An IGS Conversation: The Challenges of Global Migration

Refugees of Libyan War head to Europe.Wednesday February 15
7 PM (6:30 for pizza)

Mandel Center Reading Room (3rd Floor)

IGS will kick of the new semester on Wednesday evening, February 15, with the next installment in its year-long Conversation Series on global issues. Up for discussion will be “The Challenges of Global Migration.”

Why are so many of the world’s peoples on the move?  What awaits them when they arrive?  How can North Africans migrating to Europe cross divides of wealth, religion, and culture?

Four Brandeis seniors from the IGS Department will be sharing their conclusions on these and other challenges of migration, drawing from their own research and first-hand experience with migrant communities while studying abroad.

Tess Raser ’12, will discuss the work she did with Libyan refugees while studying abroad in Sicily. She is currently completing a senior thesis on the political anthropology of the refugee crisis there.


 Gabrielle Santoro ’12, will discuss the role that Moroccan immigrants play in the city of Granada, where she studied abroad in the spring of 2011.


Nashrah Rahman ’12, will explore why Egyptians are continuing to leave Egypt, even though the revolution has technically ended. She will be discussing the “push” and “pull” factors that are affecting many Egyptians’ decision to emigrate.


Elise Allan ’12, will examine the battle over the immigration and assimilation of North Africans in southern France. She has studied abroad in both Montpellier, France, and Quito, Ecuador.


Professor Beatrice de Gasquet, Florence Levy Kay Fellow of Culture and Politics in the Francophone World, will be moderating.

As always, we want to hear your thoughts on the matter, too! While much of our panelists’ work has focused on migrants in the Mediterranean world, we hope to broaden our discussion to include other global migrations as well. Here’s your chance to share your thoughts on the challenges that come with so many people on the move.

We look forward to seeing you there!


9 Replies to “An IGS Conversation: The Challenges of Global Migration”

  1. One thing that I found very interesting about tonight’s discussion were the diverse groups of immigrants entering all parts of the globe. I had no idea that Granada and Sicily were homes to so many different groups of people, people who brought their own cultural influence to their new countries. But the key trend that I heard in tonight’s panelist discussion was the importance of communication and the methods used to express human ideas in the modern age. What is occurring now also occurred in the past (as history always tends to repeat itself), oppressed peoples are acting up either violently or nonviolently to earn their rights. The immigrants try to get their concerns heard by the government through physical disturbances (vandalism), or through nonviolent means (the internet and youtube). And as a social justice advocate, I found myself questioning which method would bring about the most powerful results.
    Just as this argument arose during the era of segregation (Malcolm X vs. Martin Luther King’s activism methods) it is also becoming an issue in the present day. Even though both of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X made a great impression on history, there is no doubt that Martin Luther King’s wisdom rang loudly, so loudly that his words still hold true and are an inspiration in the 21st century. Using wisdom and truth instead of fists and brute strength appealed to the intellectual being in all humans during this time of immense racism, and inspired many to become more open minded individuals.
    So by looking at King’s legacy, I believe that the immigrants of today should take a similar approach to getting their voices heard. The internet is an invaluable source of information and should be used. It is a form of protest that is 100% true and raw, a form of justice that can never be faked. This form of expression appeals to the intellectual in humanity. And since equality is an advanced idea in modern society, the actions of brute force would be misinterpreted and would not convey the evolved ideas that it is trying to get across.
    This panel discussion inspired me to think about social justice and how humanity should respond to the growing shifts in globalization.

  2. I deeply enjoyed Tess’ presentation on migration in Italy. When I study abroad, I would like to go to Italy so it was interesting to hear about volunteer opportunities in Sicily. The most interesting fact was how the EU does not allow immigration. That was surprising to me because I feel like everyone should have the opportunity to move somewhere else. Hearing about the Libyan refugee camps was heart tugging because I feel bad that they people she worked with did not have a good chance of fitting into Italian society. I also enjoyed Nashrah’s presentation on Egypt. I liked her theory of how Egypt’s revolution was based off the economy. Especially because we have the 99% movement nowadays in America, and that has been a peaceful movement. It was interesting to hear about Egypt’s economic revolution. I thought she included tons of facts that helped me understand how serious the economic situation is in Egypt.

  3. I found the Tess Raser talk interesting because I have some background knowledge on the topic of immigration to Italy. I understand why the Lega Nord doesn’t want the influx of immigrants from north Africa and eastern Europe, for the same reason that the US tries to prevent influxes of immigrants from Mexico. The Italian economy is already lopsided, with the wealthier north heavily supporting the poor south. A lot of the subsidies to the south don’t even get to the citizens who need it, the mafia scams the money. Job scarcity adds to the economic turmoil, and with boatfuls of immigrants arriving on the shores of Sicily and Lampedusa, competition for jobs is increased between immigrants and Italians. Additionally, Italian nationalism and cultural pride creates a sense of xenophobia when combined with the economic aspects.

  4. I found the presentation on media perceptions in France of North African migrants extremely interesting, especially because I just traveled to Paris for a week this past semester. When I was Paris, I could tell that the French have a strong opinion of what exactly French culture is. This French culture is further transferred to modern media where it becomes the new battleground, especially because North African migrants are not looked at in the same way as French citizens. Instead of just chanting in the streets against their oppression, they take their opinions to the media because they have a lack of identity in France. They express their injustices which goes along with the CNN effect. The CNN effect basically states that whatever you do can be reported to the world in just an instant, through the computer, cell phones, and other media devices. The media is a form of self expression and almost anyone has access to it. It can empower individuals to define themselves instead of allowing a country to define the individual. It is extremely powerful in that sense.

