“Art Against the Wall”

Reading Group Discussion with Stephanie Elizondo Griest

by Samia Noor
Nov. 18, 2019

Stephanie Elizondo Griest recently came to Duke for a reading group to discuss her book, All the Agents and Saints: Dispatches from the US Borderlands. At the discussion, she shared her unique life story. She grew up in the borderlands of Texas. Her family has roots in the King Ranch tracing all the way back to 1853. Her family spent over 130 years living here. Everyone on the Ranch lived together, they had free housing, medical care, and monthly rations. They worked from sun up to sun down, but Griest recalls these memories fondly– saying that she was able to observe her family’s traditions and cultures in this setting. However, in the 1980s with the introduction of rapid industrialization, the owners of the Ranch realized that machines could do maximize production on the ranch. 70-80 people lost their jobs on the Ranch and had to find jobs elsewhere, many of her relatives took up working in the suburbs in places like Walmart. From there, Griest was apart of the first generation of her family to pursue a life off the Ranch, and chose to go to college.

Griest explored different cultures across the globe, moving around the Community Bloc and eventually writing her first book about these very travels. While traveling, she began to gain an interest in native cultures and geography. Griest then turned the conversation about migration into a modern context, discussing the concept of borders. She wanted to learn more about her own people’s migration to the United States, and decided to journey along the border wall. She said, “What separates us is a twist of geographical faith, with me on one side of the border and them on the other.”

Griest challenges the norm discourse of migration by relating the border art stories to the human condition. She discusses how border art is more prevalent on the Mexican side of the border, since any art on the U.S. side is quickly taken down. Border art is a physical manifestation of the pain and struggles migrants face in order to make better lives for themselves, and in many cases border art commemorates their lives because they have died trying to cross.

Crown Lecture in Ethics, Jason DeParle: The Human Story of Global Migration

The Case for Humanizing the Story of Global Migration

by Samia Noor
Nov. 11, 2019

“One third of the world lives in poverty. I think I was in the process of discernment. What should be my response to the problem of global poverty?”

Jason DeParle, a reporter for the New York Times with a focus on migration and poverty, recently came to Duke for the Crown Lecture Series. The Crown Lecture Series focuses on discussing ethical issues in society. DeParle’s conversation with Philip Bennet revolved around how his recent book “A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves: One Family and Migration in the 21st Century” explores the connection between poverty and migration. After DeParle graduated from Duke, he moved to the Philippines to do a one year fellowship focused on global poverty. He came with the intention of exploring the causes of poverty, and left with a larger understanding of global migration and how poverty is in fact the root cause of migration.

In DeParle’s time in the Philippines, he closely connected with a family that represents the modern struggles of migration. The father in the family he connected with worked in Saudi Arabia as a construction worker and sent home remittances. This was not uncommon for Filipino families, most had the head of their household living overseas and sending back money for them to sustain themselves off. Families pushed for their children to grow up and go abroad, to leave their home country that didn’t have any economic mobility opportunities for them. While migrating and adapting to new cultures was hard, DeParle points out that these migrants are proud. They are proud of their home nation and bringing their cultures and traditions abroad. They are proud of the struggles and challenges they faced to come to another nation. Rosalie, a woman DeParle befriended in the Philippines, waited 20 years to get her visa to the United States.

The narrative of migration is largely told with connotations of tragedy and sadness. While modern migrants do face extreme challenges leaving their home country and having to embrace a new identity abroad, it is time to change the narrative of migration. In DeParle’s novel, he was able to come to terms with his own developed perception of migration. Modern migrant stories should be told proudly and respected for the grit and endurance they have. It’s time to humanize the story of migration and look beyond the tragedies, and start looking for the proud stories migrants have to tell.

Representing Migration Humanities Lab Fellowship Application 2019-2020

We are delighted to announce that the REPRESENTING MIGRATION HUMANITIES LAB will be offering  SIX FELLOWSHIPS in 2019-2020!

Come be a part of an exciting community at Duke exploring the art and politics of migration, from humans and animals to plants and microorganisms.

Taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity will enable you to:
• Acquire and/or practice research and teaching skills (archival, digital, administrative, collaborative) that you may not be using in your regular coursework or dissertation process
• Work closely and enjoy stimulating conversation with Duke faculty and graduate and undergraduate students outside of a traditional classroom setting

Who is eligible?
• Graduate students at any stage working on a migration-related project in the humanities
• Motivated undergraduates with a clear project related to migration.

