Asad L. Asad is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Stanford University and a faculty affiliate at the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. His scholarly interests encompass social stratification; race, ethnicity, and immigration; surveillance and social control; and health. Asad's current research agenda considers how institutions—particularly U.S. immigration law and policy—reproduce multiple forms of inequality.

Academic Appointments

  • Assistant Professor, Sociology

Program Affiliations

  • Center for Latin American Studies

Professional Education

  • PhD, Harvard University, Sociology
  • AM, Harvard University, Sociology
  • BA, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Political Science & Spanish

2023-24 Courses

Stanford Advisees

All Publications

  • Which rights, and for whom? What relational rights mean in an era of immigrant exclusion LAW & SOCIETY REVIEW Asad, A. L. 2024; 58 (1): 32-40

    View details for DOI 10.1017/lsr.2023.6

    View details for Web of Science ID 001191413000003

  • Deportation threat predicts Latino US citizens and noncitizens' psychological distress, 2011 to 2018. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Johnson, A. L., Levesque, C., Lewis, N. A., Asad, A. L. 2024; 121 (9): e2306554121


    The national context of deportation threat, defined as the federal government's approach to deportation and/or deportation's salience to the US public, fluctuated between 2011 and 2018. US Latinos across citizenship statuses may have experienced growing psychological distress associated with these changes, given their disproportionate personal or proximal vulnerabilities to deportation. Drawing on 8 y of public- and restricted-access data from the National Health Interview Survey (2011 to 2018), this article examines trends in psychological distress among Latinos who are US-born citizens, naturalized citizens, and noncitizens. It then seeks to explain these trends by considering two theoretical pathways through which the national context of deportation threat could distress Latinos: 1) through discrete dramatic societal events that independently signal a change to the country's approach to deportation and/or that render deportation temporarily more salient to the public or 2) through more gradual changes to the country's everyday institutional (i.e., quotidian efforts to detain and deport noncitizens) and social (i.e., deportation's ongoing salience to a concerned public) environment of deportation threat. We find that, though both pathways matter to some degree, there is more consistent evidence that the gradual changes are associated with Latino US citizens and noncitizens' overall experiences of psychological distress. The article highlights how, even absent observable spillover effects of dramatic societal events bearing on deportation threat, the institutional and social environment in which they occur implicates Latinos' well-being.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.2306554121

    View details for PubMedID 38377187

  • On the Radar: System Embeddedness and Latin American Immigrants' Perceived Risk of Deportation LAW & SOCIETY REVIEW Asad, A. L. 2020; 54 (1): 133–67

    View details for DOI 10.1111/lasr.12460

    View details for Web of Science ID 000509857300006

  • Latinos' deportation fears by citizenship and legal status, 2007 to 2018. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Asad, A. L. 2020


    Deportation has become more commonplace in the United States since the mid-2000s. Latin American noncitizens-encompassing undocumented and documented immigrants-are targeted for deportation. Deportation's threat also reaches naturalized and US-born citizens of Latino descent who are largely immune to deportation but whose loved ones or communities are deportable. Drawing on 6 y of data from the National Survey of Latinos, this article examines whether and how Latinos' deportation fears vary by citizenship and legal status and over time. Compared with Latino noncitizens, Latino US citizens report lower average deportation fears. However, a more complex story emerges when examining this divide over time: Deportation fears are high but stable among Latino noncitizens, whereas deportation fears have increased substantially among Latino US citizens. These trends reflect a growing national awareness of-rather than observable changes to-deportation policy and practice since the 2016 US presidential election. The article highlights how deportation or its consequences affects a racial group that the US immigration regime targets disproportionately.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1915460117

    View details for PubMedID 32253307

  • Indigenous Places and the Making of Undocumented Status in Mexico-US Migration INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION REVIEW Asad, A. L., Hwang, J. 2019; 53 (4): 1032–77
  • Hiding within racial hierarchies: how undocumented immigrants make residential decisions in an American city JOURNAL OF ETHNIC AND MIGRATION STUDIES Asad, A. L., Rosen, E. 2019; 45 (11): 1857–82
  • Deportation Decisions: Judicial Decision-Making in an American Immigration Court AMERICAN BEHAVIORAL SCIENTIST Asad, A. L. 2019; 63 (9): 1221–49
  • Migration to the United States from Indigenous Communities in Mexico ANNALS OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF POLITICAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCE Asad, A. L., Hwang, J. 2019; 684 (1): 120–45
  • Mexico-US Migration in Time: From Economic to Social Mechanisms ANNALS OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF POLITICAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCE Asad, A. L., Garip, F. 2019; 684 (1): 60–84
  • Racialized legal status as a social determinant of health SOCIAL SCIENCE & MEDICINE Asad, A. L., Clair, M. 2018; 199: 19–28


