Professorial Inaugural Lectures to address the lives of the marginalised and the experience of immigration

  • Date

    Tue 7 Feb 23

image of Sandya Hewamanne and Renee Luthra

The latest in the University of Essex’s Professorial Inaugural Lecture series takes place on Wednesday 15 February with two newly appointed professors discussing their world-leading research.


The event is open to the public and will be held at Essex Business School at 6.15 pm on Wednesday 15 February and will feature two leading academics from the Department of Sociology, who will share insights into their areas of research.

Professor Sandya Hewamanne is Director of the Centre for Global South Studies at the University of Essex. Her lecture will consider how marginalized individuals and communities negotiate everyday life.

Professor Renee Luthra is Director of the Centre for Migration Studies and her lecture will look at the lives of immigrants and their children.

A drinks reception in the Winter Garden will follow the two presentations.

Head of the Department of Sociology, Professor Pamela Cox said: “I am delighted that we are once more able to share the world-class research and impact coming out of the Department of Sociology.

“These two inaugural lectures are excellent examples of the work in the Department that shines a light on some of the most important issues facing people across the globe. It will be fantastic to have our local community with us as we celebrate with Renee and Sandya.”

For more information on the series and previous lectures, and to book a place use this booking link.

Speakers at the event

Professor Sandya Hewamanne

‘Transnationalism, Neoliberalism and Fluid Identities’

Professor Hewamanne said: “My work, overall, has focused on how marginalized individuals and communities negotiate everyday life in ways that are meaningful to them and in the process shape and stretch boundaries and structures that constrain. I analyse how such negotiations happen within intertwined social realities of neoliberalism and transnationalism--starting with global assembly line workers in Sri Lanka and extending to similar processes in the Global South. This lecture will focus on this intellectual journey.”

Professor Hewamanne is the Director of the Centre for Global South Studies. She is also the Founder Director of IMPACT-Global Work, a non-profit which connects academics and activists to initiate positive policy changes for workers in the Global South. In 2022 she was elected Vice President of the American Institute of Sri Lanka Studies.
Her books include Stitching Identities in a Free Trade Zone and Re-stitching Identities in Rural Sri Lanka: University of Pennsylvania Press (2008); Sri Lanka’s Global Factory Workers: (Un)Disciplined Desires and Sexual Struggles, Routledge (2016); Gender, Neoliberalism and the Politics of Contentment, University of Pennsylvania Press (2020) and the co-editor of The Political Economy of Post-COVID Life and Work in the Global South: Pandemic and Precarity (Springer 2022).

Professor Renee Luthra

‘Origins and Destinations: Understanding the Lives of Immigrants and their Children’

Professor Luthra said: “High levels of immigration in many rich countries have dramatically increased their demographic and socioeconomic diversity, with lasting intergenerational effects: currently more than one in four children under the age of 18 in the UK has at least one foreign-born parent. The experience of migration alters an immigrant’s work, family, and social life; these changes affect their children as well. So to understand the lives of immigrants and their descendants, we need a unique perspective that takes the migration process into account, and also accounts for the influence of socialisation processes and experiences in their sending countries. This lecture will review research that applies this perspective, highlighting key questions about the role of sending country experiences, receiving country institutions, the migration process, and exposure to discrimination in shaping the lives of immigrants in the UK and abroad.”

Professor Luthra is the Founding Director of the Centre for Migration Studies at the University of Essex and the assistant director of the ESRC Research Centre on Micro-Social Change, where she leads on capacity building and convenes the Migration and Ethnicity research strand.

Her research focuses broadly on the causes and consequences of international migration and the intersection between immigration and ethnic and socioeconomic inequality. She teaches courses on social stratification, international migration, immigrant integration, and introductory and advanced quantitative methods.

Her current research projects investigate sending country, legal status, and contextual influences in the lives of immigrants and their children and ethnic inequalities in schooling, work, parenting and health.

She is the author, with Thomas Soehl and Roger Waldinger, of Origins and Destinations: The Making of the Second Generation (Russell Sage Foundation 2018) as well as numerous articles in leading speciality and general journals such as Demography, the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, and International Migration Review.

The next event will be on 22 February. For more information about the event series and to book a free place, follow this link.