Dr. Donna Gabaccia: “From Immigration History to Mobility Studies”

Location: CK Choi Building, Rm. 120

Once concentrated almost exclusively in North American departments of Sociology and History as the study of “immigration,” the production of knowledge about mobile people has over the past three decades both widened – spatially, temporally, and conceptually– and found new institutional homes across university disciplines. In her presentation, Donna Gabaccia will briefly survey the shift from studies of “immigration” to studies of mobility in the discipline of history. Her purpose, however, is not a disciplinary one. Instead, she uses the shift in attention from immigration to mobility to focus on a number of fundamental questions that have emerged simultaneously across disciplines. These questions focus on relationships among movements of people, ideas, and things and tensions between understandings of humans and their cultures as naturally sedentary or mobile and as bounded or fluid. These questions point in turn toward the necessity of new histories, historiographies, and genealogies of scholarship itself. Finally, a richer and more complex understanding of the scholarly origins of the contemporary moment in mobilities studies opens opportunities to ask how emerging concerns with populist nationalism and localist and indigenous movements may be working to re-shape disciplinary life and cross-disciplinary dialogue even as we engage with the study of mobility.

Donna Gabaccia is Professor of History at the University of Toronto and former Director of the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota. She has written and edited fourteen books and dozens of articles on Italian migration worldwide, on gender, class, labour and immigrant foodways in the United States, and on the global, comparative, and transnational methodologies useful for interdisciplinary study of international migration and mobility over the very long history of human life on earth.


Please RSVP here or contact jennifer.trieu@ubc.ca by Feb. 8th to register for this event.

This talk is co-sponsored by Green College, the Departments of French, Hispanic, and Italian Studies; Geography; Sociology; History; Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies; and the Institute for European Studies’ Migration & Diversity Speaker Series.