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Odessa Gonzalez Benson

Associate Professor in the School of Social Work


Odessa Gonzalez Benson is an Assistant Professor at the UM School of Social Work. She was born in the Philippines and out-migrated as a child with her family at the age of 10, and later returned for college (University of the Philippines), before going on to work in Guam, Korea, Canada and then the United States as journalist, educator, and social worker. With her family and roots in Asia & the Pacific Islands, Dr Gonzalez strives to be an ally and accomplice to the U-M SSW Latinx faculty and staff coalition, and Latinx immigrant communities broadly, through both her research and in practice. The Philippines is the singular country in Asia that shares histories of Spanish (neo)colonialism and language. The research agenda of Dr Gonzalez encompasses immigration issues, while focusing on refugee resettlement and forced migration specifically. In her project in Michigan, Dr Gonzalez engages with and examines immigrant-run organizations’ activities and institutional links, and envisions participatory approaches in service provision and urban governance with immigrant and refugee communities. Dr Gonzalez also works globally in action research, with a grassroots group in Tunisia advocating for families of migrants who have gone missing in the Mediterranean Sea en route to Italy, and with a human rights organization working on climate displacement in the Philippines.

Research Interests:

Refugee Resettlement, Refugee/Migrant-Led Organizations, Participatory Approaches to Urban Governance and Social Services with Refugees, State-Civil Society Relations, Critical Policy Studies