Orfalea Center Thematic Research Cluster

The Anthropology of Migration

Course Description:

Migration and border crossings have become one of the biggest public policy issues throughout our world today. Many of us come from migrant families, communicate with migrant communities, or have at least come across extensive media coverage of the issue. This class is an introduction to the studies of borders, migration, and the international refugee regime. It provides students with ethnographic tools to think through the questions of how people encounter border crossings, life in diaspora, and humanitarian organizations. Each week, students will read articles and selections from ethnographies that will give them a critical approach to popular perceptions of exile and displacement. Memory, racialization, labor, and violence come up as some of the main themes that affect what it means to flee one’s home country. Using an anthropological lens, we will center the experiences of people and their narratives, while still considering historical, political, and economic processes. Students will be asked to submit weekly reflections and notes on the readings. This will help them work through their final research paper. Students will then choose a specific theme or concept related to migration to write about in their paper. If students have the means, they can also incorporate interviews and observatory notes into their written pieces.

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