Migration Narratives: Diverging Stories in Schools, Churches, and Civic Institutions

Departmental News

Posted:  Oct 25, 2021 - 09:00am

Dr. Catherine Rhodes has co-edited a new book, Migration Narratives: Diverging Stories in Schools, Churches, and Civic Institutions (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020), based on more than 13 years of collaborative research between Rhodes and co-authors Stanton Wortham of Boston College, Briana Nichols at the University of Pennsylvania, and Katherine Clonan-Roy at Cleveland State University. The book is open access and available for anyone to read. 

The book vividly illustrates the complexities that migrants and hosts experience, and it suggests ways in which policy-makers, researchers, educators, and communities can respond to politically-motivated stories that oversimplify migration across the contemporary world. Immigration is a topic that generates significant heat in contemporary discussions. We hear stories about migrants being hardworking family-centered folks who will uplift their communities and assimilate. We hear stories about migrants as parasites or as invaders taking up resources. We hear stories about migrants as victims of racism and mistreatment who need to be defended. All of the stories are true in some respects and false in others but they’re told by people with agendas, the authors contend.

So Rhodes and her co-authors set out to find what’s actually happening in the lives of immigrants and the communities where they live.


“[Each Mexican migrant] is a fellow human being … They are coming to the country for a real need, to provide for their children and their family. They are not trying to get one over on us. I see good, hard-working people trying to make a better life for their kids just like my grandparents and some people’s great-grandparents … My grandfather and grandmother were both from Ireland, and my grandfather would say how it would be nice to go back to Ireland someday. My grandmother would say “You can go back, but I won’t.” … [Like my grandparents, the Mexican migrants are likely to stay in the US and not go back to Mexico] because their children and wives are here … While some do go back, the vast majority stay. Some move out of Marshall, but since I’ve been here it has been more permanent as well. They get jobs and some open their own businesses, so they won’t just up and leave. (Father Kelly of St. Joseph’s parish)”  Read more