  5. I really enjoyed the topics of all the speakers. They had gone to different places around the world to study immigration yet all the immigrants were coming from Africa, and this fact really interested me. They were all traveling to different parts of Europe to escape the terrible conditions of their homeland. Also, all the different forms of migration were of interest to me because they gave me a broader understanding of why people leave and how they end up in certain locations. The one group in particular that caught my attention was the migrants from Liberia to Sicily. As Tess explained, they literally walk to different areas around the world and figure out how to get to different locations to, finally, end up in Italy, and when they arrive there, they are still not granted citizenship. For this reason, it makes me question why they want to go there when they cannot get citizenship. They may be able to get refugee status, but even then, it does not seem to be that much better. I understand the Italy is bound to the laws of the EU and that they may not be able to incorporate so many immigrant, but the fact that Libyans will still try to go there, without having any ties to the land, really makes me wonder about the motivations and agendas of these people.

  6. The discussion on “The Challenges of Global Migration” was very informative as it covered a diverse range of cultures. Their presentations definitely gave insight into these cultures from someone with first-hand experience.The violent incident during a soccer match was particulary interesting in Nashrah Rahman’s presentation. It was surprising that the military simply allowed the violent situation to progress without intervening. People are continuing to leave Egypt beacuse of the discrimination and violation against them.

    Tess Raser’s discussion about her work with Libyan refugess in Sicily was also very interesting. I learned that there were different types of migration: local, circular, chain, and career. Circular Migration, which she did her study on, is the migration of people who find a destination by riding buses, walking, and hitchhiking. Raser also expressed her opinions on the governments need to clearly indicate who is a refugee and how they are defined. She believes immigration should be legal because so many people are continuously moving around. I wonder if this government reform on immigration would bring positive or negative effects to the country as well as how it would impact neighboring countries.

    Gabrielle Santoro focused on Moroccan immigrant’s significant role in Granada. It was particularly engaging that while many immigrants were unskilled citizens looking for jobs, a significant amount also immigrated to Granda to study at the university. One of the problems they face is freedom to practice their religion: cafeteria hours do not accommodate fasting hours. Furthermore, Elise Allan’s primary focus on the correlation between immigration and the media proved that media was definetly an essential element of progressive action. Facebook, youtube, blogs, and other forms of communication allow people to express their opinions freely and have their voices heard.

  7. I really enjoyed all the speakers different views with migration. Elise’s presentation on how media creates liberation was truly thought provoking. I had taken for granted how the media that almost everyone has available today such as Facebook, twitter, and youtube. People can speak their minds and have their voices heard with out it being manipulated. This reminded me of the how the resistance was maintained in Honduras by the young people who opposed the removal of President Mel Zelaya from office. People mobilized through Facebook and were able to keep the movement going.

    Another aspect of the series that I really enjoyed was Tess’s talk about the tensions that the Italians have with immigrants and even amongst themselves. The xenophobia that exists is incredible yet it shows that nationality can harmful affects especially when it goes above simply caring for refuges and immigrants that really do need the help.

  8. I really enjoyed the night’s presentations, and was especially interested by the consistency of migration problems that the presenters saw, despite the diversity of their abroad experiences. Although the individual groups they focused on had different reasons for migrating, (economic, political, cultural, etc), the general concept of their discontent in their homeland and challenges of their move remained the same. This movement of people, as one facilitator pointed out, has been going on since long before migration became such a significant political concern; people have been moving since even before the concept of boarders was instituted. Boarders and national identity have only added to the difficulty of migration, restricting people to their legal homeland, and the struggles that they encounter there, such as the economic issues in Egypt and racist governmental problems in Italy. These boarders have also created problems for Francophone African immigrants, and other such people that are not seen as truly belonging to their mother countries.
    The media is another modern contribution to the issues of migration. As presenter, Elise Allan, pointed out, the media can help facilitate the issues of migration through the CNN effect, or by bringing them to the attention of the public and eventually the government. This is increasingly true as the Internet and its social networks continue to grow, getting more people in touch, and providing them with new global information almost instantly. As this technology continues to progress it will be interesting to see how great a topic global migration becomes in the media, and to trace the effect it has on the challenges of global migration.

  9. The discussion on “The Challenges of Global Migration” was very informative as it discussed no specific culture but a variety of cultures that were similar and different in many ways. The presenters definitely seemed to have faced some hardships, be it with language or protests. Their presentations gave insight into these rich cultures and it was understood that these were first-hand experiences. As Nashrah Rahman mentioned, the scary incident during the football match was eye-opening and surprising that the military simply watched as people were getting beaten up. There seemed to be no intervention or “law” that was exercised. From Tess Raser’s discussion on migration in Sicily, I understood that there existed differences amongst sub divisions of a certain culture. It was surprising to learn about the tensions within the immigrants. Raser mentioned that there were 4 different types of migration: local, circular, chain, and career. Circular migration, which she did her study on, is the migration of people who find a destination by riding buses, walking, and hitchhiking. It was shocking to learn how people spent days walking aimlessly and hoping to reach a destination. She also spoke about how the EU should have a definitive law on migration. I am still confused as to what the EU’s stance is on migration. Just like her, I think they should make it legal to migrate because even with a law, a lot of people move around. I really enjoyed Elise Allan’s presentation because it spoke about the importance of media and communication in forming opinions and planting ideas in peoples heads in the current state of affairs. Allan eloquently described her experiences in France and Ecuador. However, the role of media in small countries that do not have access to the internet still remains unanswered. The CNN effect is something I would like to study and understand how it became a world wide phenomenon.

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