PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — A grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will kickstart a new series of initiatives and discussions at Brown University focused on migration to and from countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The $225,000 grant, awarded to the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS), the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice (CSSJ) and the Department of Africana Studies at Brown, will fund a Sawyer Seminar — in effect, a temporary, Mellon Foundation-funded research center. The seminar will explore why people migrate to, from and within Latin America and the Caribbean, how attitudes about race and ethnicity influence and intersect with migration, and what kinds of policy and other political roadblocks migrants encounter. The grant will fund a series of public discussions, arts performances and exhibitions, community-driven podcasts and more, held this fall through Spring 2022.
Patsy Lewis, director of CLACS and a visiting professor at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, said the Sawyer Seminar aims to reframe the conversation on migration within higher education and beyond, enabling scholars and community members to better understand and respond to persistent inequalities.
“Migration is often classed as something that is problematic — a drain on national resources, a contributor to community unrest, a blow to natural-born citizens’ job prospects,” Lewis said. “But migration has enriched societies in meaningful ways. This series will give scholars and the diverse Providence community a chance to engage in more nuanced conversations about migration, whether it’s migration within Latin America and the Caribbean or migration between those regions and North America.”
Engagement with the community in and around Providence, where approximately one-third of residents are immigrants and 43% identify as Hispanic or Latinx, is at the heart of the seminar series, Lewis said. A steering committee made up of leaders and faculty from CLACS, CSSJ and Africana studies will work closely with Rhode Island nonprofits that advocate for immigrants and residents of color to ensure that Sawyer Seminar programming aligns with community priorities.