Session 1

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Friday, March 4th
9:30 AM

Performing Germanness: German Immigrant Identity in South Florida

Benjamin Augustyn, Florida International University

GC140, Modesto A. Maidique Campus, Florida International University

9:30 AM - 9:45 AM

South Florida continues to be a major tourist, business, and settlement destination for Germans to the U.S. since WWII. There are numerous German cultural institutions, including a German embassy, which supports many local cultural events, both in the German community and in other communities like the Jewish community. Most research on German immigrants to the U.S. is historical and focused on the major German migration wave of the 19th century, leaving the lack of research on recent immigrant populations from Germany recognized as a gap in the immigration literature (Gans 2014). Post-WII German identity is a complicated entanglement of historical negotiations and migrations, of pride and shame, with traces of post-colonial and diasporic identity formation centered around the concept of a defeated and occupied ‘evil’ Other. The research will assess how recent German immigrants have assimilated and perform their ethnic identity in South Florida where there are few old-stock German-American communities and a large Jewish population.

9:50 AM

Crisis at the Museum: Representing past and present migration at The Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration

Maria V. Barbero, Florida International University

GC140, Modesto A. Maidique Campus, Florida International University

9:50 AM - 10:05 AM

Crisis at the Museum: Representing past and present migration at The Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration

“During America’s peak years of immigration, business was never “as usual” on Ellis Island. Each period brought serious new crises that excited sensational publicity and reflected shifting national opinions that tested and ultimately redefined the immigration policy of the United States

The words above welcome visitors to the “Ellis Island Chronicles” exhibit at the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration in New York City. This third-floor exhibit is meant to take visitors through the history of the island and the various “crises” that ensued during its years as an immigration station. In this presentation, I analyze statist discourses on “crisis” as they emerge within and in relation to Ellis Island. As many scholars have argued, Ellis Island has become a key trope in U.S. narratives about nationhood and immigration (Behdad, 2005; Green, 2007). Indeed, the island and its history as an immigration station are regularly invoked by politicians at all levels of the political spectrum, often even in the service of opposing policy agendas. The centrality of this space in U.S. national imagination, as well as its status as part of the state-ran National Parks Service, makes an analysis of representations of “crisis” within and in relation to the museum quite useful for examining the ‘performativity’ of various forms of global “crises” at a national scale. This analysis comes during a time of significant change at the museum, which can perhaps be conceived as a different moment of “crisis.”

In May of 2015, two new exhibits were inaugurated at the museum. These exhibits are titled “Journeys: New Eras of Immigration. 1945—Present” and as the name suggests, they address immigration to the United States after the immigration station closed. These exhibits significantly expanded the scope of the museum, from one simply representing the history of a particular space, to one representing “the complete story of American immigration.” Indeed, these changes accompanied a significant name change, from the Ellis Island Museum to the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. These changes, however, by no means represent a ‘natural’ and ‘harmonic’ expansion of the museum’s initial goals to live up to the island’s broader symbolic meaning in national imagination. Rather, they are the end-result of a moment of “crisis,” during which the interests and visions of those involved—the museum staff, the National Parks Service, and the Ellis Island Foundation—clashed. By analyzing the changes at the museum as well as the historical underpinnings and contemporary characteristics of narratives of “crisis” at Ellis Island, this paper explores U.S. discourses on immigration and nationhood as they intersect with notions of “crisis” which are currently framing global discussions about the transnational movement of people.


Behdad, A. (2005). A forgetful nation: On immigration and cultural identity in the United States. Duke University Press.

Green, N. L. (2007, March). A French Ellis Island? Museums, Memory and History in France and the United States. In History Workshop Journal (Vol. 63, No. 1, pp. 239- 253). Oxford University Press.

10:10 AM

Forming modern subjectivities in the internal colony: Jewish women social scientists and their transracial, transdisciplinary and transnational networks, 1920-1965

Abby S. Gondek, Florida International University

GC140, Modesto A. Maidique Campus, Florida International University

10:10 AM - 10:25 AM

Jews in the first half of the 20th century were objects of internal colonization in addition to participating in research that served the colonial/imperial agenda of their nations. This archival dissertation will consider how the anti-racist and pro-political/economic justice stance taken by Jewish female anthropologists and sociologists may have been a way to fight anti-Semitism by “remote control,” or to try to understand their otherness through “the most other” utilizing their special concern for black and indigenous women to prove Jews were the epitome of modern national citizenship. I will interrogate how Jewish female social scientists (like women in imperialist projects during the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries and nationalist struggles during the two World Wars) proved their nationalist-imperialist belonging and “modern” subjectivities through their research with black and indigenous women. Instead of looking at individual “heroines,” perpetuating the myth of the “Lone Ranger” anthropologist, I use a feminist post-colonial approach to social network analysis to investigate the transracial, transdisciplinary and transnational networks between women theorists. My project follows the example of Lyn Schumaker (2001) who contends that fieldwork networks impact data collection, theory generation, and the re-formation of subjectivities.