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Center for Global Migration Studies Projects

Research and scholarship are at the heart of the center’s mission. The center conducts or collaborates on a number of research projects that will advance the understanding of immigration and migration.

Since 2012, the center has maintained and expanded the Archive of Immigrant Voices to collect stories of the experience of migration. The Archive serves as a digital repository for immigrant interviews conducted by UMD students in the Immigration and Migration Studies capstone course. The goal is to capture, record, and preserve the experience of migration, dislocation, and community formation as immigrants, asylum-seekers, refugees, and other newcomers themselves understood it.

The Center has partnered with the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) to develop the Transforming the Afro-Caribbean World (TAW) project. The objective of the project is to bring together scholars of the Panama Canal, Afro-Caribbean history, and experts in the digital humanities, data modeling, and visualization for a two-day planning workshop that will discuss a large-scale effort to explore Afro-Caribbean labor, migration, and the Panama Canal. Ultimately, goals of the TAW workshop include digitization of a subset of the proposed records to evaluate potential costs and preservation issues; exploration of structured data tools to reveal new insights about these records; the creation of annotated bibliographies for use by teachers and the public as they begin to explore the centennial anniversary of the opening of the canal; and identification of other archives and repositories to be included in a larger project.

Additionally, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and the Center are partnering to conduct research in the field of education and history with the goal of assessing the state of the field regarding the teaching and learning of immigration and migration history in K-12 across the United States. Using the data and analysis generated by the research, the team will advocate for the creation of a new framework for teaching migration/immigration across the country based on the study’s findings.

More information on the mission, progress, and outcomes of the center’s projects can be found in below.

Current Projects

The Archive of Immigrant Voices

In 2012, the Center for Global Migration Studies established the Archive of Immigrant Voices to collect stories of the experience of migration. The purpose of the Archive is to create, accumulate, and preserve a repository of memories that will not only reveal living history and features of the recent past but will also document the fine lines of social change that might be otherwise ignored or lost to history. These stories will provide the basis for understanding how newcomers adapt to challenges and successes. The Archive unites the Center's mission to advance scholarship and teaching while enhancing the Center's connection to migrant communities by capturing, recording, and preserving the experience of migration, dislocation, and community formation as immigrants, asylum-seekers, refugees, and other newcomers themselves understood it. In addition to housing these oral interviews, the Archive also contains further information on the history of immigration, educator resources, and tools for conducting oral histories.

Interviews represent a way to capture and preserve the stories of recent immigrants to the United States as a source for scholars, a classroom tool for teachers, and a resource enabling immigrants themselves to share their experiences and memories. If you are in possession of an oral history collection and would like to donate to the Archive, please contact us at globalmigration@umd.edu.

The Archive is housed on Omeka, and can be found at https://archiveofimmigrantvoices.omeka.net/ or by clicking the logo above!

Other versions of these interviews can be found on the University Libraries' Digital Repository for the University of Maryland here.

The Global Migration Network

The Center for Global Migration Studies has created a global, interdisciplinary, network of scholars focused on contemporary and historical labor migration. This network seeks to generate intellectual dialogue, faculty and student exchanges, collaborative projects, virtual communities, workshops, conferences, and publications.

The CGMS is committed to studying migration through interdisciplinary collaborations and through a global framework. It is also committed to a model of engaged scholarship and pedagogy that seeks to illuminate contemporary social problems. The conditions surrounding global labor migration today--unprecedented in world history--provide the challenge and opportunity for precisely this model of engaged scholarship and pedagogy.

Labor migration is a vast, global, and highly fluid phenomenon in the 21st century. There are more labor migrants working in areas beyond their birth country or region than ever before. According to the United Nations, 232 million people, more than 3% of the world’s population, are living today outside their country of citizenship. More than half of these are migrant workers. If we include internal labor migrants, the numbers soar much higher. In China alone, according to the International Labor Rights Forum, there are today 262 million internal labor migrants. This fluid system of migration is shaping most parts of the globe, from South and North America to Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Labor migrants are vulnerable: they are exploited more easily by recruiters and employers, and are less likely to benefit from union representation. They often face arrest or deportation when attempting to fight for their rights, and are bound to special documents that limit their ability to change jobs. They can become enmeshed in debt bondage, and routinely face separation from family members as well as social isolation. Roughly half are women. And although there are many efforts underway to regulate and improve the conditions migrants workers face by such organizations as the United Nations and the ILO, as well as various NGO’s and regionally-based efforts, so far they are not effective.

Labor migration is not only a pressing social issue; it is also a growing area of scholarship and research in a wide variety of disciplines. In sociology, anthropology, public health, education, and public policy, there is renewed and energetic attention to labor migration. And global labor migration concerns not only social scientists but also humanities scholars. Historians are lavishing attention on the journeys of those who moved to make their living, whether under conditions of coercion, such as slaves or indentured laborers, or voluntarily. From the Irish and Chinese who laid railroad tracks in the 19th century, to contemporary Filipina care workers, or South Asians building soccer arenas, labor migrants’ experiences form a major concern for humanities and social science scholars alike.

