Alsarah visits with Duke students

Alsarah of Alsarah and the Nubatones visited with Duke students during her artist residency with Duke Performances. She met with students from Refugee Lives (AMES 320S, DOCST 321S) and Strategic Storytelling (PUBPOL 646S) to discuss her influences and her personal migration story.



Africa’s ‘Scramble for Europe’

by Angela Griffe
As part of the Wednesday at the Center series, the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies and the Duke Africa Initiative welcomed Dr. Stephen Smith to speak about Africa’s changing “human geography.”


Smith addressed a packed room on how shifting African migration patterns are changing the European continent demographics. Comparing the colonial “scramble for Africa” to Africa’s current migration flows towards Europe, Smith asserts that Africa’s growing young middle-class will immigrate to Europe looking for economic prosperity.


Since the 1930s, Africa has seen the most significant population growth, the fastest urban growth, and the largest concentration of young people. As the population booms and young people migrate, Africa is seeing mass “rural exodus and urban drift.” Smith explained there is a “quest for modernity,” with young people, especially women, running away from oppressive social structures and seeking a better life.


Smith argues that there are three factors in African migration to Europe: global awareness, a preexisting diasporic community, and monetary resources. With many vibrant communities of Afro-Europeans already present, and a growing young middle class attuned to Western popular culture, the setting is ripe for mass migration.


By 2050, Smith estimates there will be 5 young Afro-Europeans (two of whom under the age of 15) to every aging European. Analyzing this migration pattern cannot be decided in a “void,” for borders are “spaces of negotiation.” Smith concluded that in the age of globalization and shifting demographics, there are winners and losers; but, “we will all be losers if the winners do not take care of the losers.”


Stephen W. Smith teaches African Studies at Duke University. Until 2013, Smith also held an adjunct lecturer position at John Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC. Smith holds a Ph.D. in semiotics from Berlin’s Free University and is a graduate of the Anthropology department at the Sorbonne (Panthéon) in Paris.

The Transnational Experience: Neither from here, nor from there

by Catherine Angst

Mellon Visiting Professor Jill Anderson teaches Duke students about the complexities of the migration story in the Americas.


It’s mid-morning on East Campus and Professor Anderson’s Immigrants in Exile course is a flurry of activity. Students’ hands shoot up as they engage their classmates on their recent reading assignment by Chicana cultural theorist, Gloria Anzaldúa.


“Our immigration system is broken,” Anderson explains to the class. “We haven’t been able to resolve it because it’s this deep conflict that goes back generations. It goes back to the creation of this country and the notion of nation states around the globe. It’s not that simple at all. You cannot reduce it to a tweet.” Anderson explains to the class. Anderson is teaching two special topics courses this semester, Immigrants in Exile (LATAMER 390) and Education and Deportation (LATAMER 590S).


Anderson has always had one foot in the academy and one foot in social justice. She began investigating transnationalism during her graduate studies at the University of Texas in Austin. She holds a Ph.D. in English with a focus on U.S. and Mexican-American literature. She moved to Mexico City ten years ago while working on her dissertation.


In Mexico City, Anderson volunteered at a Quaker guesthouse, the Casa de los Amigos, on community programs for social justice, environmental, and economic justice, and migration. Her community activist work led her to a post-doctoral project at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). “I wanted to do a project bridging the theoretical transnationalism work I had done in my doctorate with my activist-oriented ethnographic work, on the lived reality of being transnational,” said Anderson. The UNAM project resulted in a book project, Los Otros Dreamers, which Anderson co-authored with Nin Solis.


During her research for Los Otros Dreamers, Anderson connected with a community of young Mexicans who had been raised in the United States yet had been deported or forced to return to Mexico. The group expressed conflict with their duel-identities and spoke of the feeling of “ni de aquí, ni de allí” which translates to “neither from here, nor from there.”

This fracture of identities highlights the human costs of migration management that Anderson talks about in her courses. “One of my goals for these courses,” she said, “is that students hear, respond, and listen to people that are a part of this new diaspora that has been created post-deportation and return in this current moment in our history.”


Jill Anderson is visiting Duke University this semester through the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies Mellon Visiting Professor program. After this semester, she’ll return to Mexico City to work with Otros Dreams en Acción, a binational grassroots organization that advocates for Mexicans affected by deportation, the threat of deportation, or the deportation of a family member.

inTransit Workshop looks at Art and Migration around Europe

On February 1st, 2018, academics and artists from around the globe gathered at Duke University for the inTransit: Arts & Migration around Europe workshop. The workshop focused on two themes, “Reversible Patterns: Historical and Contemporary Views from Spain, Northern African and the Middle East” and “Northwards across the Grain of Time: France, Flanders and the Lowlands, West Africa”.

James Amelang, Ph.D. and E. Michael Gerli, Ph.D. presented on the 16th-century expulsion of the Moriscos from Spain. In the videos below, both professors comment on how Spanish history can plan a role in the migration crisis happening in Spain today. Amelang is Professor of History in the Department of Early Modern History at the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain. His research focuses on early modern urban social history with a specialization on Barcelona. Gerli is Common Wealth Professor of Spanish at the University of Virginia. Gerli’s research explores medieval and renaissance literature and linguistics.

