By Nikki Freeman, PhD Candidate in History
Displaced children and incomplete families were a major international concern among governments, nations, and humanitarian organizations in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. My dissertation studies the rehabilitation, care, and education of Jewish children after the Holocaust in Poland and the US Zone of Allied-occupied Germany. I specifically focus on children’s centers, orphanages, schools, and summer camps as transnational sites where competing relief organizations and Zionist youth movements aimed to influence the future of Jewish life on the local level. Thanks to funding from the Global Mobility Project, I was able to spend three weeks at the Center for Jewish History in New York City conducting archival research for my dissertation.
During my time at the Center for Jewish History, I was particularly interested in learning more about Jewish infiltree children. In 1946, the US Zone in Germany received an influx of Jewish refugees, known as “infiltrees,” who fled from postwar antisemitism in Eastern Europe. I read one archival report that estimated that 76,924 infiltrees entered the US Zone between June and November 1946. Of that number, 13,878 were children. It is important to note that the majority of Jewish infiltree children were from Poland. Their wartime experiences can be divided into three categories. The largest group were children who fled with their parents to central Soviet Union or western Ukraine in September 1939. Then at the end of 1939 or early 1940, they were transported to Siberia. The second group were Polish Jews who lived in the area invaded by the German army in September 1939, but then were ceded to the Soviet Union and occupied by the Red Army. Finally, the third group were Jews who could not escape and stayed in Poland. Some were sent to ghettos and concentration camps while others hid on the Aryan side or in the woods with partisans.
In 1946, approximately 2,458 unaccompanied infiltree children entered the US Zone usually in kibbutz groups. They were organized under the care of youth leaders known as madrichim. Each kibbutz had its own political, social, and religious philosophies and teachings. They came to Germany with the intention of eventually immigrating to Palestine. The Child Welfare Division of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) accepted responsibility for providing care for unaccompanied Jewish infiltree children in the US Zone. They coordinated with the Jewish Agency for Palestine, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and the Central Committee for Liberated Jews. Archival documents suggest that this was not an easy task, and they encountered many problems.
For example, many unaccompanied infiltree children were not orphans. In fact, many had one or even both of their parents. Jewish families gave up their children to kibbutzim for many reasons. Unaccompanied children received better care and provisions, and they were given priority to leave Poland sooner. Once they reached the US Zone, they temporarily stayed at a reception center and then transferred to a more permanent children’s center. According to one report by Susan Pettis (child infiltree officer of UNRRA), this caused further problems because when the families learned that their children were not going to move immediately through Germany, they began appearing at centers to claim the children as their own. Pettis wrote that the Jewish children experienced emotional conflict because they had become attached to the kibbutz. It was also difficult to prove the relationship between the child and relative. In other cases, these children were under a lot of pressure from the Zionist youth movements and did not really want to go to Palestine. UNRRA had to intervene and remove the child in these particular situations because they believed “a child’s wishes should be recognized.” My larger project exposes tensions between these competing organizations and youth movements that all claimed to have the child’s best interests in mind.
Receiving the Global Mobility Project grant allowed me to finish an essential portion of my doctoral research in the US, and now I am able to focus on my archival research in Europe. I look forward to sharing my research in the near future at academic conferences.
by Carolin Mueller, PhD student in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, The Ohio State University
The recent influx of refugees to Germany lead to renewed discussions of how the “integration” of ethnically diverse actors is understood, practiced, and organized in German host communities, where national identities are highly contested. In 2014 PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West), a nationalist, anti-Islam, far-right protest movement, emerged in Dresden, and caused a range of debates about the social inclusion of migrants. In response to nationalist claims, NO-PEGIDA counter-protest engaged in the cross-lingual and cross-cultural production of art to explore coping mechanisms for the impacts of global mobility. This summer I spent time in Dresden, exploring one of the most significant examples of this development, the musician collective “Banda Internationale” to understand the impacts of their efforts on community-building through the arts.
