Day 10 of the Summer Institute: International Relations: An International History and US Immigration

Day 10 of the Summer Institute: International Relations: An International History and US Immigration
By nehinstitute
We read three journal articles, mostly on our way back from New York. After three days of hectic stay in New York, there was no much energy left for studying but we had no choice.
Today’s speaker is from my home state, Minnesota. Prof. Gabaccia is at the University of Minnesota where she directs the Immigration History Research Center.
Prof. Donna Gabaccia is introduced by Prof. Maureen Nutting, the Institute’s director. Immigration History Research Center (IHRC) has rich material on east and southern European migration as well as new refugees.
The lecture started with A. Wimmer and N. G. Schiller on explanation of the “methodological nationalism: Nation- State Building, migration and social science” in Global Networks (2002). This is new theory that advocates immigration seen in the context in its global and transnational nature.
The discussion is broken in 3 parts: the terms, specific individual projects.
Terminology and Methodological Nationalism:
Immigration, migration, mobility, movement and other (diasporic). The group was asked to discuss what these terms mean to them as they relate to their specific projects.
Prof. Jim, an institute participant posed the question: the term, transnational’s, is used loosely and not well defined.
Prof. Mary, another participant: Nation states are contested in Africa. Thus the transnationalism may not be well suited as a conceptual analysis.
2. Methodological Nationalism and Research
Discussion focused on the focus of region and country as well as the problem that academics have with people who study immigration in transnational context.
Prof. Kraut: the health perspective particularly germs are transnational in nature. Similarly the Jewish studies are transnational and diasporic in nature.
Prof. Gabacciano: Best way to study immigration is look at the where immigrants start their immigration and where they end.
Conclusion on methodology, teaching and resources?
What if we ask not about how migration builds US but connects a nation to the rest of the world.
What if we consider US openness to immigration as a form of engagements with the wider world?
What if we analyze US immigration in relationship to other forms of engagement with the world (i.e. diplomacy, foreign trade, commerce)?
Why foreign relations? One aspect of this is the non-state actors that engage in negotiations and other cross-national history. Migrants are an example of non state actors. Immigrants, in this context, are foreign relations of previous and natives. The networks that make their movements possible are a form of foreign relations. As such immigrants seek to influence official or governmental foreign relations.
International migration sometimes is driven by the bilateral diplomatic relations that governments engage in.
Example of how immigrants influence government was the history of history of sponsorship based on family reunification, a notion that started with the Jewish groups fleeing prosecution.
Prof. Gabacciana refuted the myth of 19th century American immigrants as breaking with the past and leaving everything behind. This ignores the fact that immigrants have always been in contacts with the “old world” as evidenced by the volume of letters sent back and forth as well as the remittances going both ways.

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