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Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, Chair 305 E. 23rd Street • CLA 3.306 • A3100 • Austin, Tx 78712 • 512-232-1595

Rebecca M. Torres

Professor Ph.D., University of California at Davis

Associate Professor
Rebecca M. Torres

Contact

Biography

 

Overview

My experiences as both a development practitioner and an academic have provided me with the opportunity to work with diverse topics related to rural/community development and poverty reduction in Latin America and the U.S. South. Specifically, I am interested in migration and rural restructuring; agricultural change; and the intersection between tourism, poverty and development.

Research Focus

My research trajectory has focused on rural/community development and poverty reduction, with special emphases on migration, agricultural transformation and tourism in the context of globalization. Given the gendered nature and uneven effects of these processes, I have an emerging interest in feminist geography, gender, and children’s geographies. Through my work I have sought to advance theoretically informed understandings of neoliberalism, rural restructuring and transnationalism as lived experience on the ground by migrants and their families. Methodologically, my work has employed both quantitative and qualitative mixed methods, and I have sought to contribute new approaches involving narrative inquiry and participatory methods – the latter particularly with respect to activist/engaged research. My research, by its very nature, crosses disciplines and academic/praxis boundaries. This has provided the opportunity for significant collaboration with diverse scholars, development practitioners and activists.  Below are key objectives and selected outcomes for my three overarching research foci.

I.  Latino Transnational Migration, Rural Restructuring and Development

Through theoretically grounded transnational multi-sited ethnography (including mixed methods) of new geographies of Latino transnational migration I have sought: 1) To understand the distinct place-specific ways in which transnational migration emerges as a consequence, response, or adaptation to neoliberal policies and practices at multiple scales; 2) To discern the everyday ways in which different embodied individuals (i.e. distinguished by gender, ethnicity, class, age, etc.) experience, negotiate, resist, enact and adapt to neoliberalism and migration; and 3) To examine critically current migration and development discourse and policy while illustrating the importance of integrating the specificities and differences of place, scale, gender and race/ethnicity in envisaging future alternatives. Extensive fieldwork for this project has been carried out in Veracruz and Michoacán, Mexico as well as in the U.S. rural South. This research was supported by an NSF Early CAREER Award (Award #0547725 and #1005927), a UT Harrington Faculty Fellowship, and a Z. Smith Reynolds grant, among others. Selected publications include: 

Torres, R. and L. Carte (forthcoming) “Community participatory appraisal in migration research:  connecting neoliberalism, rural restructuring and mobility,” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers

Torres, R. and M. Wicks-Asbun (2013) “Undocumented Students’ Narratives of Liminal Citizenship: High Aspirations, Exclusion and ‘In-Between’ Identities,” Professional Geographer, Focus Special Issue on Diversity, Inclusion and Participation in Geography, published online January 8, 2013 (1-10), print version: forthcoming 2013

Popke, J. and R. Torres (2012) “Neoliberalization and transnational migration in the Totonacapán,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, published online February 29, 2012 (1-19), print version: January 2013, vol. 103 (1) 211-229

II. Development and Tourism

As the world’s largest and fastest growing industry, tourism is now routinely harnessed by developing country planners seeking to attract visitors from the “North” as a source of foreign exchange, investment, employment and economic growth. One attendant assumption of tourism development plans is that the economic benefits of tourism will trickle-down to stimulate other sectors of the local economy — notably agriculture. Empirical evidence suggests, however, that in many cases the expected linkages between tourism and agriculture fail to materialize. In fact, tourism development would appear often to harm local agriculture. Furthermore, one of the principal findings from my tourism and agriculture research in the Yucatan Peninsula was that mass tourism enclaves (i.e. Cancun) often serve as magnets for rural-to-urban migration of impoverished peasant farming populations in search of work, resulting in the expansion of urban slums on resort peripheries. Over the years this research has been supported by a Fulbright and NSF Awards (#9627457), among other university grants. Selected publications include: 

