(Im)migrant Well-Being: A Nexus for Research & Policy

Theme

Immigration is not just a legal process, nor is it a finite aspect of an (im)migrant’s life that ends upon arrival in a new place or country. It shapes the daily lives of (im)migrants, their families, and the communities in which they settle. And yet, despite this profound impact, policy discussions on immigration too often focus solely on its large-scale economic impacts, sometimes overlooking the central questions about the lived experiences of (im)migrants, such as how they navigate physical space, how they understand themselves and their place in their communities, or how they access basic needs. Especially in a renewed wave of heightened surveillance, policing, detention, and xenophobic political attacks on (im)migrants and their families, empirical work that promotes the humanity of (im)migrants and the realities of their lived experiences is crucial for developing impactful social policies and interventions. Still, while academic research exists on the lives and needs of (im)migrants, there can be a disconnect among scholars from different disciplines, as well as between the academy and the policy-making world.
 
The Conference on Im/Migrant Well-Being seeks to bridge these gaps by bringing together scholars from diverse backgrounds—both disciplinary and biographical—and community partners in one place to critically realize the potential of engaged scholarship through a focus on (im)migrant well-being. Organizations like the CDC, NIH, and UN emphasize well-being — including social, emotional, relational, economic, psychological, and physical well-being — as critical for both creating public policies and analyzing their impact. (Im)migrant well-being thus serves as a nexus for research from the humanities, applied sciences, and social sciences, as well as the work of community organizations, to ensure this global mission explicitly addresses the needs of peoples excluded in contemporary empirical and policy-making approaches. This conference aims to attract a broad and interdisciplinary audience of scholars on immigration, minoritized groups and identities, intersectionality, public policy and public administration, public health and health sciences, media studies, political sociology, and social movements, among others.
 
Given the relevance of this topic for policy, the overall goal of this conference is not only to provide a venue for scholarship on im/migrants and their well-being, but also to provide attendees with the tools to translate that work for greater impact outside the academy. Conference participants will contribute to constructing more interdisciplinary frameworks for studying the lived experiences of (im)migrants, while also learning from experts and participating in workshops on how to communicate their work for diverse audiences. As the conference seeks to bring together diverse perspectives, potential research topics related to (im)migrant well-being at the individual, familial, or community-level and how they relate to practices, programs, or policies could include but are not limited to the following intersecting areas:

  • Social well-being, such as studies of social activities, work, or access to social resources
  • Relational well-being, such as studies of families, friendships, or support networks
  • Emotional well-being, such as studies of life dis/satisfaction, emotions, or resilience
  • Psychological well-being, including studies of identity, safety, mental health, or uncertainty
  • Physical well-being, such as studies of stress, dietary and activity habits, or access to medical interventions
  • Economic well-being that centers (im)migrants themselves and/or their families, such as access to legal representation, health, food, and housing
  • The intersections of some or all of these forms of well-being as they relate to state violence, such as im/migrant detainment, forced expulsion, and raids

Additionally, the Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute at The George Washington University has committed resources to sponsor a panel specifically on the well-being of Latinx & Caribbean (im)migrants in the United States. Submissions under this theme may follow the research areas suggested above but should explicitly focus on or address the lived experiences and needs of Latinx & Caribbean (im)migrants.