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2023 Grant Awards

Our 2023 grant award winners reflect Cornell University's campus-wide, interdisciplinary expertise in migration. The research, curriculum, and community engagement projects below are supported by the Mellon Foundation Just Futures Initiative and Global Cornell.

Just Futures Team Research Grants

Multicultural Land Governance and Farming

This project is a partnership between the farmer-researchers of the new Uhuru Creek Farm and Cornell University scholars and students. Collaborators will design a multidisciplinary, participatory process for illuminating, refining, and documenting the knowledge and theory generated as a plan to construct houses and farm infrastructure is implemented. This experiment in cooperative land governance and farming has deep ties to the broader movement of cooperative land governance. Uhuru Creek Farm is a project of Quarter Acre for the People (QAP) and is run by four families of color, led by Sonja Taylor, Antonisha Owens, Patricia Lahoz, and Rochelle Matthews.

  • Co-principal investigator: Shorna Allred (Center for Conservation Social Sciences, Natural Resources and the Environment, Global Development, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences)
  • Co-principal investigator: Felix Heisel (Cornell Circular Construction Lab, College of Architecture, Art, and Planning)
  • Co-principal investigator: Scott Peters (Global Development, CALS)
  • Collaborator: Christa Núñez (Ph.D. student, Development Studies, Global Development, CALS)
  • Collaborator: Patricia Lahoz (artist and member Uhuru Creek Farm)
  • Collaborator: Rochelle Matthews (activist and gardener and member Uhuru Creek Farm)
  • Collaborator: Antonisha Owens (founder, AficaPure Beauty Product Company and member Uhuru Creek Farm)
  • Collaborator: Sonja Taylor (activist and agricultural educator and member Uhuru Creek Farm)

Documentation, Maintenance, and Revitalization of the Indigenous Languages of the Cayuga Lake Basin: Gayogohón (Cayuga) and Deyodiho:n (Tutelo)

The displacement of the Gayogohón (Cayuga) and Deyodiho:n (Tutelo) people from their original homeland in the Cayuga lake basin is the most significant human migration event in the history of our region. Loss of language, with loss of culture as an integral consequence, is a direct result of genocide, displacement, and oppression. This project will support ongoing research and outreach on the documentation, maintenance, and revitalization of the Indigenous languages of our region, Gayogohón and Deyodiho:n.

Implications of U.S. Immigration Detention Centers: Exploring the Experiences of Currently and Formerly Detained Immigrants and Their Advocates

This project is a multi-phase, interdisciplinary, collaborative study of the impact of U.S. immigration detention centers on immigrants and their advocates. Researchers will center the voices of migrants to expose systemic injustices, particularly through the lens of immigrants of color. Key themes of the project are racial justice and dispossession, as immigrants who are detained inherently lose their liberty, and immigration detention is broadly and capriciously used to oppress immigrant communities.

Just Futures Small Grants

Post COVID-19: The Social, Health, and Educational Experiences of Latina/o/x Undocumented College Students

Sixty semi-structured interviews will be conducted with Latina/o/x undocumented undergraduates from three universities in the United States. Interviews will highlight the experiences of undocumented students post-COVID-19 and uncover the different messages (e.g., supportive, anti-immigrant) students receive from peers, friends, professors, and staff. The project will expand understandings of the structural barriers and supportive networks among several undocumented groups and include a community engagement component to recruit and train (un)documented immigrants to collect and analyze data.

Reclaiming Tutelo Corn in the Indigenous Southeast

This project will document the process of contemporary Indigenous farmers and smaller scale growers reclaiming a rare variety of Indigenous corn, Tutelo Strawberry Corn, during the 2023 growing season. Interviews, written questionnaires, and photography will document the work of farmers and growers, including the Native Seed Alliance of Windsor, NC, and Victoria Ferguson (Monacan: Roanoke, Virginia). Outcomes of this work will include articles on Indigenous reclamation of this traditional food source in the southeast, comparative analysis of planting and plant health in two geographic locations, and a preliminary record of a photographic documentation of Indigenous repossession of Tutelo corn.

