Mason’s Folklore Program in partnership with the Institute for Immigration Research and the Center for the Study of Social Change, Institutions, and Policy hosted the Telling Migrant Stories workshop on September 17-18. The two-day workshop convened social science researchers, immigration policy professionals, and immigration activists to foster transdisciplinary conversations about migrant and refugee stories.
Kate Parker Horigan of Western Kentucky University began the workshop by encouraging participants to understand the power and danger of the “the good refugee” trope using research with Bosnian refugees in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Marco Jacquement of the University of San Francisco discussed the structure of bureaucratic asylum narratives of Kurdish refugees in Italy. Adam Strom of Re-Imagining Migration discussed the features of “moving stories” about migrants told in the K-12 classroom.
The afternoon session considered methods for studying and presenting migrant stories. Joseph C. Ewoodzie Jr. of Davidson College used letters from Ghanaian immigrants to investigate ties between families across continents. William Westerman of New Jersey City University discussed the ethics of conducting research on migrant stories. Amy Shuman of Ohio State University ended the day with a keynote presentation about the conflicting narratives that circulate about immigration in the U.S.
The second day of the workshop considered the policy implications for telling migrant stories. Sabina M. Perrino of Binghamton University analyzed racialized narratives about migrants in Northern Italy. Schar School faculty member, Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, shared the journey of two Cuban men seeking asylum in the United States to illustrate the difficulties migrants face in traveling to the U.S. Wendy Feliz of the American Immigration Council closed the workshop with a call for refocusing storytelling strategies to connect U.S and foreign-born people across common identities, struggles, and aspirations and create a narrative of “us” instead of casting immigrants as “others.”
October 12, 2021