November 2011

We live in an era of unprecedented globalization and international migration in which diaspora engagements with their homelands are becoming increasingly important. The concept of generations has been fundamental to the scholarly understanding of immigrant experiences. But analyses, to date, have focused mainly on contrasts between the experiences of generations conceived in terms of intra-family dynamics, namely between the foreign-born and their offspring born where they resettle.

Analyses also have focused, in the main, on immigrant experiences in the US. Left undocumented and unexplained are major differences in adaptation among first-generation immigrants, from different countries and from any one country, who uprooted at different times with different pre-migration experiences and different perspectives on life so formed.

Our proposed seminar is designed to improve the understanding of immigrant adaptation by advancing a new, theoretically and historically grounded conceptualization of generations that addresses how, and explains why, immigrants around the world with different pre-migration experiences adapt to their new country in distinctive ways, and relate differently to their homelands from where they resettle.

We plan to invite a small group of US and international scholars from different social science disciplines with different country diaspora expertise (including on Cubans, Iranians, Russians, Chinese, Indians, Croatians, and Somalis) to explore how our historically grounded conceptualization of generations might deepen the understanding of diaspora experiences.