Elite Migration: Expanding the Parameters of Immigration History

AHA Session 165
Immigration and Ethnic History Society 2
Saturday, January 4, 2014: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Washington Room 4 (Marriott Wardman Park)
Rebecca Kobrin, Columbia University
Midwestern Filipino “Unintentional Immigrants,” 1905–45: A Colonial Era Anomaly
Barbara M. Posadas, Northern Illinois University; Roland L. Guyotte, University of Minnesota, Morris
Elite Migration: Rockefeller Fellows in Public Health during the Interwar Period
Thomas David, University of Lausanne; Davide Rodogno, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies; Yi-Tang Lin, University of Lausanne
Elite Migration: Revisiting Class and Mobility
Nancy L. Green, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales
Rebecca Kobrin, Columbia University

Session Abstract

Students, philanthropists, experts, businessmen on the move -- do they count as immigrants?  Like the term “expats” today, they challenge our notions of immigration history.  They are clearly more privileged than the working-class immigrants who helped define the field of immigration history.  And they generally settle in for short periods of time -- except for those who stay longer.  By looking at different categories of “elite” migrants, those who come with economic and/or social capital, we can question not only how they fit into the categories of migration history, but also how our more classic definitions of immigration may be reconsidered.  If some businessmen, students, or philanthropic fellows only stay for several years before going home, doesn’t that remind us that many “classic” laboring migrants returned home as well?  If the greater means of those who come with money, education, or good salaries may ease their settlement into their host countries, does that necessarily mean that class trumps origins with regard to definitions of the Other?  Finally, if some patterns of settlement may be “unintentional,” was this not true for seasonal migrants who became permanent settlers in the past?  By examining Filipino students who stayed in the United States, transnational health experts in the interwar period, and American businessmen abroad, we aim to show the variety of “elite migrants,” their historical importance (“expats” are not solely a late 20th century phenomenon) and use them to expand the parameters of immigration history.

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