My research was guided by questions such as: What spaces were made available to migrants through community engagement through music? What impact did incoming band members have on intergroup interactions? What forms of artistic expression were explored, developed, or merged? And, what passageways does music offer to come to terms with culturally-different forms of expression?
These questions helped me reflect on the recorded concerts. At the TFF in Rudolstadt in July, the opening performance allowed me to observe how the instrumentalists occupied spaces for individual and ensemble performances:
The qanun interrupts the cheering by quickly clicking on the high notes. While it carefully sounds out the distances of the concert space, the kalimba joins trotting out of the silence in deep tunes.
The kalimba hits different tones.
How far does it travel?
Deep electronic outcries,
People pouring in,
And sonic signals reflected from the body of the audience.
The drumsticks interrupt.
An attempt to disturb the kalimba’s melancholic journey?
There is not much time to further think about this question. The saxophone begins to breathe deeply: in and out, long and deep. The cymbals are slightly brushed. the breath is deepened even more.
The qanun jumps back in, tickling the saxophone.
back and forth
sounding the chirping of crickets, while the saxophone breathes on.
As the saxophone feels out the concert space, the other instruments seem to be jumping over the heads of the people in the audience who are standing or bouncing their bodies to the sound.
The rattle sets in
The bass drum gets louder.
As the frequency of the sound augments, the drum sets in. The niches taken up by the individual instruments get smaller and smaller. I feel overwhelmed by the clicking and the clacking, the breathing, and the ambience of the space filling with a range of different instrumental voices. I hear the qanun and rattle chasing each other around my ears, flying of the stage, through the branches of the trees and back. Their run is interrupted by the dark and slow bouncing of the saxophone, which tries to calm the lively crowd. But the drum does not want to have that and protests the saxophone stomping loudly. In response to the competing voices at play, the tuba takes charge of the chaos and announces the starting point for the remaining orchestral body that has been quietly observing from the back.
Thanks to a graduate student grant from the Global Mobility Project, and the felicitous connection that I was able to establish to the Banda, I observed and recorded their performances at twenty concerts, conducted seven interviews with different band members, and attended several band practices to gain a better understanding of their work and community. Focusing my data collection on their performances, my analysis of the visual and audio material explores the interactions between performers, instruments, and their environment, the stage. Our conversations were often centered on how the instruments were able to communicate, which involved re-developing ways of communication among performers through different languages and play. Making music together stands as the primary goal for the band project, and allows for gateways to address questions of the inclusion of different voices at different stages of interaction.
I was invited to share this project’s preliminary findings at the Midwest Modern Languages Association Conference in Cincinnati. The conference, themed “Artists and Activism”, brought together faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, as well as artists to discuss the connections between arts-based expressions and social change. In a co-sponsored effort by the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, the School of Music and the Undergraduate Studies Committee in AAAS, I was able to arrange an artist exchange with Banda member Ezé Wendtoin who will be visiting Ohio State University March 18 – April 4 2018. By bringing Mr. Wendtoin to the Ohio communities, we hope to explore further impact of this project’s activist objectives in sharing their ways of community-building through the arts.
Jason “Timbuktu” Diakité presents A Drop of Midnight: Musical meditations on race, culture and identity.
Co-sponsored by the Global Mobility Project, Office of International Affairs, African American and African Studies, Comparative Studies, Germanic Languages and Literatures, Ethnomusicology Program.
Date: Tuesday, November 14, 1:00-2:30
Location: Enarson, room 160
On Tuesday, November 14th, 2017, at 1:00-2:30pm The Global Mobility Project will be hosting a roundtable on “Research Methodologies in the Study of Global Migration.” The discussion will feature OSU faculty members Yana Hashamova (Slavic), Robin Judd (History), Hannah Kosstrin (Dance), Arati Maleku (Social Work), Elizabeth Morgan Fitzgerald (Nursing/Latina/o Studies), and Ryan Skinner (School of Music/AAAS) and will be moderated by Theodora Dragostinova (History).
