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:

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