APSA Short Courses

Previous Short Courses are listed below the current description.

2022 APSA Short Course

The Methods Studio: Interpretive Methods in Studies of Belonging and Migration

Wednesday September 14, 2022, 9:00am-1:00pm

Palais des congrès de Montréal, Room 522A

Sponsor: Interpretive Methodologies & Methods (IMM) Group

Organizers: Rina Williams (Rina.Williams@uc.edu) & Crystal Whetstone (crystalwhetstone@gmail.com)

Short Course Chair: Dr. Michelle Weitzel

The Methods Studio Short Course has two parts: a workshop and an open panel discussion described below. The focus of this year’s workshop (Part I) is “Interpretive Methods in Studies of Belonging and Migration.” Following that, the open panel discussion (Part II) will entail a panel of experts in a range of interpretive methods, who will take questions over interpretive methods in works in progress. Scholars at any stage of their research are welcome to attend.

Part I

Workshop: “Interpretive Methods in Studies of Belonging and Migration”

Unpacking belonging, particularly in the context of migration, was practically made to be studied using interpretive methods. To make sense of the experiences of belonging and migration in an era rife with talk of a “migrant crisis” and so-called “illegal migrants” alongside a dramatic rise in nationalism, right-wing populism and white supremacy—and to see that these parallel movements are not a coincidence—takes careful introspection. How can interpretive methodologies and methods help scholars to understand the experiences of migrants, particularly their sense of belonging in their homelands and in their new locales? What does it mean to belong somewhere? Who is a migrant? Do connections between the “old” world and “new” world of a migrant ever sever? Where is home for migrants, even second, third or fourth generations who continue to be seen as not “real” citizens in their native-born countries?

(Registered participants can receive PDF copies of readings in advance of the Short Course by emailing the organizers, Rina.Williams@uc.edu or crystalwhetstone@gmail.com.)

Speaker 1: Dr. Yuna Blajer de la Garza, Loyola University Chicago

Dr. Blajer is a political theorist studying inequalities and oppression in democratic societies by focusing on the interactions between formal political institutions, the ideals that undergird them, and everyday practices and norms. In her first book manuscript, provisionally titled A House Is Not A Home: Citizenship and Belonging in Contemporary Democracies, Blajer addresses the interplay between the institutional and the everyday by examining the tension between citizenship and belonging in 21st-century democracies through the figure of the citizen who does not belong. The manuscript draws from insights gleaned through ethnographic fieldwork carried out in Paris and Mexico City between 2015 and 2017. Mexico and France illustrate two incomplete pathways toward democratic belonging. France boasts a strong state with a reliable bureaucracy that secures legal rights, while Mexico’s is beset by corruption, inequality, and inefficiency. The literature on state strength and democratization would expect France to fare better than Mexico in guaranteeing the equal standing of its members—and thus their equal belonging. Counterintuitively, Blajer finds that not to be the case.

References and planned course readings

  • Beaman, Jean. 2017. “Growing Up French? Education, Upward Mobility, and Connections across Generation.” Chapter selection from Citizen Outsider: Children of North African Immigrants in France. University of California Press.
  • Longo, Matthew, and Bernardo Zacka. 2019. “Political theory in an ethnographic key.” American Political Science Review4: 1066-1070.
  • Wedeen, Lisa. 2008. “The Politics of Deliberation: Qāt Chews as Public Spheres.” Chapter selection from Peripheral Visions: Publics, Power, and Performance in Yemen. University of Chicago Press.

Speaker 2: Dr. Osman Balkan, Swarthmore College

This part of the workshop will focus on power and positionality in ethnographic research. Participants will reflect upon how their own multiple social positions inform their ethnographies, from shaping the questions they ask, to the communities they engage with, to the data they collect, and the stories they share. We will discuss strategies for planning and conducting immersive fieldwork and participant observation as well as different approaches to ethnographic writing.

Dr. Balkan’s research and teaching interests cohere around the politics of global migration, borders, race, ethnicity, identity, and necropolitics. His first monograph, Dying Abroad: The Political Afterlives of Migration in Europe, explores in detail how immigrant communities navigate end-of-life decisions in countries where they face structural barriers to full citizenship and equal social standing—a phenomenon Balkan terms “death out of place.” It argues that states, families, and religious communities all have a vested interest in the fate of dead bodies and illustrates how the quotidian practices attending the death and burial of minoritized groups in migratory settings are structured by deeper political questions about the meaning of home and homeland. Dying Abroad offers insight into the processes through which relations between authority, territory, and populations are managed at a transnational level.

References and planned course readings

  • Victoria Reyes. 2020. “Ethnographic Toolkit: Strategic Positionality and Researchers’ Visible and Invisible Tools in Field Research.” Ethnography. Vol. 21 (2): Pgs. 220 – 240.
  • Lee Ann Fujii. 2015. “Five Stories of Accidental Ethnography: Turning Unplanned Moments in the Field into Data.” Qualitative Research. Vol. 15 (4): Pgs. 525 – 539.
  • Osman Balkan. “Introduction: Death Out of Place,” in Dying Abroad: The Political Afterlives of Migration in Europe. (Forthcoming in 2023 with Cambridge University Press).

Part II

Open panel: Discussing current research project questions

Co-presenters Dr. Blajer and Dr. Balkan along with SC Chair Dr. Weitzel will take questions from audience participants regarding interpretive methods questions in their ongoing projects. This will enable fruitful discussion and audience engagement from which all participants can benefit.

A pdf copy of these details is available here.


Previous APSA Short Course listings:

2020 IMM Short Course Information
2019 IMM Short Course Information
2018 IMM Short Course Information
2017 IMM Short Course Information
2016 IMM Short Course Information
2015 IMM Short Course Information
2014 IMM Short Course Information
2013 IMM Short Course Information
2012 IMM Short Course Information
2011 IMM Short Course Information
2010 IMM Short Course Information
2009 IMM Short Course Information
2008 IMM Short Course Information
2007 IMM Short Course Information

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