Lisa Simeone

Graduate Lecturer in Human Rights

Lisa Simeone is a lecturer and doctoral candidate in Anthropology at the University of Chicago, where she is completing her dissertation on the economic, sociolegal, and political dimensions of immigration from Subsaharan Africa to the United States. Her fieldwork has focused on the impact of the 2008 recession on French-speaking newcomers to the Chicago area, particularly women and children, and their collective strategies for addressing hardship.

Lisa has more than twenty years of experience as an educator, organizer, and policy specialist in the field of migration. At the University, she has taught social theory in the undergraduate common core as well as a number of courses of her own design, and has been involved in mentorship programs for low-income and minority students. She has also taught English in Chicago’s Mexican-American community, and at the college level in Mexico. With the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights, she directed legislative campaigns leading to the federal restoration of welfare benefits for immigrants, as well as the creation of state programs to fill the gaps in eligibility. She also operated in a technical capacity, providing guidance to public administrators and training their staff in the areas of immigration, health care, and domestic violence.

Between 2000 and 2004, Lisa headed the Region V Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Located in Chicago, the Region V office has jurisdiction over Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, all states with growing immigrant communities. During her tenure, Lisa focused her efforts on increasing access to federal programs by racially and linguistically marginalized populations, as well as people with disabilities. She was also instrumental in bringing local perspectives to bear on the development of state and national policies.

In 2004, Lisa began an extended collaboration with the MIGRANT branch of the International Labor Organization (ILO), in Geneva, Switzerland, as a project officer and consultant. Her publication credits include The Rights of the Immigrant “Otherclass”: An International Framework on Non-Discrimination, Equality of Opportunity and Integration; and International Migration: A Guide for Employers and their Organizations (with Antje Gerstein and Patrick Taran), both forthcoming from the ILO. She is a member of the American Anthropological Association and currently serves on the Executive Committee of Global Migration Policy Associates. She also holds a Residential Fellowship at the University of Chicago’s Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture during the 2013-14 academic year. Lisa expects to receive her doctorate in 2014. [9/2013]

In the Winter quarter 2014, Lisa will teach a Human Rights course titled "An International Migrants Bill of Rights: Theory and Practice" (HMRT 22001). See the course syllabus and description below for more information:

Migrants are often excluded from many of the rights and benefits of membership in the societies where they live. In recent years, a group of advocates has developed an International Migrants Bill of Rights with the goal of consolidating the normative instruments that apply to all migrants, regardless of their status or grounds for admission. This course seeks to engage their efforts by using this “soft law” document as a prism through which to examine the challenges facing today’s migrant workers, refugees, and their families, as well as the possibilities for improving their lives. Each class will explore the implications of a rights category, as articulated within the IMBR, by examining its conceptual genealogy with reference to relevant works of social, legal, and political theory, as well as empirical studies in the social sciences. Class discussion will encourage critical inquiry of human rights as a theoretical and practical framework for addressing problems of structural inequality and exclusion within a global context of growing socioeconomic inequality and extra-judicial law enforcement.