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Symposium to examine personal, political aspects of immigration

April 09, 2012

What is new about immigration today?  Why is immigration such a politically charged topic? Is it primarily a matter of protecting borders and controlling the entry of “aliens?”  What other aspects of the immigration question need to be examined?

The history of the human race is in some sense a history of movement – of ideas, resources, political and economic activities, as well as of people. Indeed, it may be that migration and movement lie at the core of what it means to be human.

Taken together, [im]migration and movement underpin global debates about nationhood, citizenship and belonging; values and social otherness; questions of social justice; individual, national and cultural identities; and the ways in which people reinvent themselves, their cultures and their worlds in new contexts.

The Institute for Humanities Research Fellows Symposium “[Im]migration and Movement: People, Ideas and Social Worlds” is scheduled to take place from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., April 13, at the University Club, on ASU’s Tempe campus. This event is free and open to the public.

The symposium will feature Ruth Behar, Victor Haim Perera Collegiate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan, who will explore the lived experience of immigrants and the tension between rootedness and displacement, and Nancy Foner, distinguished professor of sociology at the City University of New York, whose talk centers on the parallels and contrasts between immigration today and the last great wave 100 years ago.

ASU participants include Alexander Henn, of ASU’s School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, addressing the movements of tribal peoples trying to negotiate multiple colonial and post-colonial cultural ruptures and Cecilia Menjivar with ASU’s School of Social and Family Dynamics whose presentation will highlight the effects of U.S. immigration law beyond our nation’s borders, underscoring the effects on women. 

The luncheon speaker will be Lisa Magaña from ASU’s School of Transborder Studies. Magaña will focus on the politics of immigration in Arizona.

“Internet communication and advances in transportation over the last few decades has celebrated contemporary aspects of global mobility of people and ideas,” said Sujey Vega, IHR Fellow, who will be presenting at the symposium.

“This progressive notion conceals not only historically situated examples of global movement, but also distracts from current patterns of denied mobility that attempt to restrict certain migrants access to a globalized world," Vega said. "This symposium opens up a space to discuss comparative moments of migration across time and how mobility impacts scholarly work throughout the globe.”

To R.S.V.P. to the symposium, visit

The IHR Fellows Program brings together ASU faculty and visiting scholars to pursue research and writing in an environment designed to be stimulating and supportive. Fellows contribute to the general enrichment of humanities scholarship by attending seminars and holding public events related to their research topics.