    This article advances the concept of racialized legal status (RLS) as an overlooked dimension of social stratification with implications for racial/ethnic health disparities. We define RLS as a social position based on an ostensibly race-neutral legal classification that disproportionately impacts racial/ethnic minorities. To illustrate the implications of RLS for health and health disparities in the United States, we spotlight existing research on two cases: criminal status and immigration status. We offer a conceptual framework that outlines how RLS shapes disparities through (1) primary effects on those who hold a legal status and (2) spillover effects on racial/ethnic in-group members, regardless of these individuals' own legal status. Primary effects of RLS operate by marking an individual for material and symbolic exclusion. Spillover effects result from the vicarious experiences of those with social proximity to marked individuals, as well as the discredited meanings that RLS constructs around racial/ethnic group members. We conclude by suggesting multiple avenues for future research that considers RLS as a mechanism of social inequality with fundamental effects on health.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.03.010

    View details for Web of Science ID 000429514500002

    View details for PubMedID 28359580

  • Association of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms With Migraine and Headache After a Natural Disaster HEALTH PSYCHOLOGY Arcaya, M. C., Lowe, S. R., Asad, A. L., Subramanian, S. V., Waters, M. C., Rhodes, J. 2017; 36 (5): 411–18


    Previous research shows that migraine and general headache symptoms increase after traumatic events. Questions remain about whether posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) produces migraine/headache symptoms, or if individuals afflicted by migraine/headache are especially likely to develop PTSD. We test whether PTSD symptoms following a natural disaster are associated with higher odds of reporting frequent headaches/migraines postdisaster. We decompose PTSD into intrusion, avoidance, and hyperarousal symptom clusters to examine which, if any, are uniquely related to headache/migraine postdisaster.We use prospectively collected pre- and postdisaster data to explore whether overall PTSD symptoms and symptom clusters are associated with migraine/headache in a sample of Hurricane Katrina survivors. We account for severity of hurricane exposure and control for baseline migraine and headache problems to reduce the probability that heightened PTSD susceptibility among those who already suffered from the conditions could explain observed associations.PTSD symptoms were associated with higher odds of experiencing frequent headaches or migraines with a standard deviation change in PTSD score corresponding to over twice the odds (95% confidence interval [1.64, 2.68]) of having trouble with frequent headaches or migraines in the post-Katrina period. Each additional point on the intrusion subscale (sample M [SD] = 1.6 [1.1]) was associated with 55% higher odds of reporting frequent headache/migraine (95% confidence interval [1.03, 2.33]), but we found no association with avoidance or hyperarousal symptoms.Clinicians and disaster planners should be aware that disaster survivors might be at heightened risk of migraine/headache episodes, and those experiencing intrusive reminders may be most affected. (PsycINFO Database Record

    View details for DOI 10.1037/hea0000433

    View details for Web of Science ID 000399744300001

    View details for PubMedID 27929328

  • Network Effects in Mexico-US Migration: Disentangling the Underlying Social Mechanisms AMERICAN BEHAVIORAL SCIENTIST Garip, F., Asad, A. L. 2016; 60 (10): 1168–93
  • Toward a multidimensional understanding of culture for health interventions SOCIAL SCIENCE & MEDICINE Asad, A. L., Kay, T. 2015; 144: 79–87


    Although a substantial literature examines the relationship between culture and health in myriad individual contexts, a lack of comparative data across settings has resulted in disparate and imprecise conceptualizations of the concept for scholars and practitioners alike. This article examines scholars and practitioners' understandings of culture in relation to health interventions. Drawing on 169 interviews with officials from three different nongovernmental organizations working on health issues in multiple countries-Partners in Health, Oxfam America, and Sesame Workshop-we examine how these respondents' interpretations of culture converge or diverge with recent developments in the study of the concept, as well as how these understandings influence health interventions at three different stages-design, implementation, and evaluation-of a project. Based on these analyses, a tripartite definition of culture is built-as knowledge, practice, and change-and these distinct conceptualizations are linked to the success or failure of a project at each stage of an intervention. In so doing, the study provides a descriptive and analytical starting point for scholars interested in understanding the theoretical and empirical relevance of culture for health interventions, and sets forth concrete recommendations for practitioners working to achieve robust improvements in health outcomes.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.09.013

