Today! Global Mobility and Its Human Dimensions – Exhibit Opening

Today is the opening of  “Global Mobility and Its Human Dimensions” at The Global Gallery in Hagerty Hall.  This exhibition is a collaborative effort of the Global Mobility Project and the Departments of Design and Comparative Studies.

The exhibit opening will be on March 20, 5:00-6:00pm and will feature performances by OSU students.

Opening remarks by Dean David Manderscheid, Executive Dean, College of Arts & Sciences, and Peter Hahn, Divisional Dean, Arts & Humanities.

Undergraduate research grant recipients and their mentors will be recognized.

Light refreshments will be served.

TWAIN SHALL MEET…German Chancellor Angela Merkel greets students at the Sophie Scholl school during a visit on the fifth European Union school project day on May 16, 2011 in Berlin, Germany. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Why do people leave home? How do people adjust to new communities once they arrive? Migrants of all backgrounds share commonalities in their experiences. Nevertheless, each individual’s experience is unique and personal. This exhibition explores and complicates the notion of mobility as a singular experience by presenting a series of images and graphics that depict the goals, aspirations, difficulties, setbacks, and successes of migration.

Refugees cheer as they cross the border arriving from Hungary to Nickelsdorf. Photo: EPA

Migration is often portrayed as something foreign and distant, yet most of us share the experience of leaving home and starting a new chapter at The Ohio State University.  Our community is shaped by the stories and influences of migrants to Columbus. We believe that in highlighting commonalities, this exhibition can provide connecting pieces that start conversations between diverse experiences here in Columbus and around the world.  We hope that reflecting on others’ journeys can offer insight into our own relationships to home and to the lives of people we interact with every day.

The Global Mobility Project is an OSU Arts and Humanities Discovery Theme Pilot Project which integrates the arts, humanities, and social sciences to facilitate both a conversation and an investigation of how local culture and individual decision-making inform and reflect the complex global forces behind mobility.

This exhibit was conceptualized by Ece Karaca and Sarah Craycraft and produced by Abhijit Varde, Assistant Director (CLLC), in consultation with The Global Mobility Project, an Humanities & Arts Discovery Theme pilot program.

The Question of Refugees: Past and Present

by Peter Gatrell

This article was originally published on Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective, created by the History Departments at The Ohio State University and Miami University. Professor Gatrell recently spoke as part of our Immigrants and Refugees: Comparative Experiences Lecture Series.  You can watch his lecture here.

A great deal of ink—and much blood—has been spilled during the current “refugee crisis.” But what do we mean by that phrase?

It describes what has happened recently when Syrian, Afghan, and other refugees attempted the difficult journey to member states of the European Union in their ongoing search for safety. By extension, it describes the response of governments and the media to the refugees on Europe’s doorstep, a response many call inadequate.

The desperation of these refugees and asylum seekers and the challenges they face should not be minimized. But the shorthand of “refugee crisis” (meaning, in effect, “a crisis for European states,” rather than a crisis for refugees) neglects two fundamental issues.

One consideration is that, since 2011, most Syrian refugees either remain in Syria as internally displaced persons outside the scope of international legal conventions, or have found shelter in adjacent states such as Turkey and Lebanon.

Likewise, Afghan refugees are mainly sheltering in Pakistan: only a minority attempt the hazardous journey to Europe.

Continue reading on the Origins website.

OSU History

The Current: Implicit Bias

Thursday, March 16, 7:00pm.

Location: Bexley Public Library – 2411 E. Main Street, Bexley, Ohio 43209

Join the Bexley Public Library for a talk about Implicit Bias.

“What is Implicit Bias? How can you recognize and guard against it? On Thursday, March 16, we will welcome Robin Wright from The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity to help us better understand this significant issue facing our world today. This is offered in partnership with Bexley City School District, City of Bexley, Ohio, and Capital University.”