The inTransit research group strives to bridge ideological divides and contribute to current debates on migration in major regions of the globe where Romance languages are spoken.




Documenting Italy’s Refugees

On March 30th from 12:00pm – 1:00pm, storytellers and visual journalists Gabriela Arp and Andrea Patiño Contreras will share their experiences documenting the flood of refugees entering Europe through Italy during the Wednesdays at the Center series. Their most recently project, Divided by the Sea, outlines the African and Middle Eastern refugees crossing the Mediterranean to enter the EU through the small southern Italian town of Reggio Calabria.

On June 22nd, a Singaporean ship managed by the Danish shipping company TORM A/S, rescued two boats off the Libyan coast with 221 refugees mostly from West Africa and took them to the port of Reggio Calabria.

On June 22nd, a Singaporean ship managed by the Danish shipping company TORM A/S, rescued two boats off the Libyan coast with 221 refugees mostly from West Africa and took them to the port of Reggio Calabria.

Arp and Patiño Contreras are currently master’s students in the University of North Carolina’s School of Media and Journalism. Patiño Contreras graduated from Duke’s Trinity College in 2012 and studied Cultural Anthopology. A photo from the Dvided by the Sea project won Patiño Contreras the 2015 Duke Sanford School of Public Policy #PolicyinAction photo contest.

Watch “The Story Behind the Photo: Andrea Pantiño Contreras” produced by Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy:


Making Freedom

Anne-Maria Makhulu latest work Making Freedom: Apartheid, Squatter Politics and the Struggle for Home (Duke University Press, 2015) investigates squatter settlements on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa during the time period surrounding the end of apartheid. Makhulu’s work sets a landscape of urban militants actively engaged in what she coins a “politics of presence”.  Making Freedom shows how the defiant domestication of space had reshaped Cape Town’s map and redirected history.

Makhulu is an Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology and African and African American Studies at Duke University. She also sits on the steering committee for the Franklin Center’s Concilium of Southern Africa (COSA).

Left of Black host Mark Anthony Neal recently interviewed Makhulu about Making Freedom.


Representing Migration through Digital Humanities

Speaker: Charlotte Sussman, Ph.D.

From 2017-2019, the Representing Migration Humanities Lab worked to excavate the histories and presents of human mobility, investigating how this phenomenon, which is central to the making of the modern world, entered culture, consciousness and memory through narrative, memoir, archive, history and memorial. A 2019-20 Bass Connections project continues the work of the lab and builds on the 2019 Data+ summer project.

This presentation is sponsored by the John Hope Franklin Center and Bass Connections. A light lunch will be served. Parking is available in nearby Trent Rd. and Erwin Rd. parking decks. The series provides 1-hour parking vouchers to guests.

Why and When People See Immigrants as Threatening

Speaker: Juris Pupčenoks, PhD, Marist College

This talk will be based on an experimental study that Prof. Pupčenoks conducted with Michael Grillo at Scheiner University. They conducted two survey experiments to see how psychological and economic considerations may influence the way Americans see immigrants before and after the heated 2016 Republican Primary session. In their study, they wanted to see how our respondents perceive high (while collar) and low skilled (working class) immigrants, and whether the respondents viewed differently migrants from the Middle East, Latin America and Asia. They found that their respondents had a positive view of immigrants regardless if they were employed in high or low skill jobs—and in both surveys. However, those respondents who perceived that there are too many immigrants—as well as those who hold anti-immigrant predispositions–tend to view all immigrants as representing security, criminal, and socioeconomic threats. During this talk, Prof. Pupčenoks will start by explaining some reasons for why and when people may see immigrants as threatening, then explain the study and key findings, and then will open the floor for what should be a lively discussion related to this topic.

Juris Pupčenoks is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Marist College, a Fellow at Bard College’s Center for Civic Engagement, and the Chair of the Distinguished Book Award Committee for the Ethnicity, Nationalism and Migration Studies Section of the International Studies Association. He is a former Academic Director of the US State Department’s Study of the US Institutes (SUSI) summer institute on American foreign policy for scholars, and Visiting Scholar at the University of Latvia. He previously taught at the University of Delaware and Washington College (MD). He has conducted field research in Muslim communities in the United Kingdom, Italy and the US. A specialist in international relations and comparative politics, Juris completed a B.A. degree at Westminster College (MO), and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Delaware. His research focuses on understanding how different groups (be it diasporas, Americans or Europeans) mobilize politically and react to conflicts abroad. His recent publications have focused on the political mobilization of Muslims and minorities in the West in reaction to foreign policy events, humanitarian intervention, and international law. He is the author of several academic publications including monograph Western Muslims and Conflicts Abroad (Routledge 2017), and articles in International Interactions and Nationalism and Ethnic Politics. He is fluent in Latvian (native) and Russian, intermediate in French, and is currently learning Mandarin Chinese. His research has been supported by grants and awards from International Studies Association, Marist College, University of Delaware, and Schreiner University.

This presentation is sponsored by the John Hope Franklin Center and the Duke University Center for International and Global Studies. A light lunch will be served. Parking is available in nearby Trent Rd. and Erwin Rd. parking decks. The series provides 1-hour parking vouchers to guests.