  • Principal investigator: Troy Richardson (American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program, CALS)

Africa Futures Project: Socioeconomic and Geographic Mobility of Ghanaian, Kenyan, and South African Youth

This project will use cross-national comparative survey and longitudinal interview data to address unresolved questions regarding how resource inequality affects labor market access and immigrant selectivity and the effect of migration on the lives of upwardly mobile Sub-Saharan African youth. The research has the capacity to clearly distinguish if migrants to the United States are more select than those who settle in other destinations or whether opportunities available in alternate host societies and shifting preferences of younger cohorts of potential migrants has reduced the advantage the United States has traditionally held for attracting some of the most talented and well-resourced African migrants.

  • Principal investigator: Tristan Ivory (International and Comparative Labor, School of Industrial and Labor Relations)

Curriculum Development Grants

Disturbing Settlement: Community-Engaged Design for Land and Animals

Over a full academic year, this course uses specific plants and animals as lenses through which students view settler colonial capitalism. In the fall, a student seminar prepares students through readings, talks, and skills-building exercises. In the spring, students engage with community partners to create a functional or speculative design project that integrates theoretical frameworks and research with the partners. They will conduct in-depth interviews with partners and regularly consult with them as they work to outline a problem and create a design concept that responds to it. Final projects will be grounded in research, but students will be also encouraged to brainstorm outside the realm of the possible or the practical to engage in imaginations of alternatives.

  • Principal investigator: Amiel Bize (Anthropology, A&S)

Education and Mentorship Through Collaboration with LatCrit

In October, Cornell Law School is scheduled to host the 2023 Biennial Conference of Latina and Latino Critical Legal Theory (“LatCrit”) with a theme of “Hemispheric Justice: Cultivating Solidarity across the South–North Divide of the Americas.” The conference call for papers proposes that a concept of “hemispheric justice” can reframe and facilitate today’s diverse movements for justice across the Americas and beyond. This funding will create an accessible plenary and concurrent panel track dedicated to migration. The opening plenary will be devoted to the intersection of critical legal theory and migration. The concurrent panel track will connect noted migration and critical legal theory scholars directly with New York State students and advocates.  

  • Co-principal investigator: G.S. Hans (Cornell Law School)
  • Co-principal investigator: Beth Lyon (Cornell Law School)
  • Co-principal investigator: Kim Nayyer (Cornell Law School)
  • Co-principal investigator: Michelle Whelan (Cornell Law School)

Transnational Antiracist and Decolonial Movements in Solidarity

Project collaborators will host up to three events that engage an array of thinkers—from scholars and students to local and international activists to community members—in practical and theoretical conversations. The purpose of the events will be to collectively forge a “pedagogy of solidarity” that enables activists, intellectuals, students, and community members to create practical tools for highlighting and reproducing alliances between antiracist and decolonial struggles within and beyond the United States.

  • Co-principal investigator: Russell Rickford (History, A&S)
  • Collaborator: Begum Adalet (Government, A&S)
  • Collaborator: Eman Ghaneyem (Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Society for the Humanities)
  • Collaborator: Mohamed Abdou (Global Racial Justice Postdoctoral Fellow, Einaudi Center)

Learning from Movements: Refuge, Asylum, and Activism Across and Beyond Borders

This course will teach students about how refugees, asylum seekers, and un/documented immigrants, many of whom are Indigenous, critique and experience the racism of legal and governing regimes that make them deportable, criminalize their families, incarcerate and remove them, and foreclose access to mobility and rights. Through the study of refguee-led anti-deportation campaigns and collaboration with them, the course will show how organizations build collectives and coalitions to organize communities across identities and legal categories.

  • Co-principal investigator: Saida Hodžić (Anthropology, A&S)
  • Community partners: Asylum Access (Oakland, CA), SEARAC (Washington, DC), and Red Nation Beyond Borders Caucus

Underground Railroad Tour

This class is an opportunity for undergraduate students to learn about local histories through an experiential civic education activity directly in the community. The local histories of Ithaca, NY will be linked to national and international debates in the mid-19th century and now. The tour and its related opportunities for reflection, creativity, and research teach students about the place where they will undertake their education and about the historical context and civic mood in which Cornell University emerged.