Migration Studies Working Group Symposium

The Migration Studies Working Group at OSU would invite everyone interested in migration to join them for the first Migration Studies Symposium at The Ohio State University on April 7th (11.45am-4.30pm), organized by The Migration Studies Working Group. The symposium will be held at 18th Ave Library, Room 070, 175 W 18th Ave, Columbus, OH 43210.


This event is free and open to all. Refreshments and lunch will be provided. Please RSVP by March 22 by participating in the survey.


The Migration Studies Working Group is an interdisciplinary graduate student-led and founded organization which aims to create an inspiring and productive interdisciplinary environment for a range of migration studies scholarship at The Ohio State University.


La Pirogue: the Myth of Europe and the Realities of the Journey

by Eleanor Paynter, PhD Student, Department of Comparative Studies

La Pirogue (dir. Moussa Touré, 2012), screened by Global Mobility at the Wexner Center for the Arts on March 1, is, in many ways, about a gamble: 31 people sail from Senegal to the Canary Islands in a fishing vessel not meant for the open sea. La Pirogue recounts migration as not only the traversing of physical space, but as an internal journey as well. We learn the different motivations and hopes of nearly each migrant on board and watch as they are threatened by discord and by the sea itself. At the same time, La

Pirogue reminds us of what Douglas Massey and other migration scholars enunciated in the early 1990s: that the movement of a single person across a border always involves a larger network. Although most of this story unfolds within the tight quarters of the pirogue, any attempt to map the narrative would result in a many-threaded web reaching far beyond the boat itself – or Senegal or Spain. Some on board hope to reach relatives in France; once settled, they plan to bring over their spouses and children. They are motivated by stories of musical and athletic stardom, economic success, medical treatment, and employment. The film poignantly loads the Goor Fitt (“man of courage”) with its 31 passengers, rations of rice, a back-up engine, and these narratives.



A stunning screenshot from the film. The solidarity of 31 Africans, fleeing to Spain in a canoe, is tested once they run into trouble.

One of the most striking lines in La Pirogue comes near the beginning of the film, as the wife of protagonist Baye Laye suggests that he not leave Senegal for Spain because “Europe is going through a crisis,” a reference to the 2008 economic crisis and its global effects. It’s compelling to consider the shift of context that has occurred between the making of La Pirogue, in 2012, and of Gianfranco Rosi’s Italian documentary Fuocoammare (Fire at Sea) just four years later, shown by the Global Mobility Project in January. Over the last two years, of course, Europe has been said to be undergoing another crisis, one marked by the arrival of more than 1.3 million migrants in 2015 and several hundred thousand since.

Global Mobility Project team member Vera Brunner-Sung and Associate Professor in History Ousman Kobo

At the March 1 viewing, discussion of La Pirogue included comments to contextualize the narrative in light of Senegalese political and economic history, as well to put it in conversation with Fuocoammare. This discussion was led by Vera Brunner-Sung, Global Mobility faculty member and Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre, and Ousman Kobo, Assistant Professor in the History Department and scholar of West African history. Prof. Brunner-Sung drew our attention to the theme of “the losing bet,” introduced in the wrestling match of the first scene. Prof. Kobo suggested that the film is commenting not only on migration, but on religious tensions in Senegal; within the microcosmic society in the boat, passengers argue over rituals and rites involving Muslim prayers or the placement of a talisman.

The pairing of La Pirogue with Fuocoammare provoked conversation about narrative perspectives, and about hope. Rosi’s recent documentary portrays the arrival of asylum seekers to the Italian island of Lampedusa; although it does not focus on individual migrant narratives, it does emphasize their rescue and entrance into EU territory. Touré’s 2012 film instead depicts the intimate narrative of a group of migrants as they prepare for and set out towards Europe on a journey which not all survive.

This pairing and the discussion with Profs. Brunner-Sung and Kodo also reminded those of us in the audience that although Baye Laye’s story is fictional, it is based on the migration of thousands of young men in just such vessels over at least the last decade, and many of these journeys end in tragedy. A note at the end of the film states that at least 5,000 of the 30,000 migrants who attempted this voyage from West Africa prior to the making of this film did not survive. As Prof. Kodo remarked, “This is the reality of our time.”