Please email email@example.com with any questions. Light refreshments available.
by Natalia Zotova, PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, The Ohio State University
Migration the US creates a lot of opportunities, but also bring challenges. Navigating the new social and cultural environment is not easy. Migrants need to adjust and address different problems in their daily lives, which causes stress and has implications for health. What does it mean to be Muslim immigrant in the US? How does Islamic religious identity and observance shape life trajectories of new countries’ residents? What are the health implications of Muslim immigrants, and specifically of Central Asian natives? The Global Mobility Graduate Research Grant gave me opportunity to address these questions by supporting my research in Chicago Metropolitan Area in September-November 2017.
Scholarship on religion and health indicate that stress among Muslim immigrants is intensified by experiences of discrimination, which negatively affects mental health. While studies on migration and health investigate stress, less attention is paid to the cultural context in which stress and coping occur. My research addressed the meaning and role of religion as a mediator of stress and mental well-being among Central Asian Muslim immigrants in Chicago Metropolitan Area. My work explored religious practices of Central Asian natives and culturally embedded stress responses through an ethnographic analysis of respondents’ narratives, completed with biological indicators of well-being (blood pressure, weight and height as secondary biomarkers of stress response), as well as self-administered mental health. That allowed to capture lived experiences of new immigrants to understand whether practicing Central Asian migrants have a stronger sense of mental well-being in the new social environment. During my time in Chicago, I conducted 5 informal expert interviews, 31 semi-structured interviews, as well as observations at mosques, Central Asian community gatherings and other social activities. The experts interviewed for this project included Central Asian community leaders and activists, academics at different universities of Chicago, as well as members of Muslim community centers.
While data analysis is in progress, some preliminary findings emerge. The influence of Islam differed between Central Asian immigrants due to the history of the region, development of Islamic communities and the secular pressures exerted by the Soviet Union and post-Soviet independence. While navigating new social environment, many informants became more religious during their stay in the US. Central Asians benefited from resources of Muslim communities, and settled in Chicago neighborhoods around other established Muslim groups. Connections with Turkish communities were of major importance. Central Asians were mainly not perceived as Muslims in their daily lives due to phenotype and lack of visual markers of religiosity (head scarf or beard). Practicing Muslims did not experience more discrimination than secular immigrants, unless they have visual markers of religious affiliation (head scarf or a beard). Major stressors producing adverse mental health outcomes were not religion-based. These stressors included migration-related factors such as insecurity, documentary status and work-related concerns. Recent immigrants (less than 3 years) had highest level of distress, which was likely to level up with the longer period of stay in the US.
This study pointed at a negative association between religiosity and mental health disorders. Religion buffered stress, and moderated negative health implications among Central Asian immigrants by providing meaning and hope. At the same time, Islamic religious identity did not help Central Asian immigrants to bridge their way to mainstream American society. Visual markers of Muslim religious identity informed stress around experiences of marginalization and discrimination. Providing comfort as well as resources, Muslim identity informed segmented assimilation (Portes and Zhou, 1993) trajectories for Central Asian immigrants in Chicago Metropolitan Area. Culturally embedded and gendered stress responses, stigma around mental health disorders, as well as structural barriers to accessing health care services left mental health problems among Central Asian immigrants unaddressed. Chronic stress linked to migration and marginalization in the new country might severe immigrants’ health and lead to development of chronic diseases in the future.
I was invited to share this projects’ preliminary findings and give a talk at the University of Chicago. The talk was sponsored by the Committee on Central Eurasian Studies, and brought together faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, as well as guests from Central Asian communities. Aiming to give back to Central Asian communities that I studied, I made a presentation on my experiences and findings at the Uzbek American Association of Chicago. I gratefully acknowledge support from the Global Mobility Project, which allowed me to conduct fruitful research.
The Global Mobility Project Podcast invites scholars from the Humanities and Arts to discuss their research about migration and mobility. The episodes are available on iTunes or by clicking on the links below.
Episode 4: A Chat with Tomislav Longinovic – On Monday, October 9, Yana Hashamova sat down with Tomislav Longinovic to discuss the migration of refugees through the Slavic route. They also discussed how migrants make a new home in their destination countries.