How to Apply:
• In a document:
o Describe the project that you imagine yourself working on over the 2019-20 academic year. The more specific you can be about the labor entailed in the project and the imagined outcome the better, but please limit yourself to ~300 words. Outcomes do not need to be in the traditional form of research papers but can include syllabi, databases, digital projects, or other outcomes.
o We encourage projects related to the lab’s Bass Connection team (https://bassconnections.duke.edu/project-teams/representing-migration-through-digital-humanities-2019-2020), but other projects will also be considered. In the event that the projects are related, the fellow will be expected to participate in the Bass Connections team’s work.
• Email application to Professor Charlotte Sussman (sussman@duke.edu).
• Applications are due 9/6/19. Decisions will be made by 9/23/19.

• Fellows will receive a one-time $1,000 fellowship payment after the completion of the terms of the fellowship, and up to $150 in reimbursement for relevant books and materials.
Obligations for Fellows:
• Present at the lab’s works-in-progress event early in spring semester 2020.
• Deliver a conference-length paper related to your project in April 2020 at a Fellows Symposium.
• Attend the RMHL’s monthly reading group.
• Attend an orientation session in September 2019.
• Undergraduate fellows will also be required to attend three additional mentoring sessions each semester.
• Undergraduate fellows will also be required to attend and write summaries of a migration-related event on campus (reading group, talk, author visit, film screening, etc. three times per semester (6/year) for possible publication on the lab’s website.


1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Perkins Library 218
West Campus, Duke University

Jessica Covil “Keyword ‘Feminist’: Searching for Women in Garvey’s Movement” When searching the archives for black women’s involvement in Garveyism, it is not enough to type “feminist” or even “woman” in the digital finding aid. This presentation emphasizes the need to look beyond the obvious labels in order to highlight black women’s contributions to the movement–through poetry, newspaper columns, letters, and even class notebooks.

Kelsey Desir “New Negro Womanhood and Labor” This presentation will center New Negro Womanhood and the tensions that arose from Black women entering the workforce outside of the domestic sphere. In particular, publications like Negro World and Half-Century Magazine will be used to elucidate the discourse surrounding Black women’s labor and its function in 20th­century Black liberation politics.

Nicole Higgins “Reflections on Writing Home” This presentation will consider, retrospectively, the opportunities and challenges of opening up the archival work of the Lab to the Durham community beyond Duke and highlight the resonances of poetry across time and space, from the widely circulated Negro World newspaper to our own cozy experimental workshop.

Dana Johnson “Representing Migration: Culture and Politics in Translation” This presentation will share an original syllabus for a course on representing migration. This course will consider representational issues fundamental to the discipline of anthropology via deep engagement with both ethnographic and literary texts on human migration.

Jared Junkin “Narrative and Asylum: The Role of Creative Writing in Representing Migration” This presentation will share research on the European Refugee Crisis, focusing on how it has been integrated into original creative writing. Clips from a short documentary and a reading from work in progress will showcase this research.

Refreshments Provided RSVP to Karen Little: kel32@duke.ed



10:30 am – 12:00 pm
Murthy Digital Studio at Bostock Library,
West Campus, Duke University
Andrew Kim (UNC) and Trisha Remetir (UNC), graduate fellows is the Representing Migration Lab (RMHL), will present their perspectives on applying linguistic landscape methodologies to readings of postcolonial film.

Small refreshments provided -please RSVP to Karen Little (karen.e.little@duke.edu) 4/ 19

04/13, Working Group: Viet Thanh-Nguyen, The Sympathizer (2015)

Working Group: Viet Thanh-Nguyen, The Sympathizer (2015)
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Allen Building 314
West Campus, Duke University
At the final working group of the year for the Representing Migration Humanities Lab, we will be discussing Viet Thanh-Nguyen’s, The Sympathizer (2015) in collaboration with Ryanson Ku, Post-Doctoral Fellow in the English Department.
*Dinner will be served.*

02/28, Writing Home

Writing Home

A workshop in the spirit of Poetry for the People for thinking, reading, and creating in a community about home. Open to the Public.

For more information, contact Nicole Higgins at nicole.higgins@duke.edu or visit https://sites.duke.edu/representingmigration/

***Refreshments will be Served***