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Phoebe Y. Lin (she/they)

PhD Candidate in the Department of Human Development and Social Policy

Phoebe Y. Lin (she/they)

Trust yourself and your own voice. Follow what resonates. Be curious about your fears. Know that you are enough.”

Phoebe Y. Lin is a PhD candidate in the Department of Human Development and Social Policy in the School of Education and Social Policy. Her research aims to better understand how (im)migrants—and notably (im)migrant womxn—build and recast citizenship, race, and gender at the local level in combination with governmental and community organizational practices.

How would you describe your research and/or work to a non-academic audience?
I’m interested in how state policies produce and reproduce inequalities—patterns of uneven distributions of benefits and burdens—particularly for racialized groups and (im)migrants. I’m also interested in how these groups create communities, home, and engage in local politics in ways that shift policy possibilities. For my dissertation, I’m focused on understanding how citizenship, race, gender, and meanings of community are constructed and reconstructed by immigration and welfare policy and by (im)migrants, especially (im)migrant womxn, at the neighborhood level.

Tell us what inspired your research and/or work.
My work is deeply personal, as I believe in knowledge formation emanating from “our specific corporealities,” to quote Cindy Cruz. Migrations have always been a part of my story. My parents migrated to New Jersey from Taipei and their parents from China to Taiwan. I’ve always been drawn to understanding the meanings of home, belonging, and community.

My work aims to dismantle racial, gender, and other forms of hierarchy that undermine collective acts of creating a home, and I hope my work can help build toward more just and inclusive communities rooted in relations of care and dignity rather than extraction.

How do you unwind after a long day?
I make some dinner and I really enjoy watching food-related TV. I find videos of street food vendors and bakeries around the world very relaxing. Reading non-academic books, drawing and painting, and watching movies also help.

What books are on your bedside table?
I’m slowly reading Beloved by Toni Morrison and Memory for Forgetfulness by Mahmoud Darwish. I recently started Soil Called a Country by Grace H. Zhou.

What inspires you?
I draw a lot of inspiration from what’s around me, so tuning into the sights and sounds of nature and of the city helps. I also enjoy food, poetry, and memoirs. I often return to writers like Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, and Ocean Vuong.

What did you originally want to be when you grew up?
As someone who loved reading as a kid, I wanted to be a children’s book author and illustrator (among many other things). I aspire to be someone whose writing resonates with different audiences. I feel lucky that where I am currently on this long road to getting a PhD I get to spend lots of time reading and writing, even if a lot of time is also spent agonizing about writing.

What advice would you give your younger self or someone considering a similar path?
To my younger self, I would say, trust yourself and your own voice. Follow what resonates. Be curious about your fears. Know that you are enough.

Tell us about a current achievement or something you're working on that excites you.
An exciting current collaboration is with fellow student Claire Mackevicius and recent graduate Sheridan Fuller to study the Guaranteed Income Pilot Program in Evanston. I love that I get to study and advocate for a program distributing $500 a month to low-income Evanston residents and that I get to work as part of a larger team. The collaboration and teamwork have been so rewarding when many aspects of graduate school can be isolating.

Published: October 10, 2023

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