Torres, R. and J.  Momsen (eds) (2011) Tourism and Agriculture: New Geographies of Consumption, Production and Rural Restructuring, Series: Contemporary Geographies of Leisure, Tourism and Mobility, Routledge: London and New York [ISBN: 978-0-415-58429-6]

Torres, R. and J. Momsen (2005) “Gringolandia:  The Construction of a New Tourist Space in Mexico.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, vol. 95 (2) 314-335 

Torres, R. (2003) “Linkages Between Tourism and Agriculture in Mexico,” Annals of Tourism Research, vol. 30 (3) 546-566

III. Development and Agrarian Transformation

Development and agrarian transformation is the third theme threaded throughout much of my research, including those areas already described. Throughout my academic career I have remained engaged in various agricultural development initiatives to facilitate dialogue between diverse stakeholders. This work has included research examining the connections between neoliberal agrarian restructuring and new patterns of internal and international migration; the introduction of alternative crops in the tobacco-dependent U.S. south; and the implementation of Cuba’s free farmer markets – a critical early capitalist market reform. Sources of funding included the National Science Foundation (Award #0547725 and #1005927), The Golden LEAF Foundation and the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies, among others. Selected publications include:

Torres, R. (2011) “Life Between the Two Milpas:  Tourism, Agriculture and Migration in the Yucatan.” In Tourism and Agriculture: New Geographies of Consumption, Production and Rural Restructuring,” edited by Rebecca Torres and Janet Momsen, Routledge: New York and London, 47-71

Torres, R., V. Nelson, J. Momsen & D. Niemeier (2010) “Experiment or Transition? Revisiting Food Distribution in Cuban Agromercados from the “Special Period,” Journal of Latin American Geography, vol. 9 (1) 67-87

Hapke, H., R. Torres, J. Popke and D. Alderman (eds) (2002) “Remaking Tobacco Dependent Communities,” Special Issue, North Carolina Geographer, 2002, Vol. 10, 1-135

**To learn more about my current research see Latino Migrations Web Page: https://webspace.utexas.edu/rt7296/www/Latino_Migrations,_Rural_Transformations_%26_Development.html and UT Research Spotlight http://www.utexas.edu/cola/depts/geography/news/6648

Community Engagement/Activist Research

In collaboration with Greene County Public Schools and East Carolina University (ECU) faculty we received funding from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation to implement a preliminary study of rural Latino families, and to support a university-community partnership to implement, “Los Puentes” (“Bridges”) dual language immersion and multicultural education program in a North Carolina rural school system. This program continues to expand and has been recognized with Global Communicators and Lighthouse awards.  

In Austin I have participated in an activist research project, “Building Austin, Building Injustice.”  This initiative was a collaboration between UT faculty and students from various departments and Worker’s Defense Project (WDP)/Proyecto de Defensa Laboral (PDL), a grass roots non-profit worker’s rights organization. The participatory activist study sought to better understand the conditions prevalent in Austin’s construction industry and promote fair labor practices, and resulted in corrective legislation. To disseminate results among the academic community we published:

Torres, R., R. Heyman, S. Muñoz, L. Apgar, E. Timm, C. Tzintzún, C. Hale, J. McKiernan Gonzalez, S. Speed and E. Tang (2012) “Building Austin, Building Justice:  Immigrant Construction Workers, Precarious Labor Regimes and Social Citizenship,” Geoforum, published online December 4, 2012 (1-11), print version: March 2013, vol. 45, 145-155

WDP/PDL replicated the study at the state scale in Texas’ five largest and fastest growing cities, and is now organizing a nation-wide study.  To learn more about their work and obtain research reports see: http://www.workersdefense.org

Teaching Focus

Fundamental to my teaching philosophy is the belief that the acquisition of critical thinking skills should be integral to all courses I teach. To achieve this objective I employ a variety of pedagogical approaches to create a highly participatory learning environment in my classroom.   At the undergraduate level I teach courses on “Food, Farming and Global Hunger,” “Sustainable Development: Tourism, Poverty and Development,” and “Latina/o Migration Narratives.” At the graduate level I offer the courses “Gender and Migration” and “Research in Geography” (a research design and proposal preparation course). 