Viewers left the theater quietly, many of us still taking it in.


Refugee Advocacy Training


LIVE! Check out Refuge’s Refugee Advocacy Training in partnership with Central Ohio Solidarity with Refugees & Immigrants!! Livestreamed on Facebook and Recorded Live by Zakria Farah on Saturday, March 4, 2017

On Saturday, March 4, Central Ohio Solidarity with Refugees & Immigrants and REFUGE Livestreamed a talk about the vetting and resettlement process in Columbus and how people can help local refugees.


Visualizing Two Centuries of Immigration in the United States

Metrocosm, started by Max Galka, is a collection of maps and other data visualization projects — trying to make sense of the world through numbers.  Last year, they made a map visualizing two centuries of immigration to the United States.

“From 1820 to 2013, 79 million people obtained lawful permanent resident status in the United States. The interactive map below visualizes all of them based on their prior country of residence. The brightness of a country corresponds to its total migration to the U.S. at the given time.”

Learn more about the data behind this map on the Metrocosm website or click here


But pattens are nothing without context.  In this video, The Daily Conversation provides some context behind these immigration patterns.

Global Bexley: “Where are you from? I’m from here.”

by Nikki Freeman

On February 16, the Global Mobility Project’s first community event, “Global Bexley: Making Home in Ohio” took place at the Bexley Public Library. OSU History professor Theodora Dragostinova facilitated a lively conversation among seven Bexley community members who all came from different parts of the world such as Great Britain, Uruguay, Iran, and the former Soviet Union.

Dr. Dragostinova, being from Bulgaria herself, opened the discussion with two major questions that guided the night’s conversation: How did you leave your home? And how did you decide to make a new home in Bexley? Each moved for different reasons which ranged from accepting new and exciting work opportunities to escaping political and religious persecution.

Making a new home in Bexley was not easy for everyone, and the panelists shared personal anecdotes about the trials and tribulations of everyday life. One woman (a Jew from the former Soviet Union) had to learn English for the first time as an adult so took night classes at a local high school. Another woman (a follower of the Bahá’í Faith from Iran) shared a funny story about trying to make an “American friendly” spaghetti dish when her son had a friend over for dinner.  These individual stories highlighted the personal struggle of adjusting to a new community.

Although the panel tried to avoid talking about politics, President Trump’s recent executive order on immigration was obviously on everyone’s mind.

I believe that conversations like this one are incredibly important in today’s political climate. We must bring neighbors face-to-face with each other and encourage people to share their experiences thereby illuminating how international diversity enriches both the local and national communities.

Questions of Refugee Deservedness

This article, written by one of our Grad Student Affiliates, was originally published in Anthropology News.  

by Kelly A. Yotebieng
Society for Urban, National, and Transnational/Global Anthropology

The Anthropologist as an Ally

As anthropologists of forced migration, we are used to being kept on our toes as the nature, causes, consequences, and policies that enshroud forced migration are constantly fluctuating. When I returned to Cameroon for ethnographic fieldwork after over a decade living in the region as a humanitarian professional, I came with the intention of working with a large and growing population of Central African refugees. When I had last left Cameroon a year earlier in 2015, this population was growing rapidly, and garnering the attention of the world, or at least those of us who pay attention to forced migration in Africa. However, in the midst of my research over the summer of 2016, I found a Rwandan community silently struggling with the invocation of a Cessation Clause, built into the 1951 Geneva Convention, for all Rwandan refugees who arrived in asylum countries prior to 1998 and who had not been resettled. They feared this clause would cause the majority to lose their refugee status at the end of 2017. As many had hedged their bets on resettlement, they were at a loss of what to do next, after decades of waiting, and what now felt like rejection of the very foundation of their fears of returning home. Intrigued, I shifted my focus.

Continue reading…