UA Little Rock, community partners to host six-week film, discussion series on immigration in America

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock is part of a community partnership that will host a six-week public programming film and discussion series about immigration in America March 7 to April 16.

A $1,300 grant from the National Endowment for Humanities brings the immigration program series, “Becoming American: A Documentary Film and Discussion Series on Our Immigration Experience,” to Little Rock. The grant was awarded to UA Little Rock’s Ottenheimer Library and Anderson Institute on Race and Ethnicity, as well as the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS), El Zocalo, and Philander Smith College.

UA Little Rock is one of only 32 cultural and educational institutions in the U.S. selected to participate in the “Becoming American” series, a project by Cite Lore in collaboration with the Immigration and Ethnic History Society and the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.

The series events, which are free and open to the public, will feature documentary film screenings and scholar-led discussions designed to encourage an informed discussion of immigration issues against the backdrop of our immigration history. The discussion will include topics like immigration and work, the history of immigration in American, prejudice against immigrants, and immigration in popular culture.

Events include the following:

  •      Thursday, March 7, 6 p.m. UA Little Rock Downtown. “The Century of Immigration: 1820-1934” chronicles the period when 40 million immigrants entered the U.S., making immigration a major and defining aspect of American life. Film excerpts from “New York: A Documentary Film” and “The Jewish Americans” followed by a discussion led by Marta Cieslak, assistant professor of history.
  •      Thursday, March 14, 5:30 p.m. CALS Williams Library. “Between Two Worlds: Identity and Acculturation” looks at how immigrants react and adjust to living in a new country and culture, and how they bridge the divide between the traditions and values of their native countries. Film excerpts from “The New Americans” followed by a discussion by Neveen Shafeek Amin, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology.
  •      Saturday, March 23, 3 p.m. CALS Dee Brown Library. “Family and Community” explores how family ties and community institutions have played an essential role in successful migration and adaptation to American life. Film excerpts from “My American Girls” followed by a discussion led by Adriana Lopez-Ramirez, assistant professor of sociology.
  •      Tuesday, March 26, 5:30 p.m. UA Little Rock Ottenheimer Library Room 535. “Promise and Prejudice” explores the tension – historic and current – between Americans’ acceptance of immigrants, including the celebration of their own immigrant heritage, versus the periodic backlash prompted by concern about the economic and cultural effects of newcomers. Film excerpts from “Welcome to Shelbyville” followed by a discussion led by Brian Mitchell, assistant professor of history.
  •      Thursday, April 11, 6 p.m. CALS Nixon Library. “Help Wanted? Immigration and Work” looks at the economic side of immigration, chronicling the essential part immigrant labor has played in building America, as well as the conflicted relationship American workers have had with immigrants. Film excerpt of “Destination America” followed by a discussion led by Brian Mitchell, assistant professor of history.
  •      Tuesday, April 16, 7 p.m. CALS Ron Robinson Theater. “Immigration and Popular Culture” examines the ways the media and popular culture have historically taught newcomers how to “be American,” and how the rich contributions of different immigrant groups have transformed American culture and art. Film excerpt of “The Search for General Tso” by Ian Cheney followed by a discussion led by Andrew Amstutz, assistant professor of history.
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