Academic Profile

People Feature

Molly Fee

Postdoctoral Prize Research Fellow in Sociology

I study how organizational structure and policies shape the migration and incorporation of refugees in the United States and how refugees interact with the institutions that grant rights and resources. My research interests include social and economic inequality, international migration, forced migration, organizations, the welfare state, and qualitative methods. I received my PhD in Sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

My book project explores how refugee resettlement is itself a form of displacement for newly arrived refugees. Rather than framing resettlement as a solution that marks the end of a refugee's challenges, I demonstrate how the displacement of forced migration extends through the initial resettlement phase as refugees contend with housing, family and parenting, employment, and identity. I show how humanitarian programs are not purely benevolent and can create new conditions of uncertainty and vulnerability. In reality, resettlement marks another uprooting and readjustment for refugees who may have already rebuilt their lives numerous times.

Based on over 1,000 hours of ethnographic fieldwork at a refugee resettlement agency in San Diego, California and Boise, Idaho and 102 interviews with refugees and service providers, I reconceptualize early resettlement as a time of disorientation and dislocation rather than one of settlement and integration. The manuscript progresses through the stages of a refugee’s resettlement and examines how displacement permeates multiple domains of refugees’ lives as they settle in a new country, addressing issues of geography, displacement, economic incorporation, trust, and identity.

Publications

Fee, Molly. 2022. "Lives Stalled: The Costs of Waiting for Refugee Resettlement." Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 48(11): 2659-2677.

Fee, Molly and Rawan Arar. 2019. “What happens when the United States stops taking in refugees?” Contexts 18(2):18-23.

Fee, Molly. 2019. “Paper integration: The structural constraints and consequences of the U.S. refugee resettlement program.” Migration Studies 7(4):477-495.

Fee, Molly. 2017. “Pre-resettlement Experiences: Iranians in Vienna.” Forced Migration Review 54:23-24.