On the Move: Migration and Immigration Today
What is it like to be an immigrant in 2016? Whether people are moving to seek political refuge or because of forcible displacement; whether they left because of an environmental disaster, in search of better economic or educational opportunities, or to be closer to—or farther away from—their families; the experiences of people moving to and within the United States makes up the evolving texture of the American landscape.
On the Move: Migration and Immigration Today, an activity and presentation space at this year’s Folklife Festival, will draw from our Basque and California programs to invite visitors to reflect on their own immigration and migration experiences. On the Move will also prompt visitors to think about others who are undergoing profound changes as they move—or are moved—from place to place.
Visitors will be asked to consider the journeys of their communities—their struggles, hopes, and resilience—as they reflect on the questions: how do you define yourself? Where is “home”? How do you connect the traditions of past generations with those of new communities? What happens to those who have been left behind? How might you help others immigrating or migrating today? If you were forced to move, what would you do? What would you take with you?
Our partners—Alliance for California Traditional Arts, American Anthropological Association, American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, Basque Library of the University of Nevada, Basque Museum and Cultural Center, National Museum of American History, and Radio Bilingüe—will help us explore these themes. We will lead discussions about cultural heritage, questioning if and how particular practices evolve from the homeland, such as the Basque American tradition of “reading the trees” through arborglyph tree carvings. Oral historians will provide tips on how to record the stories of their families and communities.
On the Move interviewers will invite Festival visitors to digitally map their heritage. The results will grow over the course of the Festival and be displayed at an indoor installation in the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building. Facilitators will prompt visitors to Tweet responses to workshop questions, broadening the participation space virtually as we broaden our perceptions.
In signing the historic Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson observed, “The land flourished because it was fed from so many sources—because it was nourished by so many cultures and traditions and peoples.” With so many people on the move, what Johnson said seems ever more true and probing now than in his time. Come explore these issues with On the Move: Migration and Immigration Today.
Alissa Stern is the coordinator for On the Move at the 2016 Folklife Festival. She also works with threatened languages in Bali, Indonesia.