Interests

Migration, Rural Development, Agriculture, Gender, Tourism, Activist Scholarship

GRG 344K • Global Food, Farming, & Hunger

37590 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 500pm-630pm CLA 1.102
(also listed as LAS 330 )
show description

Examination of contemporary transformations in global agro-food systems, with emphasis on the current paradox of epidemic obesity in some parts of the world and enduring hunger in others. Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

GRG 396T • Gender And Migration

37720 • Fall 2014
Meets TH 100pm-400pm CLA 3.710
(also listed as LAS 388, WGS 393 )
show description

After many decades of scholarship that virtually ignored gender, scholars increasingly have come to recognize the highly gendered nature of migration and its multiple outcomes.  Gender analysis is critical to migration studies, not only because of the gendered nature of mobility and labor, but also because it is the key social construct upon which we organize our lives and society.  Men and women experience, negotiate, reconstitute, enact and respond to migration in deeply different ways, even within the same family and community. Understanding these differences, across multiple scales in diverse places, is important to gauge the uneven impacts of migration.  In this course we seek to:  1) discern the distinct forms  in which men and women experience, negotiate, resist, enact and adapt to migration and current neoliberal practices often underlying (im)mobilities, as well as the sources of these differences; 2) comprehend how migration has unevenly reshaped various facets of life for immigrants and their families –  such as material accumulation and consumption, desires, aspirations, division of labor, mobility,  power relations, responsibilities, inclusion, exclusion and identity across gender, place and scale; 4) To examine, critically, current migration and development discourse and policy in light of the  specificities and differences of  place, scale, gender and race/ethnicity in envisaging future alternatives.

This course focuses on contemporary transformations in global gender and  migration from an interdisciplinary social science perspective, but with a strong emphasis on the work of feminist geographers.  In particular feminist geographies of migration pay close attention to dimensions such as the spatialities and social constructions of power; the politics of scale; gender divisions of mobility and labor; geographies of responsibility and care; critical theorizations of space and place; indentities; emotion and affect; situated knowledges, among others.  We will approach topics through a variety of methods including critical readings of academic, ethnographic and more popular texts; seminar discussions (both instructor and student facilitated); in-class and  student research paper presentations.  To illustrate current trends and processes we will examine case studies from different parts of the globe, however the course will have a heavy Latin America/US migration orientation.

GRG 390L • Research In Geography

37905 • Spring 2014
Meets TH 500pm-800pm CLA 0.124
show description

see syllabus

GRG 344K • Global Food, Farming, & Hunger

37835 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm CLA 1.102
(also listed as LAS 330 )
show description

This course focuses on contemporary transformations in global agro-food systems from a social science perspective. Employing an interdisciplinary approach, we will explore recent changes in agricultural production, markets, networks and consumption in both industrialized and developing nations. We will seek to unravel the current paradox of growing global disparities, that is, why more people are going hungry in the world while obesity has reached a historical high – threatening to shorten life expectancies (unprecedented in the era of modern medical science).  Globalization, particularly the tensions between the “global” and “local” will be an overarching theme threaded throughout the course.  In particular, we will examine the contentious nature and contradictions embedded within “agricultural development,” – particularly processes of “modernization” and the neoliberalization of agricultural policy, development, trade, consumption and desires.  We seek to comprehend these global processes, but also to explore them at a local level to understand the “real life” human dimensions of transformation in agricultural and food systems.  We will also examine new alternative approaches to addressing some of the challenges and contradictions in agro-food systems including – organic farming, local food movements, community supported agriculture, fair trade, ethical consumption, producer organization and alternative sustainable development.  

