migrants as a point of departure. This has motivated and inspired me to conduct research among Mexican migrants working in the United States. I explore in one of my main research projects how social networks and social capital influence the social and economic incorporation of indigenous Mexican migrants in the United States. In particular, I examine what kind of work indigenous Mexicans do, how they find work, and how they struggle to work in low-wage sectors of the economy, raise families, and move ahead.

My other main research project also highlights the relationship between Latin American migrants and U.S. labor markets. I examine the lives of undocumented Latin American migrants who openly sell their labor at street-corner, drive-by labor markets in cities throughout California. Based on fieldwork with day laborers I examine the dynamics surrounding the connection of workers to employers in this type of labor market.

How has the library helped you achieve your goals in this area?

The library and its staff are very important part of my research endeavors. Every time I start a research project I head towards the library. It is a place where I find existing literature, a place to consult the librarians on the topic of interest, and a place for inspiration. I use the main collection of books constantly for my research. It has new material that is pertinent for my research purposes. If I do not find a book in the library's collection, I take advantage of the very effective interlibrary loan program (interlibrary loan and Link +). I am always surprised of how fast these materials arrive and I have never had a request go astray. In addition, I use databases, online books, documentaries, and other tools. I am also in constant conversation with librarians. They are helpful, friendly, and extremely knowledgeable. I benefit tremendously from intellectual and professional guidance of staff members like Paula Hammett, Karen Brodsky, Joe Marquez, John Muller, and Jack Ritchie who make my work as a researcher much easier. This truly enables me to deliver newly acquired knowledge in a cohesive and effective form in all the classes that I teach.