Penn Arts and Sciences


The Origins of Migration Between Mexico & the U.S. (Laurencio Sanguino, SSPF Postdoctoral Fellow, with Jose Moya and Madeline Hsu)

Fri, 04/25/2014 - 2:00pm - 3:30pm

IN THIS POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW WORKSHOP, Laurencio Sanguino presents new work developed from his dissertation, "The Origins of Migration between Mexico and the United States, 1905-1945." The focus of his work this year has been Zamora, Michoacán, and its transformation into one of the most important migrant-sending communities in Mexico. Jose Moya (Barnard College) and Madeline Hsu (University of Texas, Austin) will comment on Sanguino's manuscript.

Bring a Policy Maker to Class


As part of ongoing efforts to foster policy-relevant social science research and teaching, the Penn SSPF announces its 2013-14 small grant program to encourage faculty to bring policy makers to meet their students, present their work in courses, and engage in dialogue and collaboration in the classroom. Faculty in all twelve of Penn's schools are eligible to apply for grants to defray the costs of a policy maker's visit to campus. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis. For more information on how to apply, and a list of winners click here

Yellow and Gold: The "Chinese Question" on the California and Victoria Goldfields (Mae Ngai)

Fri, 10/04/2013 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm

AS A FOLLOW-UP TO HER PARTICIPATION in the panel the night before, Mae M. Ngai will discuss her current work during this Friday workshop. This work examines the labor and social organization of Chinese miners and the racial politics surrounding the “Chinese Question” in California and the Australian colony of Victoria in the 1850s to the 1880s.  Although race relations on the goldfields have received relatively little attention, compared to the urban workingmen’s movements of the 1870s and 1880s, the Chinese Question in the early mining years was arguably foundational to anti-Chinese politics in both the U.S. and Australia.  Further, anti-Chinese politics has been discussed mostly in terms of discourse and policy, with little empirical understanding of the actual condition of Chinese miners’ work. We thus know much more about what whites thought about Chinese labor than about Chinese labor itself.  

One of the consequences of this disparity in the scholarship has been a persistence of the view, in U.S. labor and economic history, that Chinese miners (and labor in general) were indentured, bound by debt peonage, or otherwise enslaved by Chinese “custom.”  Ngai examines the genealogy of this view in U.S. historiography and suggests some reasons for its persistence; and, second, shows that it is at odds with the empirical evidence.  In fact, Chinese miners worked as independent prospectors, as partnerships, as members of egalitarian cooperatives, in small Chinese companies working on shares, and as waged labor for white-owned companies.  

This argument is made both through empirical research in U.S. mining census reports and the accounts of contemporary observers, and through a comparative and transnational approach. This methodology thinks about Chinese gold mining and racial politics in California and Victoria as Anglo-American settler colonies in the Pacific world.  It argues that Chinese mining practices and forms of social organization derived from southern China and circulated throughout the Pacific world, adapting to local conditions.  Further, in comparing American and Australian variations of anti-Chinese racism, it shows how racial thinking had little to do with the Chinese themselves, other than general ideological (Orientalist) disposition, and was shaped by local political context.

Mai Ngai is Professor of History and Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies at Columbia University, is a U.S. legal and political historian interested in questions of immigration, citizenship, and nationalism. She is author of the award winning Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (2004) and The Lucky Ones: One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America (2010).  Ngai has written on immigration history and policy for the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Nation, and the Boston Review. Before becoming a historian she was a labor union organizer and educator in New York City, working for District 65-UAW and the Consortium for Worker Education.  She is now working on Yellow and Gold: The Chinese Mining Diaspora, 1848-1908, a study of Chinese gold miners and racial politics in the nineteenth-century California, the Australian colony of Victoria, and the South African Transvaal.

Temporary Workers as Part of Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Problem or Panacea? (Hiroshi Motomura)

Fri, 02/21/2014 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm

MANY LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS for comprehensive immigration reform would not only revise immigrant admission categories, intensity enforcement, and offer legal status to unauthorized migrants, but also include a prominent role for temporary worker programs. Some critics of temporary workers view reliance on them as problematic, pointing especially to the underlying assumption that they are truly temporary. On the other side of the debate are those who view temporary workers as an essential to any effective response to unauthorized migration.  Drawing on his forthcoming book, Immigration Outside the Law, Motomura explores the roles that temporary workers might play in immigration reform and explain how disagreements about them illuminate key choices in responding to unauthorized migration. 