In our analysis of agro-food restructuring we will examine key current issues and debates from a variety of perspectives and points of view.  Topics will include:  the “green revolution” and its socio-economic impacts; the genetic engineering debate; hunger and inequality; biofuels and global food crisis; food safety and nutrition; the politics of food aid; neoliberal agrarian policies and smallholders; farm labor and social justice; land reform; the sustainable agriculture movement; agriculture and the environment; gender and agriculture; farm labor issues; and vertical integration and the loss of the family farm, among others.  To illustrate current trends and processes we will examine case studies from different parts of the globe including: southeastern US, California, Iowa, Africa, India, Mexico, Brazil, Cuba and China, among others.  We will approach topics through a variety of methods including critical readings of academic, ethnographic and more popular texts; seminar discussions (both instructor and student facilitated); in-class projects & activities; invited guest speakers; films and student research paper presentations.

GRG 396T • Gender And Migration

37985 • Fall 2013
Meets TH 500pm-800pm CLA 4.106
(also listed as LAS 388, WGS 393 )
show description

After many decades of scholarship that virtually ignored gender, scholars increasingly have come to recognize the highly gendered nature of migration and its multiple outcomes.  Gender analysis is critical to migration studies, not only because of the gendered nature of mobility and labor, but also because it is the key social construct upon which we organize our lives and society.  Men and women experience, negotiate, reconstitute, enact and respond to migration in deeply different ways, even within the same family and community. Understanding these differences, across multiple scales in diverse places, is important to gauge the uneven impacts of migration.  In this course we seek to:  1) discern the distinct forms  in which men and women experience, negotiate, resist, enact and adapt to migration and current neoliberal practices often underlying (im)mobilities, as well as the sources of these differences; 2) comprehend how migration has unevenly reshaped various facets of life for immigrants and their families –  such as material accumulation and consumption, desires, aspirations, division of labor, mobility,  power relations, responsibilities, inclusion, exclusion and identity across gender, place and scale; 4) To examine, critically, current migration and development discourse and policy in light of the  specificities and differences of  place, scale, gender and race/ethnicity in envisaging future alternatives.

This course focuses on contemporary transformations in global gender and  migration from an interdisciplinary social science perspective, but with a strong emphasis on the work of feminist geographers.  In particular feminist geographies of migration pay close attention to dimensions such as the spatialities and social constructions of power; the politics of scale; gender divisions of mobility and labor; geographies of responsibility and care; critical theorizations of space and place; indentities; emotion and affect; situated knowledges, among others.  We will approach topics through a variety of methods including critical readings of academic, ethnographic and more popular texts; seminar discussions (both instructor and student facilitated); in-class and  student research paper presentations.  To illustrate current trends and processes we will examine case studies from different parts of the globe, however the course will have a heavy Latin America/US migration orientation.

GRG 390L • Research In Geography

37610 • Spring 2013
Meets TH 500pm-800pm CLA 3.710
show description

The research design and proposal writing process is among the most important, exciting, challenging, frustrating, alienating and rewarding endeavors for graduate students and faculty alike.  This course seeks to demystify this process through a rigorous but supportive environment in which students are guided through the key stages of research design and proposal writing.  This course is organized as an intensive collaborative workshop in which students bring individual components of their respective projects to class for constructive critical peer review for subsequent revision. The course objectives include: (1) to develop constructive peer reviewing skills; (2) to learn how to receive constructive criticism, rethink and revise; (3) to begin to cultivate a scholarly/academic identity; (4) to gain an in-depth understanding of the intellectual and practical dimensions of the proposal writing and review process; (5) to produce a polished, high quality and competitive research proposal modeled after the National Science Foundation (NSF) DDRIG (Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant).

GRG 344K • Global Food, Farming, & Hunger

37400 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm BEN 1.104
(also listed as LAS 330 )
show description

This course focuses on contemporary transformations in global agro-food systems from a social science perspective. Employing an interdisciplinary approach, we will explore recent changes in agricultural production, markets, networks and consumption in both industrialized and developing nations. We will seek to unravel the current paradox of growing global disparities, that is, why more people are going hungry in the world while obesity has reached a historical high – threatening to shorten life expectancies (unprecedented in the era of modern medical science).  Globalization, particularly the tensions between the “global” and “local” will be an overarching theme threaded throughout the course.  In particular, we will examine the contentious nature and contradictions embedded within “agricultural development,” – particularly processes of “modernization” and the neoliberalization of agricultural policy, development, trade, consumption and desires.  We seek to comprehend these global processes, but also to explore them at a local level to understand the “real life” human dimensions of transformation in agricultural and food systems.  We will also examine new alternative approaches to addressing some of the challenges and contradictions in agro-food systems including – organic farming, local food movements, community supported agriculture, fair trade, ethical consumption, producer organization and alternative sustainable development.  

In our analysis of agro-food restructuring we will examine key current issues and debates from a variety of perspectives and points of view.  Topics will include:  the “green revolution” and its socio-economic impacts; the genetic engineering debate; hunger and inequality; biofuels and global food crisis; food safety and nutrition; the politics of food aid; neoliberal agrarian policies and smallholders; farm labor and social justice; land reform; the sustainable agriculture movement; agriculture and the environment; gender and agriculture; farm labor issues; and vertical integration and the loss of the family farm, among others.  To illustrate current trends and processes we will examine case studies from different parts of the globe including: southeastern US, California, Iowa, Africa, India, Mexico, Brazil, Cuba and China, among others.  We will approach topics through a variety of methods including critical readings of academic, ethnographic and more popular texts; seminar discussions (both instructor and student facilitated); in-class projects & activities; invited guest speakers; films and student research paper presentations.

GRG 396T • Gender And Migration

37540 • Fall 2012
Meets TH 500pm-800pm GRG 408
(also listed as LAS 388, WGS 393 )
show description

After many decades of scholarship that virtually ignored gender, scholars increasingly have come to recognize the highly gendered nature of migration and its multiple outcomes.  Gender analysis is critical to migration studies, not only because of the gendered nature of mobility and labor, but also because it is the key social construct upon which we organize our lives and society.  Men and women experience, negotiate, reconstitute, enact and respond to migration in deeply different ways, even within the same family and community. Understanding these differences, across multiple scales in diverse places, is important to gauge the uneven impacts of migration.  In this course we seek to:  1) discern the distinct forms  in which men and women experience, negotiate, resist, enact and adapt to migration and current neoliberal practices often underlying (im)mobilities, as well as the sources of these differences; 2) comprehend how migration has unevenly reshaped various facets of life for immigrants and their families –  such as material accumulation and consumption, desires, aspirations, division of labor, mobility,  power relations, responsibilities, inclusion, exclusion and identity across gender, place and scale; 4) To examine, critically, current migration and development discourse and policy in light of the  specificities and differences of  place, scale, gender and race/ethnicity in envisaging future alternatives.

This course focuses on contemporary transformations in global gender and  migration from an interdisciplinary social science perspective, but with a strong emphasis on the work of feminist geographers.  In particular feminist geographies of migration pay close attention to dimensions such as the spatialities and social constructions of power; the politics of scale; gender divisions of mobility and labor; geographies of responsibility and care; critical theorizations of space and place; indentities; emotion and affect; situated knowledges, among others.  We will approach topics through a variety of methods including critical readings of academic, ethnographic and more popular texts; seminar discussions (both instructor and student facilitated); in-class and  student research paper presentations.  To illustrate current trends and processes we will examine case studies from different parts of the globe, however the course will have a heavy Latin America/US migration orientation.

GRG 339K • Envir, Devel, & Food Productn

37355 • Fall 2011
Meets TTH 930am-1100am GRG 312
show description

Farming, Food & Global Hunger

This course focuses on contemporary transformations in global agro-food systems from a social science perspective. Employing an interdisciplinary approach, we will explore recent changes in agricultural production, markets, networks and consumption in both industrialized and developing nations. We will seek to unravel the current paradox of growing global disparities, that is, why more people are going hungry in the world while obesity has reached a historical high – threatening to shorten life expectancies (unprecedented in the era of modern medical science).  Globalization, particularly the tensions between the “global” and “local” will be an overarching theme threaded throughout the course.  In particular, we will examine the contentious nature and contradictions embedded within “agricultural development,” – particularly processes of “modernization” and the neoliberalization of agricultural policy, development, trade, consumption and desires.  We seek to comprehend these global processes, but also to explore them at a local level to understand the “real life” human dimensions of transformation in agricultural and food systems.  We will also examine new alternative approaches to addressing some of the challenges and contradictions in agro-food systems including – organic farming, local food movements, community supported agriculture, fair trade, ethical consumption, producer organization and alternative sustainable development. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In our analysis of agro-food restructuring we will examine key current issues and debates from a variety of perspectives and points of view.  Topics will include:  the “green revolution” and its socio-economic impacts; the genetic engineering debate; hunger and inequality; biofuels and global food crisis; food safety and nutrition; the politics of food aid; neoliberal agrarian policies and smallholders; farm labor and social justice; land reform; the sustainable agriculture movement; agriculture and the environment; gender and agriculture; farm labor issues; and vertical integration and the loss of the family farm, among others.  To illustrate current trends and processes we will examine case studies from different parts of the globe including: southeastern US, California, Iowa, Africa, India, Mexico, Brazil, Cuba and China, among others.  We will approach topics through a variety of methods including critical readings of academic, ethnographic and more popular texts; seminar discussions (both instructor and student facilitated); in-class projects & activities; invited guest speakers; films and student research paper presentations.

GRG 342C • Sustainable Development

37365 • Fall 2011
Meets TTH 500pm-630pm GRG 102
show description

Tourism, Poverty & Development

     Tourism is the world’s largest transnational industry and one of the fastest growing economic sectors. Globalization has created significant opportunities for the expansion of tourism to even the most remote corners of the planet.  This global phenomenon has the power to generate foreign exchange earnings, attract international investment, increase tax revenues, create employment, and stimulate local economies in both industrialized and the developing nations. In most instances, realizing this potential involves the commodification of “place” and “space” for tourist mass consumption. Through a process of institutionalization and standardization, physical and cultural capital is packaged and transformed into “tourist spectacles” for the “tourist gaze.”  The economic, social, cultural and environmental landscapes of host destinations are, as a consequence, profoundly transformed.  Tourism has a multitude of impacts, both positive and negative, on people's lives and the environment they inhabit. With increased globalization, tourism is now undergoing a process of diversification and specialization.  Increasingly, we see the emergence of new forms of Post-Fordist tourism (nature tourism, ethnic tourism, adventure tourism, etc.) as an alternative to “Fordist” mass tourism.  There is also a trend for more “environmental” friendly and socially just forms of tourism such as “sustainable tourism,” “responsible tourism,”  “ecotourism,” and “volunteer tourism.”

     Tourism is increasingly being targeted by both industrialized and developing nations as a strategy for economic development.  Development agencies are, for instance, advocating “pro-poor strategies” to harness tourism for poverty alleviation.  Pro-poor tourism seeks to enhance the positive impacts of tourism while reducing the costs tourism can place on the poor.   The objectives of this course include to: 1) Critically analyze tourism as a mechanism for economic and community development, and poverty reduction; 2) Examine the social, cultural, economic and environmental impacts of tourism development; and 3) Analyze various strategies to minimize negative impacts and maximize benefits of tourism development.  We will approach topics through a variety of methods, including: critical readings of academic and applied texts; in-class discussions, projects & activities; invited guest speakers; films; and student presentations.   Texas’ tourism resources and potential will be our “living laboratory.”  Students will do an individual participant observation research project of a tourism site/circumstance of their choice.  Upon completion of the course, students will understand: 1) the problems and potential associated with employing tourism as a mechanism for community and economic development; 2) how different forms of tourism transform economic, social, cultural and environmental landscapes across the globe; 3) what are some different strategies for maximizing tourism benefits while minimizing costs.

 

 

GRG 396T • Gender And Migration

37690 • Spring 2011
Meets TH 400pm-700pm GRG 408
(also listed as LAS 388, WGS 393 )
show description

After many decades of scholarship that virtually ignored gender, scholars increasingly have come to recognize the highly gendered nature of migration and its multiple outcomes.  Gender analysis is critical to migration studies, not only because of the gendered nature of mobility and labor, but also because it is the key social construct upon which we organize our lives and society.  Men and women experience, negotiate, reconstitute, enact and respond to migration in deeply different ways, even within the same family and community. Understanding these differences, across multiple scales in diverse places, is important to gauge the uneven impacts of migration.  In this course we seek to:  1) discern the distinct forms  in which men and women experience, negotiate, resist, enact and adapt to migration and current neoliberal practices often underlying (im)mobilities, as well as the sources of these differences; 2) comprehend how migration has unevenly reshaped various facets of life for immigrants and their families –  such as material accumulation and consumption, desires, aspirations, division of labor, mobility,  power relations, responsibilities, inclusion, exclusion and identity across gender, place and scale; 4) To examine, critically, current migration and development discourse and policy in light of the  specificities and differences of  place, scale, gender and race/ethnicity in envisaging future alternatives.

 

This course focuses on contemporary transformations in global gender and  migration from an interdisciplinary social science perspective, but with a strong emphasis on the work of feminist geographers.  In particular feminist geographies of migration pay close attention to dimensions such as the spatialities and social constructions of power; the politics of scale; gender divisions of mobility and labor; geographies of responsibility and care; critical theorizations of space and place; indentities; emotion and affect; situated knowledges, among others.  We will approach topics through a variety of methods including critical readings of academic, ethnographic and more popular texts; seminar discussions (both instructor and student facilitated); in-class and  student research paper presentations.  To illustrate current trends and processes we will examine case studies from different parts of the globe, however the course will have a heavy Latin America/US migration orientation. 

GRG 339K • Envir, Devel, & Food Productn

37165 • Fall 2010
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm GRG 316
show description

This course focuses on contemporary transformations in global agro-food systems from a social science perspective. Employing an interdisciplinary approach, we will explore recent changes in agricultural production, markets, networks and consumption in both industrialized and developing nations. We will seek to unravel the current paradox of growing global disparities, that is, why more people are going hungry in the world while obesity has reached a historical high – threatening to shorten life expectancies (unprecedented in the era of modern medical science).  Globalization, particularly the tensions between the “global” and “local” will be an overarching theme threaded throughout the course.  In particular, we will examine the contentious nature and contradictions embedded within “agricultural development,” – particularly processes of “modernization” and the neoliberalization of agricultural policy, development, trade, consumption and desires.  We seek to comprehend these global processes, but also to explore them at a local level to understand the “real life” human dimensions of transformation in agricultural and food systems.  We will also examine new alternative approaches to addressing some of the challenges and contradictions in agro-food systems including – organic farming, local food movements, community supported agriculture, fair trade, ethical consumption, producer organization and alternative sustainable development. 

Migration Courses

UGS 302 - Latina/o Migration Narratives (Undergraduate)

This course explores the Latino migration experience through migrant stories, or narratives, as documented through testimonial literature, (auto)-biography, ethnography, novels, film, photography and art. We will examine both individual and collective representations of the lived experience of migrants, and situate them within broader current social, political, cultural and economic immigration debates.

Migration is among the most pressing and controversial issues of our time. Examining migration through stories, which are expressions of everyday life experiences by the actors themselves, places a human face on the highly contested issue that is prominent in the public arena. This approach enables students to understand how international, domestic and local policy and practice reshape the life experiences of migrants, and how they in turn respond, negotiate, resist and attempt to access opportunities. 

GRG 396T/WGS 393/LAS 388 - Gender and Migration (Graduate)

After many decades of scholarship that virtually ignored gender, scholars increasingly have come to recognize the highly gendered nature of migration and its multiple outcomes.  Gender analysis is critical to migration studies, not only because of the gendered nature of mobility and labor, but also because it is the key social construct upon which we organize our lives and society.  Men and women experience, negotiate, reconstitute, enact and respond to migration in deeply different ways, even within the same family and community. Understanding these differences, across multiple scales in diverse places, is important to gauge the uneven impacts of migration.  In this course we seek to:  1) discern the distinct forms  in which men and women experience, negotiate, resist, enact and adapt to migration and current neoliberal practices often underlying (im)mobilities, as well as the sources of these differences; 2) comprehend how migration has unevenly reshaped various facets of life for immigrants and their families –  such as material accumulation and consumption, desires, aspirations, division of labor, mobility,  power relations, responsibilities, inclusion, exclusion and identity across gender, place and scale; 4) To examine, critically, current migration and development discourse and policy in light of the  specificities and differences of  place, scale, gender and race/ethnicity in envisaging future alternatives.

This course focuses on contemporary transformations in global gender and  migration from an interdisciplinary social science perspective, but with a strong emphasis on the work of feminist geographers.  In particular feminist geographies of migration pay close attention to dimensions such as the spatialities and social constructions of power; the politics of scale; gender divisions of mobility and labor; geographies of responsibility and care; critical theorizations of space and place; indentities; emotion and affect; situated knowledges, among others.  We will approach topics through a variety of methods including critical readings of academic, ethnographic and more popular texts; seminar discussions (both instructor and student facilitated); in-class and  student research paper presentations.  To illustrate current trends and processes we will examine case studies from different parts of the globe, however the course will have a heavy Latin America/US migration orientation. 

GRG 38143/LAS 388 - Mexican Migration Research Seminar (Graduate)

This course explores contemporary research on the “New Geography of Mexican Migration” to the US, with an emphasis on new origins and destinations, neoliberal restructuring and migration, rural transformation and migration, political and social citizenship,  indigenous migration, migration and development,“the left behind,” the gendered nature of migration and the relationship between internal and international migration, among other topics.  The seminar will take a “hands-on” approach, with students organizing and collaborating in 2-3 different interdisciplinary research teams.  Over the course of the semester, each team of researchers will engage in a major writing project -- specifically to analyze and prepare a publishable quality academic manuscript based on original qualitative and quantitative data from one of 2-3 different field studies.  These studies include: 1) Mexican migration from the Tierra Caliente region (Michoacán) to rural North Carolina; 2) Rural transformation & settlement in the US South; 3) Tourism-driven internal and new international migration in the Yucatan (Cancun & rural communities of Quintana Roo).  Within this context, students will have the opportunity to explore a variety of theoretical perspectives potentially relevant to their projects including:  global neoliberalization; transnationalism and transnational spaces; geographies of hope, fear and desire; feminist theory, citizenship, identity and subjectivity, actor/network theory, embodiment, subaltern studies and political ecology, as well as those identified by research teams.  In addition, we will also explore relevant methodological issues and approaches in migration research including: research design, quantitative/qualitative synergies and tensions, empirical/theoretical divisions, migrant narratives and critical ethnography,  cross-border collaborations, participatory appraisal, researcher  positionality and field work dilemmas, among others.  

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