Kurt Kuehne

PhD student, Sociology

Faculty advisor: Gay Seidman

Kurt Kuehne is a PhD student in Sociology. He completed his bachelor’s degree in politics at Princeton University before coming to UW–Madison for a master’s degree in Southeast Asian Studies.

Kurt’s dissertation research studies the politics of low-wage labor migration in the modern, global economy. Using a comparative case study in Southeast Asia, he discusses the hidden costs for migrant workers that come with temporary guest worker programs. To conduct fieldwork, Kurt volunteers as a caseworker at two migrant advocacy NGOs, where he assists workers with documenting injury compensation claims, recouping unpaid salary, escaping abusive or violent employers, and similar issues. This design ensures that his fieldwork itself has a direct and meaningful impact on the migrant worker community, while also informing his scholarship and understanding of the migrant worker experience.

To support his work, Kurt has received an Advanced Opportunity Fellowship and a University Fellowship from UW–Madison. Since receiving this support, he has also received two Foreign Language and Area Studies Summer Fellowships, an honorable mention in the Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship Competition, a Scott Kloeck-Jenson International Internships Fellowship, and an American Institute for Bangladesh Studies Junior Fellowship, among others. Kurt said that when he applied for visiting graduate student status at an overseas institution to gain library access and other resources during his fieldwork, his UW–Madison Fellowship served as proof of research support and enabled him to gain visiting student affiliation.