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Migration, Free and Forced

Course enrollment will be available for this course once it is scheduled.

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Course Description

This course provides an introduction to anthropology and migration studies. We will ask: How are humans freed or forced to move from one place to another? How do these circumstances affect the power of governments and social groups?

Whether between cities or continents, migration is a common feature of human life. Yet there are enormous differences in the ways that we move about the globe: Some people are free to cross borders when and how they choose, while others are forcibly displaced and sent on journeys beyond their control. Most migrants fall somewhere in between, defying easy classifications of freedom and force. This 2-week course examines how the freedoms and forces around human migration affect our world today. We will study the inequalities that shape migration patterns—that is, who migrates when, where, and how—and ask how migration invigorates or upsets the power of social groups and states. Specifically, the course delves into five key themes in migration studies: (1) law, human rights, and violence; (2) health and the environment; (3) gender, family, and communities; (4) culture and race; and (5) economics, exploitation, and human trafficking.

We will use the discipline of anthropology, the study of human diversity and complexity, to see how these issues combine in the “real world” lives of migrants and others. Students will learn about the personal experiences of migrants from different parts of the world through ethnographic texts, lectures, and audiovisual media. Ethnographic sources are central to socio-cultural anthropology, and they include descriptions from researchers who live and work alongside a group of people—migrants, in our case—as well as that people’s descriptions of their own lives and circumstances. Texts and lectures will also present cutting-edge theories about migration and society. These theories will help us to draw broader conclusions about individual experiences, connect those experiences to greater patterns of migration, and evaluate plans for advancing social justice. Students will build and practice these analytical skills through guided classroom discussions, daily journal entries, and a short essay assignment. As such, the course provides students with a head start in migration studies, anthropological methods, and analytical skills necessary for university courses in the social sciences and humanities.

Students will learn about contemporary social processes that impact, and are impacted by, migration. This will prepare them for further academic study of migration, professional careers related to public policy and public welfare, and engaged global citizenship. Students will also develop the following skills, which are applicable in anthropology and across courses in the social sciences and humanities: nuanced vocabulary of interdisciplinary social concepts, capacity to analyze qualitative data through social theory, and university-level reading, discussion, and writing skills.

This course is open to all students. There are no prerequisites, except for an open mind and respect for human diversity.

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