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Summer Institute on International Migration Covers Broad Agenda
Migrant communities share a street in Los Angeles' Koreatown.

Summer Institute on International Migration Covers Broad Agenda

Senior and junior scholars from many universities share research on migrant groups in 6-day meeting at UCLA.

The second Social Science Research Council Summer Institute on International Migration was held at UCLA June 21-26, 2004, funded in part and supported by the UCLA International Institute. Organized by Roger Waldinger and Adrian Favell (Sociology), the Summer Institute brought together an international, interdisciplinary group of senior and junior scholars in an effort to:

  • expose junior scholars (advanced graduate students and recent postdoctoral scholars) to cutting-edge research in the field of international migration;
  • emphasize the multiplicity of social sciences approaches and methodologies, while also underscoring the importance of international comparisons;
  • develop an intellectual community of migration scholars, and also help to bridge the gaps of discipline, methodology, and seniority.

Conference organizer Roger Waldinger, former chair of the Sociology Department, comments:

"I think that I can reliably tell you that the Institute was a great success: it brought together a large, diverse group of senior and junior faculty, the very great majority of whom participated in a serious and committed way. The conference was organized to focus on participants' work, which I think worked very well. At the minimum, every participant who submitted a paper received a careful comment from a faculty member. The seriousness of the faculty engagement was very much appreciated by the junior participants. It was my sense that the general mood throughout the Institute was excellent; the informal feedback that I received from colleagues was equally good."

The Institute involved two days of workshops (with two concurrent workshops each morning and each afternoon), followed by two days of conference, followed by an additional two days of workshops. The workshops were run as small seminars, with abstracts posted in advance and readings made available on a website. Workshops focused on a range of issues: problems of methodology (the two ethnography sessions); databases (the sessions on comparative integration; on the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey; on residential segregation; the Mexican Migration Project); on conceptualization (the session on "ethnicity without groups"), to give just a few examples. These substantive workshops were supplemented by three "professionalization" workshops: getting an academic job; developing a tenurable record; publishing books and articles.

The back-to-back workshops ranged from the U.S.-Mexico immigration nexus to residential segregation, European comparisons, migration and mutating gender roles, to labor markets and human capital studies. Plenary panels looked at changing concepts of citizenship, religion and immigrant communities, migrants to the United States who settle in rural areas, changes in fertility, housing markets, mixed ethnic identities, transnational policing of migrant flows, and Islamic communities in the United States, Mexico, and France.

Though including four plenary sessions on "big issue" topics, the conference principally sought to focus on participants' own research. Papers were posted in advance and panels were conducted "Brookings Style," with a faculty discussant summarizing and delivering critical commentary on the papers. The 12 panels, featuring a total of 36 papers, raised a broad set of issues, ranging from "Immigration and Citizenship in Europe and Beyond" to "Fertility, Family, and Migration," to Islamic and Arab Identities," to "Latin American Migrations." The full program and abstracts of the workshops are available on the conference website. The organizers also sought to create numerous opportunities for networking, including a dinner, two parties, and a daily on-site catered lunch.

The Summer Institute's faculty was drawn from a broad variety of disciplines, including anthropology, geography, history, political science, sociology, and urban planning. Fourteen members of the UCLA faculty, along with 15 senior scholars from other universities (UC Irvine; UC San Diego; State University of New York-Albany; New School for Social Research; University of Washington; Barnard College; Pittsburgh; Colegio de la Frontera Norte; University of Guadalajara; University of Utrecht; Lancaster University; Stirling University; University of Leuven; and City University of New York) participated in the Summer Institute as either workshop leader, conference commentator, or in both capacities. Biographies of the workshop leaders and conference commentators are also available on the Migration Institute website.

Junior scholars, split roughly evenly between newly minted Ph.D.s and dissertation writers, were an equally diverse group. Twenty-nine junior scholars from other universities came to UCLA for the Institute; they were joined by 10 UCLA pre- or post-docs as well as two recent UCLA Ph.D.s. Their biographies are also posted on the Institute website.


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