Refugee Pathways: From Conflict to Resettlement

This project will create a community-engaged course that will connect students and community partners through an examination of critical migration issues, including global systems of inequality that produce forced migration, the politics of who “gets” to be a refugee, and the uncertain pathways from conflict to internal displacement and/or non-permanent settlement. Students will take a close look at three cities in Upstate New York to understand the comparative racialization of refugees in the United States, the process by which refugees are resettled in Upstate New York, and the role of local schools and universities in promoting refugee justice and community building. 

Migration and Refuge: Collaborations Across Borders

Building on the interdisciplinary strengths in migration and refugee studies across Cornell and University College London, the Migration and Refuge Working Group will foster new opportunities for dialogue and sustainable collaboration among faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral scholars, producing academic and public-facing outputs. Their priorities include scholarship and praxis that meaningfully recognize refugees as producers of knowledge, and the concept or refuge (rather than fetishization of the refugee) as a starting point of analysis.

  • Principal investigator: Eleanor Paynter (Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Italian Studies, Brown University)
  • Principal investigator: Saida Hodžić (Anthropology and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, A&S)
  • Principal investigator: Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh (Professor of Migration and Refugee Studies, University College London)

Community Engagement Grants

A Threefold Approach to the Migration Debate

This project forges a collaboration between the Tompkins County Office of Human Rights (TCOHR), Cornell Prison Education Program (CPEP), and select undergraduate seniors enrolled in AEM3015 (Grand Challenges Program), a course taught by Dr. Jennifer Majka in the Dyson School at Cornell University. Working together, they will develop a variety of educational opportunities and media to engage and reach diverse constituencies in Tompkins County on immigration practices, migration patterns, and the racialization of perspectives on migration. 

Engagement with Immigrant Farmworkers to Improve Individual and Community Well Being

Building on the trust the Cornell Farmworker Program has established through long-standing resilient partnerships with farmworkers, this effort will engage students in addressing complex farmworker-identified challenges. The program will connect students and farmworkers in collaborative research with farmworkers in four areas: legal empowerment, tax assistance, addressing labor challenges, and supporting improved health and wellbeing.

  • Co-principal investigator: Mary Jo Dudley (Global Development and the Cornell Farmworker Program, CALS)
  • Co-principal investigator: Monica Cornejo (Communication, CALS)
  • Co-principal investigator: Sofia Villenas (Anthropology, A&S)
  • Co-principal investigator: Debra Castillo (Comparative Literature Latina/o Studies Program, A&S)
  • Co-principal investigator: Angela Cornell (Cornell Law School)

Cross-Disciplinary Team Research Grants

A Biosphere on the Move: Exploring Coexistence during Climate Transition in Nilgiris, India

To understand coexistence during a period of climate transition, an interdisciplinary faculty team will  assess the status of wildlife presence outside of forest areas in Nilgiris, India. The project will observe the nature of interactions between species and track wildlife migration including avifauna as critical ecological indicators of climate shifts. This work will lead to better understanding of the factors that drive the movement of wildlife closer to human settlements and that drive the migration of people.

  • Co-principal investigator:  Neema Kudva (City and Regional Planning, AAP)
  • Co-principal investigator:  Andrew Willford (Anthropology, A&S)
  • Co-principal investigator:  Julia Felippe (Clinical Sciences, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine)

Migration for Equitable Resource Access on East African Drylands

Although migration has for centuries been a key strategy for pastoralists to access natural resources, recent socio-environmental changes in dryland systems threaten the livelihoods of approximately 200 million pastoralist households globally. This project’s goal is to understand migration and resource access inequality among East African pastoralists in the context of these changes. To better understand inequality in this context, researchers will seek to understand how pastoralist mobility and migration varies across households and communities with different socioeconomic and environmental characteristics.

  • Co-principal investigator: Chuan Liao (Global Development, CALS)
  • Co-principal investigator: Christopher B. Barrett (Applied Economics and Policy, Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management)
  • Co-principal investigator: Ying Sun (Soil and Crop Sciences Section, School of Integrative Plant Sciences, CALS)