Anthropologists Studying Immigration in the United States

Anthropologists Studying Immigration in the US

Update: Many thanks to Alisse Waterston for including this post in her edited collection World on the Move: Migration Stories as her finale for Open Anthropology (Sallie Han and I are co-editors for 2015-2017). Check out the resources on anthropologists studying immigration, and check out Waterston’s new book My Father’s Wars: Migration, Memory, and the Violence of a Century.

This post from May 2013 is part of a series on teaching Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology. Other posts in the series include:


Anthropologists Studying Immigration in the United StatesIn 2013 a comprehensive immigration reform bill passed the US Senate. We heard from political hacks masquerading as academics. We heard from ideologues masquerading as law-makers. We could have heard more from anthropologists studying immigration.

Anthropology combines statistics and big-picture research with ethnography and detailed examination. Here are some anthropologists studying immigration who immediately come to mind. Ready for the Sunday morning talk-show circuit! And in addition to these anthropologists, see the follow-up Immigration Reform: Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Unlike on issues of gun reform, where as Hugh Gusterson points out in Making a Killing there was not much anthropological expertise, anthropologists have been directly studying immigration for many years. In 2011, the American Anthropological Association issued a General Statement on Immigration.

I have been relatively surprised–and this comes as a follow up to the Call for Posts on Immigration–to not see more of the anthropologists studying immigration in the news. The only example I have seen is the article on desert migrants. It may be that anthropologists are working more in behind-the-scenes efforts, such as Josiah McC. Heyman’s work with community organizations as well as Jane Henrici with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. In any case, here are some great resources to get started with an anthropology on immigration, and I hope this can be a goal for Public Anthropology.

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