“Putting Stories to Work: Confronting the Pandemic Through New Jersey Narratives”

“Putting Stories to Work” is a multidisciplinary collaboration of ten faculty from Rutgers’ three campuses pursuing research on the impacts of COVID-19 on marginalized communities in New Jersey–one of the early epicenters of the global pandemic. The mounting U.S. state violence--both in law enforcement practices and through public health mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic -- has highlighted and exacerbated social disparities across the country. We focus on stories of individuals and communities from disproportionately impacted groups--including racial/ethnic minorities, immigrants, the elderly and disabled, and working-class families--whose experiences of social inequality, structural racism, structural violence, and environmental injustices shape health and illness outcomes. Our team is part of the Rutgers-wide Society and Pandemic Working Group and includes faculty with expertise in anthropology, sociology, immigration, race, law, and health/medicine. We work with Rutgers students and research assistants to form a robust repository of stories that can be put to work as base material for policy briefs, media pieces, and other public genres. Through the collection and publicizing of stories and findings, we aim to generate community action and undergird advocacy, paying particular attention to members of the Gen-Z generation, including our Rutgers students and their communities. Working through channels of public and professional communication, the project seeks broader impact on policy and public opinion through highlighting and illuminating stories of more vulnerable populations living through the pandemic.

Research Team:

  • Ulla D. Berg, Anthropology & Latino and Caribbean Studies; Director, Center for Latin American Studies, N.B.: migration and (im)mobility, detention and deportation, Latin America and US-Latino communities.
  • Cati Coe, Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice, Camden: elder care, care workers, aging, transnational families and parenting, African Studies
  • Joanne Gottesman, Director, Immigrant Justice Clinic, Rutgers Law, Camden; immigration law, intersection of immigration with child welfare & criminal justice systems; client counseling
  • Catherine Lee, Sociology, N.B.: immigration, race and ethnicity, science and medicine, law and society
  • Randi Mandelbaum, Director, Child Advocacy Clinic, Rutgers Law, Newark: immigration and child welfare law and policy, client interviewing, legal representation of undocumented immigrant children and youth.
  • Domingo Morel, Political Science, Global Urban Studies, Newark: race and ethnic politics, urban politics, education politics, and public policy.
  • Bridget Purcell, Anthropology N.B.: Turkey, Middle East, critical urban studies, political ecology, medical anthropology, applied health services research
  • Tim Raphael, Arts, Culture and Media; Director Center for Migration and the Global City; Co-DirectorNewest Americans, Newark: multimedia, cultural studies, digital storytelling, public history
  • Louisa Schein, Anthro & WGSS, N.B.: Asian American Studies, Chinese Studies, Media and Cultural Studies, critical race and ethnic studies, immigrants and health, cultural competency
  • Sarah Tosh, Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice, Camden: immigration policy and deportation, detention and incarceration, inequality in immigration and criminal justice