Project Title:
Race, Indigeneity, and Diasporas

Project Description:
The Race, Indigeneity, and Diasporas Research Cluster builds on existing research strengths at the UMN-TC to critically address through interdisciplinary collaborations how settler colonialism, race, indigeneity, migration, refugee resettlement, border crossings and border zones, genocide, transnationalism, and globalization in the U.S. affect diverse communities in the Midwest – with a particular focus on communities of color and structures of inequality. Some critical issues include:
  • How have Native peoples and communities been impacted by settler colonialism, global migration and refugee resettlement, and intensified globalization?
  • How and why have race relations and racial formations shifted in the U.S. Midwest post-1965, post-1975 and post-1990?
  • How and why is the Midwest a place of borders and border crossings?
  • How and why is “the local” always connected to “the regional,” “the transnational,” and “the global?” What do these different “scales” of geography and connected places or networks mean for Natives, Migrants, Immigrants, and Refugees?
  • What does it mean “to live, survive, and thrive in diaspora” in the context of the Midwest?
  • How do people and communities of color living in the Midwest narrate or understand their memories, histories, and notions of identity/community/place/belonging in an era of intensified social inequality and globalization?

By critically addressing the complexities of race, indigeneity, and diasporas together, the research cluster takes seriously settler colonialism as important to the study of migration and diaspora, primarily because most scholarship on migration and diaspora often erases, marginalizes, and/or makes invisible the strong presence of Native communities, histories, and scholarship. Consequently, the Cluster seeks to underscore the importance of Native Studies to studies of migration and diaspora. Just as importantly, we recognize that Natives travel and have transnational and cross-border connections and networks too.

Secondly, the Research Cluster will address race and race relations in the Midwest, but always in intersectional ways that will also address how race, gender, sexuality, class, citizenship, and location co-constitute one another. This cluster therefore seeks to understand race and race relations in complex, nuanced ways that simultaneously address other axes of difference and power relations.

Lastly, by focusing on diverse, overlapping, and competing diasporas, the cluster takes seriously issues of borders and border crossings, translocalities and transnationalism, and global community networks, histories, memories, and imaginaries. The cluster is interested in the Midwest and beyond the Midwest, precisely to problematize isolated, provincial, and hyperlocal notions of the Midwest.

With additional funding, possible outcomes from a long-term collaboration with collaborators from consortial institutions include, but are not limited to:
  • A mid-May 2014 meeting that draws together draws together humanities scholars at UMN-TC with behavioral/social science scholars from UMN-TC and other consortial institutions to develop a collaborative study on the cultural contexts of ethnic-racial identity development.
  • A writing retreat where participants can workshop papers and projects in a non-institutional setting.
  • An interdisciplinary conference on Race, Indigeneity and Diaspora in the context of global migration in the U.S. Midwest.
  • A curated film festival on Race, Indigeneity and Diaspora in the context of global migration in the U.S. Midwest that could travel to different U.S. Midwestern cities and universities.

Organizer Name:
Erika Lee, Director of the Immigration History Research Center

Organizer's Contact Information:
erikalee@umn.edu

Organizer's Departmental and University Affiliation:
Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota



Project Title:
Local/Global Storytelling, Art, and Performance
Project Description:
Stories and histories are often the way we locate ourselves in worlds. This cluster considers how immigrant, indigenous, and minority communities imagine, map, and reshape the terrain of the Midwest and its global connections through writing, memoir and autobiography, storytelling, history making, performance, and other kinds of social and cultural production. Individual subjectivities and communities are formed through and reflected in stories of self, relationship, and place. We will look at how ideas of self and community are located and dislocated to ask:
  • How do people imagine themselves as being at home?
  • How do they remember, resurrect, and preserve their histories from one place to another?
  • How do their stories render visible the complexities and contradictions that are part and parcel of the varied diasporic, indigenous, and migrant spaces within the global Midwest?