This program has been approved for 1.5 substantive law credit hours for Pennsylvania attorneys.  CLE credit may be available in other jurisdictions as well.  Attendees seeking CLE credit should bring separate payment in the amount of $25.00 cash or check made payable to "The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania."

Hiroshi Motomura is the Susan Westerberg Prager Professor of Law at the UCLA Law School. His book, Americans in Waiting: The Lost Story of Immigration and Citizenship in the United States (2007) won the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Award from the Association of American Publishers as the year’s best book in Law and Legal Studies, and was chosen by the U.S. Department of State for its Suggested Reading List for Foreign Service Officers.  One of his current projects is a companion volume, Immigration Outside the Law. Motomura is one of the co-founders and current directors of the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (RMIAN), and he serves on the Board of Directors of the National Immigration Law Center.

Indian Americans: The Life and Work of a New Immigrant Community (Devesh Kapur)

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm

PEOPLE OF INDIAN ORIGIN  – whether they are Indian-born or U.S.-born – make up well less than one percent of the American population.  Despite its small size, this community has been called a “Model Minority” that has been unusually successful in pursuing the “American Dream” through careers in high-skill occupations and entrepreneurship.  The talk focuses on four major themes in the immigration literature – selection, assimilation, entrepreneurship, and clustering – to analyze the specific characteristics of this community. Unlike most immigrant groups who enter the country at a disadvantage (relative to non-Hispanic Whites) and converge within a generation or two, the advantages of exceptional positive selection of Indian immigrants at the time of entry appears to be sustained through the next generation.

Devesh Kapur is Associate Professor of Political Science at Penn and Madan Lal Sobti Associate Professor for the Study of Contemporary India. He was appointed Director of the Center for the Advanced Study of India in 2006. Prior to arriving at Penn, Professor Kapur was Associate Professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin, and before that the Frederick Danziger Associate Professor of Government at Harvard. His research focuses on human capital, national and international public institutions, and the ways in which local-global linkages, especially international migration and international institutions, affect political and economic change in developing countries, especially India.

Kapur’s books include Diaspora, Democracy and Development: The Impact of International Migration from India on India (Princeton University Press, 2010) and, with John McHale, Give Us Your Best and Brightest: The Global Hunt for Talent and Its Impact on the Developing World (2006). He is the recipient of the Joseph R. Levenson Teaching Prize awarded to the best junior faculty, Harvard College, in 2005.

Learning Race in Newark (Ana Ramos-Zayas)

Fri, 12/06/2013 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm

Ana Ramos-Zayas will present "Transnational Urban Competencies: Affect, Race, and Neoliberalism among Brazilian and Puerto Rican Youth in Newark, Belo Horizonte (Brazil), and Santurce (Puerto Rico)."

DRAWING FROM ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCH conducted in public and private schools in Newark, NJ, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and Santurce, Puerto Rico, Professor Ramos-Zayas explore the intersection of affect, race, and neoliberalism in the lives of Brazilian and Puerto Rican youth.  She examines the ways in which U.S.-born Latinos and Latin American migrants learn race in the predominantly African American context of Newark, NJ and how these forms of racial learning compare to perspectives on race in countries of origin or ancestry.  The focus of Ramos-Zayas’ work is on how affect, the organization of feelings and sentiments, intersects with the everyday evaluations of racial difference and the ongoing process of “racial learning,” particularly among Latin American migrants and US-born Latinos. Ultimately, the goal is to understand the impact of capital on young people’s intimate experience of the material environment, and the way in which “race” is perceived, learned, and affectively understood under the intensifying regime of neoliberalism.

