June 13, 2017
In light of the recent migration catastrophe on the Mediterranean, we propose to examine refugee crises that occur around the globe today. Based on ideas reaching back to the 18th century, the nation-state continues to be the unit that dominates global political geography despite the claims of borderlessness associated with globalization. Other factors of identity, such as regionalism, ethnic and racial considerations, socio-economic standing, religion, and language, also shape questions of belonging which translate into concrete borders and boundaries that are erected, defended, and challenged. One of these challenges is the floods of migration that sweep across the Mediterranean, the Near and Middle East, Northern Africa, and the Mexican-American border, to name just a few of the current hotspots. Migrants from disadvantaged or war-torn regions in the world undertake perilous journeys that fail. In the best case, migrants end up in a nowhere land, shuffled between jurisdictions. In the worst case, migrants die on their journeys.
Daily reports in the media stress the urgency of the issue of global migrations that pose political, economic, and moral and ethical challenges. In a series of meetings we propose to study the issue from a variety of disciplinary perspectives in order to analyze concrete historical and political situations. We are partnering with colleagues in Geography and Art and have identified undergraduate and graduate students from several departments to join monthly meetings. In addition, we will invite guest speakers from diverse disciplinary backgrounds to provide further food for thought. In order to engage in more depth with this multifaceted topic, participating students will produce policy papers in close mentorship with faculty and present their work at our final meeting of the year.