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The Anthropology of Migration in North America  

Department: Anthropology

Instructors: David Lindstrom
Instructors' Emails: 
Prerequisites: none 
Schedule: TBD

Course Description

Migration in North America touches everything—people, governments, consciousnesses, land, and power. Therefore, by studying migration we come to understand many forms of human experience: why people move, how migrants view human movements and themselves, and how identities, economic circumstances, and human experiences move and change across landscapes within North America—in particular, the San Diego region. In class, students will collaboratively read and discuss important works in the anthropology and global sociology of migration, with particular emphases on publications that are about the San Diego region. We will also discuss works from other genres, including first-person narratives, contemporary artworks linked to migration, and analyses of how the judicial system interacts with migration. As a result of this wide focus, students with interests in migration will be exposed to numerous academic subject areas and career paths that intertwine with the lives of migrants and refugees.

Course Goals / Learning Objective

Students will develop understandings of the migration histories of Central America, Mexico, and the United States; bring together key methods and debates within the anthropology and sociology of migration; examine findings within the literature; and propose implications for present and past research. Students will also gain familiarity with the many academic disciplines and occupations that work with and on behalf of migrants.

Students will also gain efficient reading and note taking skills, confidence speaking in small groups, aunderstandings of academic disciplines and communities, familiarity with peer reviewed articles within the social sciences, and the ability to craft effective arguments that employ multiple forms of evidence for academic readers.

Course Topics

  • (Brief) Regional history of Central America and Mexico
    • Colonialism
    • Civil wars in Central America (mid-1970s-early 1990s)
    • The neoliberal period in Central American and Mexico (early 1990s-present)
    • Gang violence
    • Presentations of migration as a security problem
  • (Brief) History of migration in the Americas
    • Racialized migration policies within the Americas
    • S. involvement with human displacement in Central America
    • Environmental damage and human displacement in Central America
    • The Department of Homeland Security as a historical and political institution
    • Family and minor migration
    • Refugee caravans
  • Sociology and Migration
    • Migration networks
    • Refugee migration
    • Migration and the law
  • Anthropology and Migration
    • Migration and identity
    • Migration and freedom/agency
    • Theories of violence
    • Refugee migration
    • Testimonial Literature
  • Additional Types of Knowledge
    • Critical refugee studies
    • Ethics of scholarship


*Courses vary by experience and exposure to content. Instructors have the ability to change content and pace to serve the needs of students. Courses have been modified for online teaching.