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These days, whether you’re watching TV, scanning the latest headlines on Reddit or eavesdropping in line at Starbucks, the topic of global migration is unavoidable.
Across the globe, millions are fleeing violence, oppression and poverty in countries like Afghanistan, Somalia and — perhaps most notably these days — Syria, in what Carlos Velez-Ibanez calls an “unprecedented” migratory phenomenon.
“The entire world is moving, and it’s moving because of a combination of variables,” said the Arizona State University Regents’ Professor.
Those variables were the subject of a discussion between Velez-Ibanez and prominent anthropologist Shirley Ardener during a visit to the University of Oxford in England last year. From that discussion came the idea to host a conference to address the international concern.
“Transnational and Transborder Familial and Gender Relations: Comparing the Influence of Blurred and Brittle Borders” is the first collaboration of its kind between ASU and Oxford. The conference runs Sept. 23-25 at Oxford’s Lady Margaret Hall.
ASU’s School of Transborder Studies and Oxford’s International Gender Studies Center at Lady Margaret Hall make natural partners, as both are interdisciplinary institutions focused on researching and bringing awareness to the impact of policy on society at every level.
As Velez-Ibanez explains, by coming together for the “Transnational and Transborder” conference, participants from ASU and Oxford hope to accomplish a number of objectives including: coming to an understanding of the complexities of current global migration issues and the policies that need to be instituted to deal with them; the initiation of what could perhaps develop into a long-term relationship between the University of Oxford and ASU; and the possibility of some major publications of scholarly research on the subject.
“From my particular point of view, [this conference] is a biggie,” said Velez-Ibanez. “We’ve had never had a conference at this scale of diversity for reasons of human movement.”
Conference participants will explore how migration affects family reproduction, familial life cycles, social protection, inclusion and exclusion from welfare systems, the feminization of migration flows, the creation of engendered spaces and places, and the manner in which subsequent generations seek to develop their human potential.
At the conference, Velez-Ibanez will present his research, along with four other School of Transborder Studies faculty: Maria Cruz-Torres, who will present on “Women, Work and Migration in Northwestern Mexico”; Saskias Casanova, who will present on “The Other Mexicans: Perceived Discrimination, Gender and Ethnic Identity for Yucatec-Maya Adolescents in the U.S. and Mexico”; Francisco Lara-Valencia, who will present on “Juntos Pero No Revueltos: The Neighborhood Gap for Mexican Origin Immigrants in Greater Phoenix, Arizona”; and Airin Martinez, who will present on “The Recalcitrance of Borders in the Examination of Unauthorized Latina Immigrants’ Embodiment.”
Velez-Ibanez’s research paper — “Another Way of Looking at Things from the Prevailing Prisms, Continuity and Contiguity of the Southwest North American Region” — will explore how policies that are implemented without regard for the historical reality of the places they are to be enforced can, and often do, result in unintended consequences that create stress and tension for those living there.
In particular, his research will focus on Mexican-origin families and their respective communities, but the overall lesson and message of his research is applicable the world over.