Because today global labor migration is shaping the lives of millions, and because it is receiving unprecedented attention by scholars, the time is right for an international and interdisciplinary scholarly network. This network unites social scientists and humanities scholars because connecting the work being done on labor migration in the contemporary world with those historicizing the phenomenon will lend the project much power, insight, and cross-fertilization. It involves scholars from diverse parts of the globe because only that will fully illuminate the continuities and contrasts facing diverse workers, while also allowing for global exchange about the range of intellectual cultures and methodologies available for expanding knowledge on this topic. This project will bring international attention to one of the world’s most pressing issues, generate scholarly dialogue and new research agendas, and propose policies that can improve conditions for migrants.
 

Are you interested in connecting with the Global Labor Migration Network? Fill out this form to become part of the Network and receive updates on the work that we do.

Advisory Board

Ira Berlin, History, University of Maryland
Eileen Boris, History, UC-Santa Barbara
Jennifer Chun, Sociology, Centre for the Study of Korea, University of Toronto
Leon Fink, History, University of Illinois at Chicago
Donna Gabaccia, History, University of Toronto
Julie Greene, History, University of Maryland
Heidi Gottfried, Sociology, Wayne State University
Cindy Hahamovitch, History, University of Georgia
Gioconda Herrera, Sociology and Gender Studies, Facultad Latioamericana de Ciencias Sociales Sede Ecuador
Ruri Ito, Sociology, Hitotsubashi University
Zaheera Jinnah, African Centre for Migration and Society, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Chitra Joshi, History, University of Delhi
Seung-Kyung Kim, Anthropology and Institute for Korean Studies, Indiana University
Anders Kjellberg, Sociology, University of Lund
Eleonore Kofman, Social Policy, University of Middlesex
Leo Lucassen, History, International Institute of Social History, Leiden University
Helma Lutz, Sociology, Frankfurt University
Nelson Lichtenstein, History, UC-Santa Barbara
Mae Ngai, History, Colombia University
Pun Ngai, Sociology, Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Annelise Orleck, History, Dartmouth College
Mary Romero, Justice and Social Inquiry, Arizona State University
Paul Shackel, Anthropology, University of Maryland
Joo-Cheong Tham, Electoral Regulation Research Network, Melbourne Law School
Andres Villarreal, Sociology, University of Maryland
Rodolfo García Zamora, Economics, Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas, México

Past Projects

Immigration in K-12 Education

In collaboration with The Smithsonian National Museum of American History, the Center for Global Migration Studies at the University of Maryland is conducting research in the field of education and history with the goal of assessing the state of the field regarding the teaching and learning of immigration and migration history in schools across the United States (primarily focusing on k-12 settings). The data and analysis generated by the research will serve as the basis for the creation of a new framework for teaching migration/immigration across the country.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, in 2009, there were about 16.9 million children age 17 and under with at least one immigrant parent. They accounted for 23.8 percent of the 70.9 million children age 17 and under in the United States. The study of Immigration and Migration can provide a rich civic learning environment for all students, yet our preliminary research shows that the teaching of this subject is fragmented and contemporary stories of immigration and migration are not given equal historical weight with those of the past.

The collaborative research seeks to understand the current state of the field and to suggest new ways of understanding migration and immigration as explored in the Our American Journey initiative and by the Center for Global Migration Studies. Our American Journey (OAJ): the Smithsonian's Immigration/Migration Initiative has a history of collaboration with the Center. The Center also formally partnered with OAJ for the Migrant Metropolis Conference in March of 2014. A third conference day was held at the National Museum of American History and focused on public history around migration. In addition to these formal partnerships, OAJ has engaged scholars from the Center for conceptual and intellectual framework feedback at a series of consultant and scholar meetings since OAJ's first successful grant proposal in 2009. Research in the area of education and history is a new collaboration between both entities; it will encourage new collaborative teams across departments, schools, and museums thus allowing for cross institutional developments. Because of the existing collaboration between the Our American Journey and the Center for Global Migration Studies, this project will enhance and strengthen the shared goals of both projects.

Transforming the Afro-Caribbean World

The Center for the History of the New America has partnered with the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) to develop the Transforming the Afro-Caribbean World (TAW) project to bring together scholars of the Panama Canal, Afro-Caribbean history, and experts in the digital humanities, data modeling, and visualization for a two-day planning workshop that will discuss a large-scale effort to explore Afro-Caribbean labor, migration, and the Panama Canal.

The U.S. project to construct the Panama Canal exerted a huge impact on the Americas, generating a tidal flow of migration from dozens of nations to the Panama Canal Zone in the early 20th century- and then beyond it to sites across the hemisphere, permanently altering the geography, economy, politics, and cultures of the Western Hemisphere.

The TAW workshop has several aims: 1) digitization of a subset of the proposed records to evaluate potential costs and preservation issues; 2) exploration of structured data tools to reveal new insights about these records; 3) the creation of annotated bibliographies for use by teachers and the public as they begin to explore the centennial anniversary of the opening of the canal; and 4) identification of other archives and repositories to be included in a larger project. Ultimately this start-up grant will produce a work plan and report outlining a potential large-scale collaboration to map and explore the movement of Afro-Caribbean laborers between 1903 and 1920.

The MITH page on the project can be found here.