Migration and Experience

Sophomore and above—Fall

This seminar will engage an emerging body of anthropological research that asks how the broad sociocultural, political, moral, and economic structures and processes that produce transnational migration affect the thinking, feeling, and sensing of people whose lives play out in the balance. Through our readings and seminar discussions, we will grapple with a series of questions that probe the contemporary experience of migration, such as: What are the felt consequences of living in between “home” and “host” societies and between “traditional” and “transformed” ways of being? How is the migrant/transborder condition differently shaped by the particular intersections of ethnic, class, state, and other boundaries that are crossed? How do different forms of power shape and constrain migrants’ subjective and intersubjective experiences of time, space, embodiment, and self? In what sense is “illegal” versus “documented” status critical to the everyday politics and poetics of migrant life? In our exploration of these and related questions, we will attend to the ways in which migrants draw on cultural resources to create spaces and practices of connection, protection, and continuity despite the disruptive potential introduced by migration. Latin American and indigenous migration will focus prominently in our selection of readings, which will also include forays into ethnographic contexts such as West African and Filipino migrant experiences in Israel and Yolmo Nepali life in Queens. Students may choose to conduct fieldwork or to engage in service learning for their conference projects.