    View details for Web of Science ID 000364268600010

    View details for PubMedID 26397866

  • Contexts of reception, post-disaster migration, and socioeconomic mobility. Population and environment Asad, A. L. 2015; 36 (3): 279-310


    Current theories conceptualize return migration to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina as an individual-level assessment of costs and benefits. Since relocation is cost prohibitive, return migration is thought to be unlikely for vulnerable populations. However, recent analyses of longitudinal survey data suggest that these individuals are likely to return to New Orleans over time despite achieving socioeconomic gains in the post-disaster location. I extend the "context of reception" approach from the sociology of immigration and draw on longitudinal data from the Resilience in the Survivors of Katrina Project to demonstrate how institutional, labor market, and social contexts influence the decision to return. Specifically, I show how subjective comparisons of the three contexts between origin and destination, perceived experiences of discrimination within each context, and changing contexts over time explain my sample's divergent migration and mobility outcomes. I conclude with implications for future research on, and policy responses to, natural disasters.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s11111-014-0221-4

    View details for PubMedID 32999520

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7523815

  • Theorizing the relationship between NGOs and the state in medical humanitarian development projects SOCIAL SCIENCE & MEDICINE Asad, A. L., Kay, T. 2014; 120: 325–33


    Social scientists have fiercely debated the relationship between non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the state in NGO-led development projects. However, this research often carries an implicit, and often explicit, anti-state bias, suggesting that when NGOs collaborate with states, they cease to be a progressive force. This literature thus fails to recognize the state as a complex, heterogeneous, and fragmented entity. In particular, the unique political context within which an NGO operates is likely to influence how it carries out its work. In this article, we ask: how do NGOs work and build relationships with different types of states and--of particular relevance to practitioners--what kinds of relationship building lead to more successful development outcomes on the ground? Drawing on 29 in-depth interviews with members of Partners in Health and Oxfam America conducted between September 2010 and February 2014, we argue that NGOs and their medical humanitarian projects are more likely to succeed when they adjust how they interact with different types of states through processes of interest harmonization and negotiation. We offer a theoretical model for understanding how these processes occur across organizational fields. Specifically, we utilize field overlap theory to illuminate how successful outcomes depend on NGOs' ability to leverage resources--alliances and networks; political, financial, and cultural resources; and frames--across state and non-state fields. By identifying how NGOs can increase the likelihood of project success, our research should be of interest to activists, practitioners, and scholars.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.04.045

    View details for Web of Science ID 000345180600037

    View details for PubMedID 24852816

  • Who donates their bodies to science? The combined role of gender and migration status among California whole-body donors SOCIAL SCIENCE & MEDICINE Asad, A. L., Anteby, M., Garip, F. 2014; 106: 53–58


    The number of human cadavers available for medical research and training, as well as organ transplantation, is limited. Researchers disagree about how to increase the number of whole-body bequeathals, citing a shortage of donations from the one group perceived as most likely to donate from attitudinal survey data - educated white males over 65. This focus on survey data, however, suffers from two main limitations: First, it reveals little about individuals' actual registration or donation behavior. Second, past studies' reliance on average survey measures may have concealed variation within the donor population. To address these shortcomings, we employ cluster analysis on all whole-body donors' data from the Universities of California at Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Two donor groups emerge from the analyses: One is made of slightly younger, educated, married individuals, an overwhelming portion of whom are U.S.-born and have U.S.-born parents, while the second includes mostly older, separated women with some college education, a relatively higher share of whom are foreign-born and have foreign-born parents. Our results demonstrate the presence of additional donor groups within and beyond the group of educated and elderly white males previously assumed to be most likely to donate. More broadly, our results suggest how the intersectional nature of donors' demographics - in particular, gender and migration status - shapes the configuration of the donor pool, signaling new ways to possibly increase donations.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.01.041

    View details for Web of Science ID 000334482100007

    View details for PubMedID 24534732

  • Winning to Learn, Learning to Win: Evaluative Frames and Practices in Urban Debate QUALITATIVE SOCIOLOGY Asad, A. L., Bell, M. C. 2014; 37 (1): 1–26
  • Immigrants and African Americans ANNUAL REVIEW OF SOCIOLOGY, VOL 40 Waters, M. C., Kasinitz, P., Asad, A. L., Cook, K. S., Massey, D. S. 2014; 40: 369–90