Migration & Culture     Spring 2004    Prof Koptiuch    Arizona State University West    Phoenix, Arizona

Crossing the Valley

A Multimedia Ethnography Project about Immigrants in Phoenix

DUE: Progress Report 4/28; Completed Web Pages for Project due 5/12 

This class project takes its inspiration and design from Crossing the BLVD: Strangers, Neighbors, Aliens in a New America by Warren Lehrer & Judith Sloan (2003).

As a model for our own collaborative project, we use authors Lehrer & Sloan's  fascinating interviews with immigrants and refugees in Queens, a borough of New York City. We also  take inspiration from the book’s exciting graphics and informative factual asides to create our own web-based .  In our case, the site of our study is the sprawling metropolitan Phoenix Valley.  Like much of the rest of America, Phoenix is an urban and transnational social landscape increasingly rich with “strangers, neighbors, aliens,” whose migration stories are every bit as intriguing as those Lehrer & Sloan encountered in Queens. Building from the interdisciplinary social science approaches and perspectives on im/migration patterns and processes that we’ve studied in our course, we will “document the signs of migratory life, normally hidden within the seemingly mundane, sometimes hideous urban landscape” of the Valley.  We look for migration stories “in the shadows between the superstores,” where we find that the global has moved right in to our local communities. In conducting our own close-to-home expeditions, each student’s individual contribution of an interview-based case study will help to create a collaborative, synergistic whole that is more rich and complex than its separate parts.

INDEX: A. Requirements   B. Supplements    C. Analysis    D. Web Design   E. Addendum    Top
A. Requirements.  Research for this project is based primarily on the student's own fieldwork observations and interview(s)—not library or Internet research.  It may take10-15 pages of text, and several web pages, to cover all the requirements.  As detailed below, each student’s contribution should consist of: A. Migrant Interview Questions.  Each student should interview at least one migrant.  This interview is the centerpiece of your project. Try to elicit answers to the following questions that we brainstormed together in class—the actual questions you ask to arrive at these answers may vary, depending on your own interview situation.
  • Why did the migrants leave home? Consider push/pull factors.  Important: probe for reasons beyond the simple ready answer, “in search of a better life”—unpack this phrase!
  • Who/what was migrant’s “bridge” to US? (see Sassen’s “Why Migration” on “bridge”)
  • When did they migrate?  Try to situate them in relation to the post-1965 “new immigration” to the US, and the past 35 years of intensive labor migration as part of global restructuring.
  • How do migrants fit in/adjust to US?  What do they do here now (work, school, family)?
  • Address issues such as cultural expectations, generational differences
  • What has been the migrant’s (or their migrant community’s) experience of treatment by larger US society?
  • How does/did the migrant deal with language barriers/bridges?
  • What were the migrant’s expectations of coming to the US?  Were these borne out?
  • What have been the best and the worst of the migrant’s experiences in their new homeland? (i.e. successes accomplished and problems faced)
  • How does migrant’s homeland regard emigrants?

  • Add any other issues or topics that emerge as important in your interview.

    Obtain permission.  At the start of your interview, be sure to inform your interviewee(s) that you are doing this interview for your class project, and that the end results will be in the Internet.

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    B. Supplementary Considerations. As in Crossing the BLVD, let us take the interviewees’ words at face value—they tell us their truth as they lived it, back home, in America, and in between. And to enhance the story, we should offer the following supplementary materials and support. You may want to use side-bars, linked pages, pop-ups for some of this info.

  • Short introduction by author—you! Explain how you met/know this person, arranged for interview(s); describe the setting in which your conversations took place, other people present, etc.  And feel free to interject asides elsewhere—just clarify who’s speaking.  Take your audience right into this scene with you!
  • First-person narrative/story—In order to give the viewpoint of the immigrant/refugee most directly, write their story from their viewpoint, based on your own interview notes. You do not need to record or quote their words verbatim, but avoid putting words in their mouths and avoid imposing your own judgments upon their story.
  • News facts—Supplement your interview with factual info relevant to your migrant, e.g. per capita income in migrant’s home country v US; percentage of US immigrants from your interviewee’s homeland; warfare, unemployment, national debt, economic restructuring; US immigration policy pertaining to your interviewee’s situation, etc.
  • Try using some bilingual text—to give us a flavor of your interviewee’s native tongue.
    • Current events? In Crossing the Valley many migrants address the important impact of 9/11/01 on their lives; other events may be more important for migrants to Arizona, such as the recent deaths of migrants in the desert crossing into our state, anti-immigrant sentiment, or US foreign policies.
    • Reader-response theory—remember that your audience brings/adds meaning to your presentation; give them some leeway to do so, e.g. pose questions (without giving answers) to the audience about the implications of your interview case for general migration issues; devise a “pop quiz” for your readers, etc.
    • Language use—Try to preserve unique language use by your interviewee—this does not mean you should emphasize any incorrect English, but rather pay attention to the particular uses of vocabulary that strike you as rich or complex, etc.
    • Tell a good story!  Your written pieces should do more than just present factual information, and your interview should be more than just verbatim or paraphrased answers. Remember your audience—the worldwide web readers! Make the story hang together, tell the story well!
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    C. Analysis, Interpretation, & Sources.  This should be about a two-page “brief.”

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    D. Web page design.  Design a homepage for your project, which you will link to your web portfolio and to a homepage for our collaborative Crossing the Valley project.  Give it a title, and link all the different pieces of your project to this page.  Include the following:

    • Photo of migrant—(with or without background) at least one really good photo; you may want to borrow a digital camera from the library for your interview.  Note: if your interviewee does not wish to have a recognizable photo on the web, take a photo that hides their identity but represents who they are in some other way.
    • Maps of migrant’s country of origin; try to pinpoint where they lived. Also include a map of the section of the Valley where the migrant lives/works.
    • Re-map the migrant’s local neighborhood in the Valley with a map of the migrant’s homeland (as in Crossing the BLVD); superimpose a cutout. 
    • Locate the nearest major intersection so that we can pinpoint the area and hot-link it on our overall project map. We may see how migrants from different cultures are functioning in the same, nearby, or distant surroundings.
    • Photo slices, close-ups, cutouts—use photos creatively, look for ideas in the book!
    • Include: a picture of the migrant in traditional dress or a picture of an object of significance of the migrant’s native land (like our own “family migration objects”).
    • Links to Internet sites about the migrant’s homeland, relevant migration sites, etc.
    • Use tables to help organize your pieces; experiment with different sizes/type of font to draw attention, create emphasis; be sure to size your images properly in Photoshop Elements (use 72 dpi resolution for web).
    • Don’t put everything on one web page—keep pages brief, it’s more effective to link multiple pages to your homepage for this project than to have one really long page.

    Your Crossing the Valley project will be the centerpiece to your overall web portfolio for the course. You may find that you need about 8-12 pages of text (double spaced), and several web pages, to cover all the requirements.  Please type up your text in your word processor before you copy it to your web pages, so that you can make changes easily.  Any text that you wish Dr K to read and comment on should be submitted by May 5 at the absolute latest.
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    E.  ADDENDUM:  A few more good ideas, drawn from your Five Key Ideas papers.

    More Interview Questions

    Interview Strategies Go with your gut feelingslisten to your interviewee and follow up on interesting issues they raise that we may not have anticipated in all our questions above.  Be flexible and open.

    Caution:  You can tape record your interview(s) if you wish.  But it is often very time consuming to transcribe the tape afterwards!  For our purposes you can do just as well by taking notes during the interview, and then using your notes shortly thereafter to write up a more complete version of the interview—don’t wait too long, or you’ll forget all the interesting details and dialogue!
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