Native/Immigrant/Refugee – Crossings Research Initiative

Who is a “native,” who is an “immigrant,” and who is a “refugee”? Refugees, immigrants, and indigenous peoples are typically constructed as separate categories within nation-states, and thus may be studied in relation to white “natives,” but rarely in relation to one another. Immigrants, indigenous people and refugees are conventionally imagined as communities with little in common. This collaborative research project thus tackles a new question: how do these communities intersect, and how do the fields of study focused on these communities intersect?

These categories that are presumed to be fixed are in fact contingent; this contingency is made visible when pressure forces one group to slip from one category to another. Take the asylum seeker who can either successfully gain recognition as a refugee or become an irregular migrant. This slippage can happen narratively, even while it does not happen legally. We could look to Puerto Rico, which as an unincorporated territory of the United States, exemplifies the geographic, legal, and narrative incorporation of populations who are selectively included or excluded, marginal populations whose status is not secure.

Location in some geographic spaces renders some populations particularly vulnerable. The pressures of climate change link Puerto Ricans with Sami in the Arctic Circle. That land and water can render one a refugee or force one to migrate suggests a revisioning of the refugee as a figure produced through political persecution or war; likewise, it challenges us to expand our framing of forces such as climate change to consider its relation to colonization, and geopolitics.

Our key questions ask how the legal and cultural construction of these three groups–the native, the immigrant, and the refugee–are not isolated discourses but are deeply entangled in the regulation of the other. How has immigration law understood refugees as an exception? How has immigration law understood native peoples? How have native nations policed borders, membership, and territorial presence of non-members? And how do cultural forms and practices, from literary works to indigenous drum circles at the airport welcoming refugees in the face of Trump’s ban on Muslim immigrants, reflect distinct epistemologies, experiences, and political claims that confound or confirm these legal understandings?

This research initiative has been generously funded by a Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society Faculty Cluster Research Grant and by grants from Critical Refugee Studies, the Peder Sather Foundation, Social Science Matrix, the Institute of International Studies, and the UC Humanities Research Institute.

Image above: Dynamic Earth – Ocean Currents, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Leti Volpp

Leti Volpp is the Robert D. and Leslie Kay Raven Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Director of the Center for Race and Gender.  She researches and writes about immigration law and citizenship theory.

 

 

 

 

Beth Piatote is an AssocBeth Piatoteiate Professor in Native American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is also an Affiliated Faculty member in the Department of Linguistics and in American Studies.  She is the author of Domestic Subjects: Gender, Citizenship and Law in Native American Literature (Yale 2013).

 

 

 

 

Fantasia Painer Fantasia Painter is a 4th year Ph.D. student in Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley and a new Researcher for the Native/Immigrant/Refugee: Crossings Research Initiative in the Center for Race & Gender (CRG). She is also a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow, a Joseph A. Meyers Center for Research on Native American Issues Fellow, and a member of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRP-MIC).

 

 

 

 

Ryan RhadiganRyan Rhadigan is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Rhetoric with a concentration in Critical Theory. He received a Master’s degree in American Indian Studies from UCLA. Ryan’s dissertation research historicizes and contextualizes ongoing Native American rhetorical engagements with legal and technoscientific discourses by examining how archival technics have shaped the conditions of legibility for Native American epistemological claims.

 

 

 

 

Sarah DomenickSarah Domenick is a third year law student at UC Berkeley, where she is a Henderson Center Scholar. Sarah’s focus at Berkeley is on immigration law and policy, and she is currently a law clerk at the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at UC Hastings. She previously interned at the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant and at the East Bay Community Law Center’s Immigration Clinic. 

 

 


 

Bonnie Cherry Bonnie Cherry is a doctoral student at the University of California, Berkeley in the Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program. Before attending Berkeley,Bonnie worked as a grant writer and program coordinator at Haskell Indian Nations University Cultural Center, building cultural programming for Undocumented and Indigenous youth, as well as working with local nonprofits and tribal entities to address jurisdictional gaps in the Violence Against Women Act for women on reservations.

CURRENT AND PAST FUNDERS


AWARDS

2020 Peder Sather Grant Program Awards
Native/Immigrant/Refugee: Immobility and Movement Across Contested Grounds (2nd Phase)
Norway: Christine M. Jacobsen, University of Bergen (UiB)
UC-Berkeley: Leti Volpp

NIRCRI was awarded a second grant for continued collaborative research between Berkeley and Christine Jacobsen, Director of the Centre for Women’s and Gender Research (SKOK) and her research team at the University of Bergen, Norway.

2019 Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research ORU Seed Fund Grant
The “Native/Immigrant/Refugee: Crossings Research Initiative (NIRCRI)” received a $50,000 multi-year grant from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research through a ORU Seed Fund competition.

2019 UCHRI Conference Grant
NIRCRI was awarded a UCHRI Conference Grant to provide funding for the “Native/Immigrant/Refugee: Movements Across Contested Grounds,” symposium that was scheduled for spring 2020.

2018 Institute of International Studies Faculty Grant
A grant from the Interdisciplinary Faculty Program of the Institute of International Studies supported the research initiative’s ongoing faculty conversations, and will also assist in bringing distinguished visitors to campus who will speak to the theme of how these three communities and concepts converge, displace, and shape each other.

2018 Peder Sather Grant Program Awards
Native/Immigrant/Refugee: Crossings and Divides (1st Phase)
Norway: Christine M. Jacobsen, University of Bergen (UiB)
UC-Berkeley: Leti Volpp

A grant from the Peder Sather Center enabled collaborative research between Berkeley and Christine Jacobsen, Director of the Centre for Women’s and Gender Research (SKOK) and her research team at the University of Bergen, Norway.

2018 Social Science Matrix Research Team Grant
NIRCRI was funded as a Social Science Matrix Prospecting Team titled  “Native/Immigrant/Refugee: Crossings and Divides.”  The funds will enable the Prospecting Team to examine how these communities and concepts converge, displace, and shape each other.

2018 Critical Refugee Studies Collective Faculty Grant
Project: The Native, the Immigrant, the Refugee: Confluences and Divides
Beth Piatote & Leti Volpp

The Critical Refugee Studies Collective provided additional seed funding for the Native/Immigrant/Refugee: Crossings Research Initiative.

2018 Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society
A grant from the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society provided seed funding for the Native/Immigrant/Refugee: Crossings Research Initiative.