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  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • SANDRA BERMANN: Good morning.

  • STEPHEN MACEDO: Hi.

  • How are you?

  • SANDRA BERMANN: How are you?

  • SUBJECT: Coffee all?

  • SANDRA BERMANN: Yes.

  • Coffee would be great, thank you.

  • STEPHEN MACEDO: Me too, please.

  • Thank you.

  • SANDRA BERMANN: You know, the whole question

  • of migration through the ages --

  • since biblical times, we've had it.

  • But now, in our lived history, we have a refugee crisis.

  • We have more migration than we've had since World War II.

  • And I started thinking about this community

  • and the possibility of having one

  • in doing my own work on translation studies but also

  • literary history and started to realize

  • how much I needed to know to talk about some

  • of these things in the current period.

  • So I went to a couple of colleagues

  • and talked with them, learned a lot,

  • and started to think about how much

  • it would mean to have a group of faculty

  • from roundabout campus who could talk about these things

  • and, in innovative ways, share knowledge,

  • share ways of thinking about this issue,

  • and how, eventually, this could have a huge ripple effect

  • on campus through our teaching, through having

  • student affiliates, graduate and undergraduates.

  • And, perhaps, over time, we will see

  • opportunities for changing the public discourse

  • and developing it into something that

  • can create better solutions or at least

  • better debates about them.

  • STEPHEN MACEDO: Yeah.

  • We probably need to understand why people see this issue,

  • you know, so differently, disagree so widely --

  • where they're coming from, what their perceptions

  • are, what their misperceptions are,

  • and how this can be clarified.

  • One of the things I find most interesting

  • is that this is an issue that doesn't

  • cut across the usual left-right divide cleanly.

  • There are liberals that worry about high levels

  • of immigration because of the impact on the working class.

  • There are conservatives that worry

  • about high levels of immigration both for that reason

  • but also because of effects on the culture

  • and because of concerns about cultural stability.

  • On the other hand, there are progressives

  • that are in favor, of course, of high levels of immigration,

  • generous policy towards refugees and poorer

  • migrants from abroad.

  • And, likewise, there are conservatives

  • who believe in open markets and open borders, a little

  • more libertarian.

  • So these issues are difficult ones

  • for both of the major political parties, in a way.

  • And it makes them interesting.

  • Then the question of who is a refugee

  • is a central one that hasn't been all together settled.

  • It's a disputed category in international law.

  • And are people that move out of great poverty refugees

  • or merely economic migrants?

  • A lot of these issues need a lot more attention

  • as a matter of policy and law.

  • SANDRA BERMANN: Absolutely.

  • And one of the fascinating things

  • is the whole use of language and translation, because what

  • if you are migrant and you do not

  • understand the language of the country

  • into which you've migrated?

  • To have good translation that's consistent --

  • these questions have always fascinated me.

  • And I think those were some of the issues that attracted me,

  • at the beginning, trying to think about this much more

  • broadly.

  • So there are all these questions in the humanities

  • that fit into this larger issue of migration.

  • STEPHEN MACEDO: I guess another question

  • is, you know, what does it mean to be an American?

  • And what does it mean to be French in periods of rising

  • and large-scale immigration?

  • How do narratives change?

  • And I know that scholars of literature are studying that.

  • SANDRA BERMANN: Absolutely.

  • I mean, the question of narratives and narratives

  • of migration is absolutely huge and crosses the disciplines.

  • And we each look at it very differently.

  • But if you think of, as you were saying,

  • the narratives that tell us our nationhood

  • or why governments choose certain programs --

  • migration programs -- then there are also

  • the journalistsstories that try

  • to get very close to the migrant lives and can be short

  • or in book form.

  • And then there are, of course, all the literary narratives --

  • literary and filmic, visual arts, music --

  • that explore other aspects of it.

  • So it's a huge question -- a huge cultural question.

  • STEPHEN MACEDO: Yeah.

  • And one of the exciting things about the research community

  • is that scholars bring all of these different perspectives

  • to bear.

  • I mean, some people are unnerved by these changes in what it

  • means to be an American.

  • SANDRA BERMANN: Of course.

  • STEPHEN MACEDO: But the American story

  • is one of constant change.

  • SANDRA BERMANN: Absolutely.

  • STEPHEN MACEDO: And it's great strength

  • that we have an immigrant history.

  • SANDRA BERMANN: It's so interesting

  • to hear what other national perspectives are on this, which

  • can be very different, and to have people in our research

  • community who are working on, you know, the Pacific Asian

  • world, who are working on Europe and also

  • Latin America and the U.S. and many other parts of the world,

  • the Middle East.

  • So it's really very interesting comparatively, as well,

  • in terms of region.

  • STEPHEN MACEDO: Yeah.

  • And we've got here some of the best scholars in the Woodrow

  • Wilson School, sociology, political science,

  • in my neck of the woods, also -- philosophy, economics --

  • working on both the empirical and the moral dimensions

  • of these questions.

  • And I look forward to, you know, doing more.

  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

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B1 US sandra stephen migration immigration literary translation

A conversation on migration

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    Sunny posted on 2017/11/04
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