New Migration Patterns in the Western Hemisphere – Interview with Xóchitl Bada
Xóchitl Bada is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She studied sociology and political sciences in Mexico City, Notre Dame and Chicago. Her scholarship focuses on the civic, cultural, and political participation of Chicago-based Mexican migrant hometown associations. Her research interests range from immigrant access to political and social rights, Black-Latino relations, and transnational communities, to the intersections of migration and rural development through the civic participation of migrant-led organizations in Mexico and the United States.
Xóchitl Bada participates in the Explorative Workshop on the theme New Migration Patterns in the Western Hemisphere: Challenges for the New Century which is part of the strategic cooperation between the Forum Transregionale Studien and the Max Weber Stiftung – Deutsche Geisteswissenschaftliche Institute im Ausland. The workshop took place 13th to 14th Janurary in Berlin and was convened by Stephanie Schütze (Freie Universität Berlin, Lateinamerika-Institut).
In Germany and Europe, the topic of migration has been widely discussed in the media and politics for the last year at least. From a viewpoint of a researcher, why do you think is it important to talk about migration patterns now?
Due to the regional instability created in the aftermath of the 2010 Arab Spring and as consequence of protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, multiple destination countries in Europe and the Americas have experienced large flows of immigrants fleeing repressive regimes and violent civil wars in Egypt, Lybia, and Syria among other countries with large numbers of refugees. Researchers need to pay very close attention to new migration patterns to understand the decision making process of migrants and refugees. For example, we know very little about the international social networks that asylum seekers and economic migrants activate to maximize their opportunities for survival. We also need to understand immigrant integration process in comparative perspective. It is important to learn about the aspirations of migrants and refugees to produce useful information for policy makers interested in designing successful integration programs in destination countries for migrants and refugees. Finally, we have to observe similarities and differences between economic migrants seeking better employment opportunities and those fleeing wars and state violence.
Your research focuses on Mexican migration and migrant participation in the US. The workshop in Berlin will bring together migration specialists from the Americas and Europe. What is the advantage of studying migration in a transregional approach and with an international research group?
It is very important to establish dialogue opportunities among migration researchers focusing on different geographies to uncover similarities and differences among migrant groups from the same nationality established in different destinations. Context of reception matters to understand successful immigrant integration processes. What are the best local, regional, and state practices that different countries have adopted to foster immigrant incorporation in receiving societies? What are the best practices to promote skill transfers among refugee populations? What are the characteristics that distinguish migrant civil societies in Europe and the Americas? What are the similarities in the experiences of Syrian refugees attempting to reach Europe to escape a civil war and the experiences of Central American and Mexican immigrants fleeing crime, violence, and economic concerns? By addressing these questions using a transregional approach with an international research group, we will be able to produce cross-pollination of ideas and geographical perspectives to broaden the scope of our research agendas. After learning from many interdisciplinary perspectives, we would be able to design meaningful and methodologically adequate comparisons among different immigrant groups and contexts of reception.
What do you expect from the exchange with your colleagues from the US, Mexico and Germany?
I am expecting to create long lasting interdisciplinary collaborations that will produce new methodological approaches to better understand the multiple dimensions of international human mobility across geographical boundaries.
Your working group is planning a larger project of collaboration on the subject of transregional migration patterns. Could you say some words about the longer perspective of your collaboration?
This working group is combining the interdisciplinary expertise of young, mid-career, and senior migration scholars from Mexico, Germany, and the United States. Our main objective is to establish a 3-5 year research collaboration aimed at conducting original data collection to map continuities and changes in migration patterns in the Western Hemisphere. We plan to publish our findings in several publications for different audiences in three languages including journal articles, policy reports, and at least one edited volume. We also have plans to organize outreach and dissemination events to share our results with general audiences and policy makers in the three countries.
Questions: Alix Winter, Forum Transregionale Studien
Citation: New Migration Patterns in the Western Hemisphere – Interview with Xóchitl Bada, in: TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research, 06.01.2017 https://trafo.hypotheses.org/5716.