“Through quotidian observations, these young US-born Latinos and Latin American migrants assessed the interactive styles of African American women . . . There was a general sense that the emotional style of African American women was more difficult to commodify because of their presumed inability to hide temperamental outbursts, a quality that would render them unmarriageable and unemployable in most of the service-sector, customer-oriented jobs available to working-class women of color in Newark. . . . Nevertheless, young Latinos and Latin American migrants also acknowledged the importance of acquiring a form of racial knowledge that would enable them to better navigate Newark’s urban landscape.  They recognized that African Americans possess that desired form of ‘urban competency,’ and the modernity, hipness, and cosmopolitanism globally associated with Blackness.”
– From Street Therapists

Ana Ramos-Zayas is Valentín Lizana y Parragué Chair of Latin American Studies within the Black and Hispanic Studies Department (BHS) at Baruch College, CUNY.  She is currently working on the intersection of parenting practices, privilege, and affect in two wealthy Latin American/Caribbean neighborhoods: Ipanema (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) and El Condado (San Juan, Puerto Rico).  Up until now, her scholarship has centered on the intersections of race, space, and citizenship on poor or working-class neighborhoods in the U.S., but she now wants to break the tradition of "protecting" elites from ethnographic scrutiny and has decided to shift her research focus accordingly..

Ramos-Zayas has written three books including Street Therapists:  Race, Affect and Neoliberal Personhood in Latino Newark (2012); National Performances: Class, Race and Space in Puerto Rican Chicago and Latino Crossings: Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and the Politics of Race and Citizenship (co-authored); and Latino Crossings: Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and the Politics of Race and Citizenship.

Immigration and the Housing Market, 1980-2020 (Dowell Myers)

Fri, 11/01/2013 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm

IMMIGRANTS ARE AN IMPORTANT AND GROWING SOURCE OF DEMAND that has bolstered housing markets in recent decades, Professor Myers argues, as housing demand has been more stable among foreign-born than native-born households. And as the housing market continues its recovery, it is important to understand the demographic trends which are likely to affect housing demand in the years ahead.  In presenting our best understanding of these trends projected to 2020, Myers will draw on his recent report, Immigrant Contributions to Housing Demand in the United States, prepared with John Pitkin and sponsored by the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Research Institute for Housing America (RIHA), as well as related work. 

Rooted in the demographic approach to housing that calculates demand as occupied units, projections are developed that build on observed regularities of temporal structure. Aging leads to predictable rates of selling or outmoding, and immigrants supply a growing share of the replacements among both owners and renters in the housing market.

"Foreign-born ownership demand comprised the majority of all growth in homeownership in the established gateway states of California and New York. From 2000 to 2010 immigrants accounted for 82.2 percent and 65.1 percent, respectively, of the growth in homeowners in those states. In that decade immigrants also accounted for the major share of net growth in owner households in Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Ohio and Michigan. . . . Foreign-born homeownership demand rose most dramatically in the newer destination states. For example, in Georgia and North Carolina, immigrants accounted for 34.1 percent and 24.8 percent, respectively, of the growth of homeowners from 2000 to 2010. These shares are nearly triple immigrants’ shares of homeowner growth of the 1990s in those states, 12.8 percent and 8.8 percent, respectively."
– From Immigrant Contribution to Housing Demand

Dowell Myers is Professor of Policy, Planning and Demography in the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California and Director of USC’s Population Dynamics Research Group. He is a demographer and urban planner who integrates quantitative evidence with interpretations of problems and policy solutions. His research emphasizes the linkage of demographic data (census, surveys, and projections) to future trends in housing, workforce, education, taxpaying, voting, and immigration. He has been an advisor to the Bureau of the Census and authored the most widely referenced work on census analysis, Analysis with Local Census Data: Portraits of Change (Academic Press, 1992). His demographic work has included substantial emphasis on immigration, and his 2007 book, Immigrants and Boomers: Forging a New Social Contract for the Future of America, has been widely recognized. 

Recent research projects have focused on public narratives about immigration, aging, and taxation; projections of generational change in the U.S., California, and Los Angeles; and the upward mobility of immigrants the longer they reside in the U.S.  In all of his work, Myers seeks to create greater public understanding about pressing issues that affect our common future. He has been an academic fellow of the Urban Land Institute and a member of the Governing Board of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. He is also one of two recipients of the Haynes Award for Research Impact.

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