Gender and Migration: Local, National, and Global Lives

Course Description: 

This course introduces the various ways in which migration is gendered, and why it is important to explore migration through this lens in order to understand how the processes and transformations impact men, women, and children. We will engage with theories that open up a conversation about migration in historical perspective, as well as the many different forms of migration (transnational, forced, asylum, exile, diaspora, human trafficking, refugees, etc.), and how these migrants experience these processes. We will discuss and challenge the analytical categories underlying these distinctions, and seek to understand how we as a global community need to address the cultural, social, economic and political dimensions of migration and diasporas as well as issues related to identity construction, cultural productions, and imagined identities. Furthermore, the course explores case studies of health and security, war and conflict, as well as transnational families and transmigrants. We will end the course by discussing the growing crisis in Europe and how the “new” refugees are struggling with a campaign of misinformation that highlights the growing nationalism that adapts racialized rhetoric against Arab and Muslim migrants and refugees. 

Learning Outcomes: 

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Identify and engage with the major themes outlined in the course syllabus, and offer a critical interpretation of all class readings assigned to these themes.
  • Understand the key methodological developments in the field of transnational migration and reflect upon how these intersect with historical trajectories of migration, and more current modes of forced and enslaved migration routes.  
  • Adopt an intersectional approach to the key themes, and understand how gendered experiences and interpretation of migration, both in the past and in the present, shape the ways we talk about the interplay of nationalism, sexuality, religion, family, race, and labour.
  • Identify how migration researchers approach different angles of the migration debate, including the multiple approaches offered for studying the impact of gender on migration, and vice versa.
  • Recognize why the many forms of categorizing migration are intrinsic to the theoretical research models employed to study individuals and groups of migrants, immigrants, and refugees.
  • Actively employ the theories presented in the course in their own research, including a demonstration in the final paper of the student’s comprehension of the interdisciplinarity of this field of study.

Course Assignments and Grades

Class Participation                                                                                                 30%

In-class Topics Presentation                                                                                10%

Film Critique                                                                                                           20%

(Details regarding this assignment will be available on the course website.)

Final Research Paper                                                                                          40%

(Please consult with the instructor on your topic of choice.)

Course Requirements and Grades

Class Participation (30%)

This is a discussion-based course, and therefore you must come to class in order to receive a participation grade. If you do not come to class and participate every week, you cannot pass this course. Should you be forced to miss class, you can “make up” one class throughout the term by writing a 1000-word analysis of the assigned readings for that week. You may not make up more than one missed class. Make-up work must be handed in to the instructor during the class period following the meeting you missed. If you anticipate missing classes (including for religious observances) please get in touch with me as soon as possible.

You should arrive for class having completed the reading and prepared to engage in a discussion of the material with your colleagues. Simply showing up and sitting silently in class is not considered participation, and you will not receive participation points for doing so. You must take an active part in classroom discussion and in-class activities. You are expected to contribute to EVERY CLASS DISCUSSION, and failure to do so will negatively affect your grade.

This course deals with sensitive and controversial material – especially given the current political climate in the U.S. and the long history of American imperialism that has shaped many of the developments we will discuss. I ask that you show every person in the classroom the same kind of courtesy and respect that you expect in return, REGARDLESS of colour, creed, sexuality or religious background. You are encouraged to share your background and experiences in class, therefore it is imperative that we maintain a free and warm intellectual environment so that we can provide the same respect to each and every individual student.

In-class Presentation (10%) (Due in class)

In each class, one student will present the major issues from the readings based on a careful interpretation and synopsis of the assigned readings IN ADDITION TO one of the suggested readings for the week. In your presentation, you will outline the main arguments and methods employed by the authors, discuss briefly how the readings are connected, and propose discussion-based questions to further the classroom discussion. Please print and hand in a brief overview of your presentation to the instructor at the end of class.

Film Critique (20%) (Due until December 10th)

Based on one of the documentaries selected for the course, you will write a critical reflection of the film, with a particular focus on what kinds of information are provided, what kinds of methodologies are employed, and what you consider to be the message of the film. A more detailed description of this assignment will be available on the course website. Since you are permitted to draw from any film used (or suggested) in the syllabus, the deadline for this assignment will remain open until December 10th when all critiques are expected to be submitted.

Research Essay (40%) (Essay proposal (10%) due November 2; Complete essay (30%) due December 14)

The research essay comprises the singe largest portion of your grade, and as such, should be taken very seriously. Explore the course themes as soon as possible, and consult with the instructor on how you can integrate this research into your thesis proposal. I will do my best to accommodate any topics within the range of the course that will help you as you prepare your proposal and begin to think about your own research.

As part of the final essay, you must include a section that addresses a review of the literature on the topic. If you wish to write a historical analysis of your topic of choice, this will take the form of a more traditional historiography – we will discuss in class the methodological differences between these categories, and how best to structure your paper, and what kinds of research questions you can integrate from the course readings.