Language Isolation on the Migrant Trail

By Charlie Bentley, under the supervision of Kim Wilson. I connected to most migrants I interviewed using the same first casual topic: “I’m struggling to get around without Spanish. What about you?” Despite having the help of two Spanish-speaking colleagues, I still found that traveling through Colombia without Spanish language skills was an immense challenge.

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In Adjusting to New Labor Markets, Migrants Draw on Past Experience and Retain a Strong Sense of Pride in Being Able to Contribute

By Conor Sanchez, under the supervision of Kim Wilson. Popular notions of migrants as unskilled or uneducated laborers, while sometimes true, are often false. Their jobs back home may not have always ensured adequate income, a factor that could have played a role in their decision to migrate, but they often required some technical knowledge or training. Our subjects had worked as photographers, teachers, accountants, sociologists, and business owners. Some were property owners, tending to farms and livestock or selling various kinds of merchandise out of their home. In many of the interviews, it also became apparent that these jobs had clearly formed an unshakeable part of their identity.

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The Other Migration: The Financial Journeys of Asians and Africans Traveling Through the Americas

By Kim Wilson et al.

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You and I Are Not Friends: The Challenges of Ethnographic Study in the Migration Field

By Padmini Baruah, under the supervision of Kim Wilson. Transnational migration has been one of the most talked-about phenomena of the past decade. With prolonged armed conflict, economic crises, and climate change affecting different parts of the world adversely, it is not a surprise that an estimated 258 million people live in a country that is not the country of their birth.1 Much news has been generated on this subject, and multiple studies have focused on the macro aspects of this issue. However, equally vital is not losing sight of the fact that while broad patterns and theories can explain the macrophenomenon of transnational migration, each migrant’s story is ultimately a subjective and entirely personal lived experience. The powerful contribution of the individual narrative as well as of ethnographic observations to academic studies in this field cannot be overlooked.

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No Sweat – If You Are a Woman

By Madison Chapman, under the supervision of Kim Wilson. What does it mean to have dignity and personal agency as a migrant? Men and women told their stories to me in very distinct ways, through body language and in their retelling of traumatic events. What does this tell us about understanding gender in ethnographic research and the stories we do and do not hear while interviewing?

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How to Achieve the American Dream on an Immigrant’s Income

By Jeffrey Ashe, Kim Wilson.
The American Dream—being able to earn a good living, buy a home, send children to school, and build a life in the United States regardless of social stature or place of birth—is an aspiration for most who immigrate to the United States. While new immigrants may be fleeing violence, poverty, and persecution—so called “push factors”—they are also pulled by the prospects of a better life for themselves and their children. Some immigrants arrive in the United States wealthy, educated, and fluent in English. These case studies focus on immigrants who may arrive with a few dollars in their pocket, struggle with English, and sometimes are without legal documents. Our research examines how immigrant households save up in groups to transform income that is irregular, uncertain, and low into regular, predictable, and meaningful sums of cash.

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The Other Migration, Part 3: Financial Journey of Refugees

Money can reveal new and important aspects of the migration journey. In part three of this three-part series, learn what finances can tell us as migrants and refugees save, spend, and try to maintain money traveling from around the world, to South America, and up through Central America in a perilous migration route.

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The Other Migration, Part 2: Journey Through the Darién Gap

Migrants and refugees who have fled to South America may attempt to travel up through Central America in search of safety and stability in the US or Canada. This journey involves crossing one of the world’s most dangerous jungles: The Darién Gap, along the border of Colombia and Panama. In part two of this three-part series, learn about this perilous leg of the migration journey.

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The Other Migration, Part 1: Who and Why

As countries across the globe crack down on immigration, migrants and refugees are forced to uncover new travel routes in search of safety and stability. The Other Migration examines the journey of migrants from Africa and Asia as they travel across the world to South America and up through Central America. Part one of this three-part series examines who is traveling on this migration route and why.

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