The Global Studies Migrations Initiative asks how different forms of movement, mobility, and displacement might be studied beyond categorical and national boundaries in ways that take account of the shifting terrains that constitute migrations.

Movements across national borders and forms of mobility and displacement that take place within those borders are typically either conceived as wholly distinct or indistinguishable. Either approach makes it difficult to think rigorously about the diverse and often interrelated processes that influence peoples’ movements and the ways in which they deal with the challenges posed by boundaries of all kinds (national but also class, racial, historical…) and by increasing forms of precariousness. Further, this focus on the people who move often neglects the communities into which they move, obscuring the complex social dynamics that result from their movements. Through this initiative, we hope to draw attention to less visible forms of movement and displacement, such as gentrification, incarceration, professional relocation, and long histories of dispossession and to relate them critically to cross-border migrations and displacements.


November 29, 2018 - 12:30pm to 2:00pm

Elizabeth Rodrigues Fielder (Englihs, with responses from Bill Scott (English) and Mike Sell (IUP, English)

During the 1960s and 1970s, American minority artists involved in social movement activism produced work that would seek to revolutionize the relationship between art and politics. My book tells the story of the artistic side of organizing during the civil rights movement, what I refer to as cultural activism. Through performance and experimental media, creative production offered ways for people to debate political ideologies while still maintaining solidarity with the movement. I argue that internal dissent, rather than unity, shaped creative expression emerging from civil-rights-era social movements. The chapter I will workshop centers on the early plays of El Teatro Campesino, a collective ensemble that developed from the strikes and protests that would lead to the creation of the United Farm Workers of America. What began on the picket lines as actos on flatbed trucks became a touchstone for Chicanx/Latinx theater and performance art. Scholars overlook these early performances as didactic and simplistic; however, I argue that the actos go beyond simply performing oppression and were meant to provoke questions and debates about Chicanx identity. I place the actos within a larger theater history: the avant-garde theater scene in San Francisco that influenced El Teatro’s founder, Luis Valdez; political theater that recalled the Federal Theater Project and Soviet Blue Blouse Living Newspaper performances; and Brecht’s epic theater. I look at how El Teatro used performativity to explore the uncomfortable spaces between ethnic or cultural expression and working class solidarity. Using material from El Teatro Campesino’s archives, this chapter intends to present new readings that connect the group to other performance troupes of civil-rights-era cultural activism.

Course on Mobility and Displacement by Heath Cabot (Anthropology)

Th 6:00PM - 8:30PM

What does it mean to belong, or not to belong? What does it mean to be mobile? What is a home, a homeland, home country, or nation? How do experiences of migration, exile, and displacement shift one's understanding of home? Warfare, statecraft, and political violence, and recent environmental and social disasters, are giving rise to forms of belonging, mobility, and displacement that do not fit within traditional categories.  War and political violence destabilize national borders while reinforcing structures of power that bolster or mimic nation-state forms.  Environmental disaster and poverty cause displacements that cannot be classified purely in terms of either "economic" or "forced" migration, but produce composite categories which, as of yet, have no formal legal foothold, such as "economic" or "environmental" refugees. While popular culture often heralds the rise of multiculturalism in a globalized world, there are also alarming signals (surveillance, strategies of "profiling", increasing militarization of borders, and race-related violence) that suggest that ideas of blood and territory continue as powerful delineators of inclusion and exclusion.  This course asks how belonging, mobility, and displacement take shape amid political violence; global migrations of people, capital, and ideas; social inequalities; new forms of political organization and governance (international, grass-roots, supranational); and the continued dominance of nation-states.

Past Events:

Global Migration: The Case of the Volhynian Germans

Monday, November 5


History Department Lounge, 3703 Posvar Hall

Jan Musekamp will talk on migration schemes of a German-speaking group that used to live in Ukraine. After the 1880s, the worsening economic and political situation in the Russian Empire forced many of these people to move to other regions in the world, such as Siberia, Canada, Brazil or Germany. Eventually, Hitler's population policies put an end to German-speaking settlements in Ukraine, with the descendants scattered all over the world but still connected today.

Sponsored by: University of Pittsburgh's Global Studies Center,

The Invention of the Passport: Surveillance, Citizenship and the State

Thursday, November 1

5201 Posvar Hal

John Torpey will be discussing the new edition of his book The Invention of the Passport. Dr. Torpey is Professor of Sociology and History and Director of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies, CUNY.

Sponsored by: University of Pittsburgh's Global Studies Center,




University of Pittsburgh
Veronica Dristas
Veronica Dristas is the Associate Director of the Global Studies Center at the University of Pittsburgh.