Episode 3: A Chat with Peter Gatrell – On Tuesday, January 24, 2017, Dr. Theodora Dragostinova sat down with Dr. Peter Gatrell, Professor of History at Manchester University, to have a chat about migration, immigration, and repatriation in Europe. In the discussion, Dr. Gatrell discusses the value that arts and humanities can have in discussing and understanding migration, as well as what happens when citizens relocate because of war or economic reasons and then return to their home country.
Episode 2: A Chat with Ulf Brunnbauer – On Tuesday, November 14, 2016, Dr. Theodora Dragostinova sat down with Dr. Ulf Brunnbauer, Professor of History of Southeast and Eastern Europe at the University of Regensburg, to have a chat about the other side of the migration debate, emigration and immigration in Europe. In the discussion, Dr. Brunnbauer discusses his work on the social history of the Balkans in the 19th and 20th centuries with a special emphasis in the historical genealogy and migration history.
Episode 1: A Chat with Ibrahim Sirkeci – On October 24, 2016, Dr. Jeffrey Cohen sat down with Dr. Ibrahim Sirkeci, Ria Professor of Transnational Studies and Marketing Regent’s University London, to discuss Turkey’s migrants and migrants from Turkey. They also discussed the role of the arts and humanities in addressing the global challenges of migration, what it means to leave home, and how communities accept newcomers.
by Lisa Beiswenger, PhD candidate in Anthroplogy
On October 10, 2017, Professor Tomislav Longinovic visited Dr. Cohen’s Anthropology 7805: Human Mobility: The Anthropology of Migration. In preparation for the visit, the students read Longinovic’s Vampire Nation: Violence as Cultural Imaginary. The discussion meandered through a variety of themes from popular culture, mythology, and politics.
Through the book, Longinovic explores the vampire as a metaphor, “pointing to the Gothic associations of violence, blood, and soil in the writings of many intellectuals and politicians during the 1990s, especially in portrayals by the U.S.-led Western media of ‘the serbs’ as a vampire nation, a bloodsucking parasite on the edge of European civilization” (Longinovic).
The class discussion began with a question about how refugees are treated in Serbia. While on the surface this question is simple, it actually has some deep cultural ties. First, some Serbians feel solidarity with refugees because they would also like to move to one of Europe’s wealthier countries. Second, stories of exile are written into the culture and thus tie into national identity. Finally, there are Biblical and mythological overtones at play: one must be hospitable because one never knows who the guest really is.
Next, the students discussed how the vampire myth ties into nationalism. Vampirism is the perfect metaphor for nationalism because it is the past consuming the future. The vampire does not consume the old and enfeebled; he eats the young, the healthy, and the intelligent. The vampire further exemplifies nationalism because of his ties to blood and soil. Myths of vampires spring up along the zones of cultural transition, the borders, where there is ethnic mixing – people who are not one or the other.
As the class concluded, we discussed how portrayals of vampires have changed over time. Early vampires are dust and dead bodies. It wasn’t until they were aestheticized by the Gothic imagination that they transformed into something attractive and graceful. Today, there is the “vegan” vampire (ex. Louis from Interview with the Vampire, Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Edward from Twilight), a vampire of remarkable beauty who can live indefinitely but who drinks from humans begrudgingly.
The Global Mobility Project at Ohio State (#GlobalMobilityOSU) funded by the Humanities and Arts Discovery Theme invites applications for our grants programs for research and creative work on the topic of global mobility. We shall consider research and creative project proposals on all aspects of mobility and migration, regardless of geographical, historical, or thematic focus. This semester, we are offering undergraduate/faculty mentorship grants (in collaboration with the Office of Undergraduate Research). Our next deadline for Undergraduate/Faculty Mentor Grants is November 13, 2017.
Please check the following CFPs:
Spring 2017 Grant Recipients
On Monday, October 9, Yana Hashamova sat down with Tomislav Longinovic to discuss the migration of refugees through the Slavic route. They also discussed how migrants make a new home in their destination countries. You can listen to the episode below or listen on iTunes.