Serin D. Houston

Assistant Professor of Geography and International Relations
Urban, Political, and Social Geography; Refugee and Migration Studies; Qualitative Methods

Serin D. Houston’s research draws on qualitative methods and a geographic perspective to examine questions of equity and justice from the individual to the global scale. Her book, Imagining Seattle: Social Values in Urban Governance (2019), uses Seattle as a lens to analyze the translation of sustainability, creativity, and social justice from theory into praxis. Studying not only what policies and programs say, but also how they work in practice, Houston finds that racism and classism, matched with market-driven mandates, constrain the realization of these social values within the urban governance of Seattle, Washington.

With research assistants from Mount Holyoke, Houston investigates sanctuary policies and social movements in the United States. This research has resulted in publications about sanctuary as a process rather than a place designation, the impacts of neoliberalism on sanctuary policies, and the framing of noncitizens as either extraordinary or ordinary in sanctuary social movements.

A more recent research project focuses on climate change and human migration. In collaboration with Kiana London, Houston considers the geopolitics of climate change and migration in the Pacific region and the meaning and modes of knowledge production in such spaces. Finally, Houston’s interest in pedagogy and high impact learning has led to collaborations with colleagues at Mount Holyoke and publications about global/local community engagement and scholarship.

At Mount Holyoke, Houston mentors independent studies and teaches the following courses: Cities in a Global Context; Climate Migration; Global Movements: Migrations, Refugees, and Diasporas; Research Methods; Sense of Place, Sense of Planet; and World Regional Geography.

Selected Publications and News Links

Serin Houston. (2019). Imagining Seattle: Social Values in Urban Governance. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press – Our Sustainable Future series.

Serin Houston. (2019). From the Desk of Serin D. Houston: Exploring a Storied Landscape. Guest blog post on Behind the Book at the University of Nebraska Press.

Serin Houston. (2019). Conceptualizing Sanctuary as a Process in the United States. Geographical Review.

David Hernández, Serin Houston, Avery Allen ‘20, and Sofia Rivera ‘18. (2018). Entrapped: Visiting Migrant Detainees in Western Massachusetts. Latino Studies 16, 250-258. 

Serin Houston and Kirk Lange. (2018). “Global/Local” Community Engagement: Advancing Integrative Learning and Situated Solidarity. Journal of Geography in Higher Education 42(1),44-60. 

Serin Houston and Charlotte Morse ‘15. (2017). The Ordinary and Extraordinary: Producing Migrant Inclusion and Exclusion in US Sanctuary Movements. Studies in Social Justice 11(1), 27-47. 

Serin Houston and Olivia Lawrence-Weilmann ‘17. (2016). The Model Migrant and Multiculturalism: Analyzing Neoliberal Logics in US Sanctuary Legislation, in Migration Policy and Practice: Interventions and Solutions. Bauder, H. and Matheis, C. (eds.). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan Press – Migration, Diasporas and Citizenship Series. 101-126.