Faculty Profile

Helene Lee

Associate Professor of Sociology (2008)

Contact Information


Denny Hall Room 113


Helene Lee’s areas of interest are in immigration/migration, racial/ethnic identities, globalization and transnationalism. Her research focuses on return migration projects back to the ancestral homeland, motivated by the search for “home” and a sense of belonging by members of the diaspora, particularly within the Korean context. She is currently at work on a book manuscript, which explores how the economic, political and social lives of Korean Americans and Korean Chinese migrants are shaped by ideas of ethnic authenticity and hybridity in Seoul, South Korea.


  • B.A., Cornell University, 1997
  • M.A., University of California, Santa Barbara, 2003
  • Ph.D., 2009

2018-2019 Academic Year

Fall 2018

SOCI 110 Social Analysis
Selected topics in the empirical study of the ways in which people's character and life choices are affected by variations in the organization of their society and of the activities by which social arrangements varying in their adequacy to human needs are perpetuated or changed.

SOCI 400 Immigration, Race & Ethnicity
During the 2016 campaign, then-candidate and now President Trump proposed U.S. immigration policies that included “building a wall” and “banning all Muslims” from entry. How did “immigrants” shift from welcomed huddled masses to potential terrorists and rapists? This is at a time when immigrants and their children number roughly 81 million or about 26% of the U.S. total population. This means one in four are either foreign-born or a child in an immigrant family. Today’s immigrants no longer originate from Europe but hail from Latin America, Asia, the Caribbean. Considering these demographic changes, in this course we will explore the historical, cultural and social meanings attached to “immigrant” and “American” from a variety of different perspectives. In so doing, we will pay attention to how ideas of nationality and citizenship shaped by the political, economic and social factors both within and outside of nation-state borders. How do these shifting demographics impact ideologies of race, ethnicity and nationality and what it means to be a citizen in the contemporary context? The objective of this course is to engage with the theoretical debates on immigration and processes of incorporation and assimilation to gain a better understanding of its impact on the everyday realities of growing numbers of immigrants.

Spring 2019

SOCI 233 Asian American Communities
This class is designed to move from theoretical understandings of “race,” and racial identity as it operates in our everyday lives to larger, structural determinants of race with special attention to the unique position of Asian Americans in U.S. race relations. This course focuses on social relations, political identities and activism, immigration and labor experiences to explore the ways Asian Americans have contributed to our larger histories as Americans. Broken down into three sections, this class analyzes the position of Asian Americans in the following interconnected contexts: (a) Asian Americans in relation to dominant society, (b) Asian Americans in relation to other communities of color, and (c) pan-Asian relations. Offered every year.

SOCI 237 Global Inequality
Exploring the relationship between globalization and inequality, this course examines the complex forces driving the integration of ideas, people, societies and economies worldwide. This inquiry into global disparities will consider the complexities of growth, poverty reduction, and the roles of international organizations. Among the global issues under scrutiny, will be environmental degradation; debt forgiveness; land distribution; sweatshops, labor practices and standards; slavery in the global economy; and the vulnerability of the world's children. Under specific investigation will be the social construction and processes of marginalization, disenfranchisement and the effects of globalization that have reinforced the division between the world's rich and poor. Offered every year.

SOCI 240 Qualitative Methods
Permission of Instructor Required.