The form and function of stories can reveal much about the global Midwest. Some critical questions include:
  • How might hip-hop and spoken word performances illuminate the multiple and sometimes contradictory meanings of blackness within the African diaspora?
  • How might the oral histories of Asian Americans challenge the stereotypes of the “model minority?”
  • What do testimonials given by Latinos in the Midwest show about the “browning of America?”
We are not only interested in the content of these communities’ histories and experiences, but also in the varied ways in which they are telling them. We might therefore ask:
  • How does live and recorded performance invite comparison, connection, and public dialogue?
  • How do multi-media digital stories created and narrated by immigrant and refugees themselves, for example, create alternatives to the cliches of the American dream and the immigrant paradigm?
  • How does open-access digital technology with its worldwide reach affect content, presentation, and audience reception?
  • How does a publicly-accessible digital archive allow for the creation of a community from dispersed peoples? Documentation of historical and contemporary experiences? Public dialogue?
This cluster brings into conversation a number of existing projects at the UMN-TC (for example, the IHRC’s Immigrant Stories Digital Storytelling Project and the Digital Humanities for Social Justice Project in GWSS) that combine digital humanities theory and practice. Our aim is to encourage longer collaborations that - with additional funding - will take the form of:
  • Multi-sited and coordinated creative and media justice projects bridging community and academy
  • The creation of publicly-accessible digital storytelling site and digital archives
  • Several joint sessions at related conferences (American Studies, Association for Asian American Studies, National Council for Public History, etc.)
  • Co-taught courses
  • Professional development of graduate and undergraduate students
  • Exhibits, public history programming, creative performances
  • Journal publications (Verge: Studies in Global Asias, based out of Pennsylvania State University, has already expressed interest in the project being highlighted in the journal’s digital humanities spotlight section.)
  • A dynamic website that serves as a hub for partner projects and includes a library of materials and resources on critical digital humanities more broadly (including feminist, anti-racist, postcolonial) projects as well as an annotated bibliography, curricular and outreach materials, permissions, directions related to digital storytelling projects, and other resources.

Organizer Name:
Erika Lee, Director of the Immigration History Research Center

Organizer's Contact Information:
erikalee@umn.edu

Organizer's Departmental and University Affiliation:
Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota



Project Title:
Education and Literacies Across the Generations

Project Description:
Formal and informal educational contexts are often the most important site for linguistic and cultural contact, and where new arrivals learn what it means to ‘be American’, to ‘be Midwestern’ and to ‘do school’ in the U.S. At the same time, the large influx of new arrivals to this region is dramatically changing how schools and classrooms function. This cluster examines the educational experiences of the Midwest’s newest arrivals across multiple physical, virtual, and hybrid spaces - in schools, at home, and in religious and secular community centers.

Research central to this cluster examines the mechanisms and outcomes of this contact, and take up questions such as:
  • How are transnational and refugee immigrant students using multilingual resources to navigate their new terrains, and author and narrate their own experiences?
  • How do formal schooling experiences shape language and literacy practices at home and across generations?
  • How and to what extent do recent arrivals they find resources and engage in informal learning through digital technologies, including the Internet?
  • What is the nature of interaction and learning across newer and later arrival refugees in these settings, and how do resettled immigrant youth and adults in the region understand and make sense of shifting demographics?

With additional funding, this research collaborative will extend work on existing research projects at the UMN-TC to further define research questions and collaborative and comparative research projects across sites. Outcomes of this work might include:
  • Thematic special issues in leading journals in the field (e.g., Journal of Language, Identity and Education)
  • Several special sessions at major conferences (e.g., American Anthropological Association, American Educational Research Association, American Association of Applied Linguistics)
  • A public policy overview and recommendations in collaboration with non-governmental organization (e.g., Minnesota Minority Education Project, MPI http://www.migrationpolicy.org).

Organizer Name:
Erika Lee, Director of the Immigration History Research Center

Organizer's Contact Information:
erikalee@umn.edu

Organizer's Departmental and University Affiliation:
Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota