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On the Move

Migration Across Generations

On the Move:
Migration Across Generations

June 29-July 4 and July 6-9, 2017

“The land flourished because it was fed from so many sources―because it was nourished by so many cultures and traditions and peoples.”
“The rhythms I play and dance collided on the American continent—then I made them my own.”

Since the first Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 1967, we have brought together recent immigrants with those who preceded them by generations—or by millennia—to examine how they have contributed to the vitality of this country. On the 50th anniversary of the Festival, On the Move further explored how American culture has been shaped by the movement of people to and within the United States.

Building on a small but innovative program from 2016, the 2017 program foregrounded the perspectives of youth, past and present. It invited intergenerational conversations about the interplay of migration, creativity, and culture. It highlighted the social power of tradition and art, and focused on how young people assume responsibility as bridge builders among communities, generations, and to the future.

Youth represent both vulnerable and powerful positions in society. They are technically “dependents” until their late teens, yet they are trailblazers and energizers of change. Today’s generation of young people—ranging from their mid-teens into their mid-thirties—are the most racially diverse population in American history. Whether themselves migrants or immigrants, they have a particular stake in the world they are inheriting together.

For this program, the National Mall became a space for performances, workshops, sports and visual arts demonstrations, and discussions. We addressed themes of multilingualism, diversity and identity within and across cultural communities, shifting notions of belonging, high-tech and traditional ways of communication, and the disruptive and generative impacts of migration. Visitors explored how American communities and cultures are transformed by the movements, displacements, and interactions of diverse populations. Together we sought to learn and share how to build inclusive communities across the country.

American Anthropological Association logo

Support for this program provided by the American Anthropological Association. This program also received federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center, and from the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.

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