Assistant Professor in the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Arizona State University

Allan Colbern

Allan Colbern is an assistant professor in the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Arizona State University. His scholarship explores how the relationship between political institutions and social movements shape developments in the rights of racial minorities and immigrants at the national, state, and local levels. Allan spends time engaging in advocacy connected to his academic work, which includes working closely with immigrant rights organizations in states like California and New York to help them build state-wide movement capacity and design long-term policy blueprints.

Allan’s first book, “Citizenship Reimagined: A New Framework for State Rights in the United States,” was published last year with Cambridge University Press (2020). The notion of citizenship as the monopoly of national governments, and deriving exclusively from legal status, does not match the reality of how citizenship rights operate today. Through our rights-based multi-dimensional and federated conceptual framework, Citizenship Reimagined traces and explains three types of state citizenship that have developed throughout American history: regressive state citizenship, where states erode rights that granted to individuals at the federal level; reinforcing state citizenship, where states enforce federal limitations on rights to particular types of individuals; and progressive state citizenship, where states exceed the rights granted to particular types of individuals at the federal level.

He received Russell Sage Foundation’s Presidential Award for their Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration initiative 2018-2021 to support the completion and publication of his second book, “Today’s Runaway Slaves: Unauthorized Immigrants in a Federalist Framework.” This book project explores how federated political institutions (constitutions, courts, parties) and social movements create resistance against unjust federal laws that racialize and dehumanize racial minorities and immigrants as “illegal.” Additionally, Allan recently published a chapter on immigration policy in “Immigrant California: Understanding the Past, Present, and Future of U.S. Policy” (Stanford University Press, 2021) and his work has been featured in popular sources like “The Washington Post” and the “Los Angeles Times.”

In his spare time, Allan enjoys trail distance running having completed the San Diego 100 Mile Endurance Run, the Old Goat 50 Miler and the San Diego 50 Miler, and holds hopes to do another 100 mile run in the future. Allan has two beautiful children (Maya is 4 years old; Kilian is 9 months old) and an incredibly supportive wife, Shima.