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People on the Move (2017-2018)

​The Critical Engagements theme for 2017–2018 is People On the Move: Borders, Boundaries, and Migration. While our title deliberately evokes the concrete reality of literal walls, political boundaries, and the people who move between them, we are delighted to feature research,  teaching, and special events that address borders, boundaries, and migration from a broad range of perspectives, including figurative ones. The events and activities listed below pick out some of the most important ways in which our college and university are addressing this critical issue.

Notable Past Events, 2017–2018

September 13, 2017 — “Boundary Voices: Snapshots of the Student Experience at Central Michigan University”

Exhibit opening, "125 Years Through 125 Voices,” Clarke Historical Library. Presentation by Brittany Fremion and Jay Martin on the oral history project on which the exhibit is based.

October 17, 2017 — Women and Gender: Boundaries, Borders, and Migration

Presentations included: Jon Humiston, “Defying Boundaries—Transgressing the Gender Binary”; Ulana Klymyshyn, “Assimilation Is Unavoidable”; Tara McCarthy, “Women and the Irish Diaspora”; Ted Clayton, “Who Sets the Boundaries? —Some Thoughts on Men and Feminism”; and Lisa Gandy, “Women in Tech: An Important Struggle.”

October 24, 2017 — The 21st–Century ‘Clean Energy’ Economy: Crossing Traditional Boundaries

Panel discussion featuring Scott Hawken, Apex Clean Energy; Liesl Clark, Michigan EIBC; Teresa Hatcher, CMS Energy; and Tom Rohrer, Great Lakes Institute for Sustainable Systems. Sponsored by the Central Michigan University School of Public Service and Global Citizenship, Great Lakes Institute for Sustainable Systems, and CHSBS.

October 30, 2017 — “Off the Record, On the Road: Borders, Boundaries and Migration” (Griffin Policy Forum)

Panelists for the Fall 2017 Griffin Policy Forum include Bill Ballenger, Zoe Clark, and Chuck Stokes. The forum was moderated by Tim Skubick, senior capitol correspondent for WKAR and anchor and producer of the weekly public television series “Off the Record.” 

November 9, 2017 — Laura Jockusch, “Between Vengeance and Reconciliation: Jewish Honor Courts in the Aftermath of the Holocaust" (Abel Lecture)

Laura Jockusch discussed Jewish legal responses to the Holocaust by looking at trials that the Jewish communities held against Holocaust survivors accused of having "collaborated" with the Nazis. Such court cases occurred in Jewish communities across Europe in the early postwar period and only later became a taboo topic for several decades. Dr. Jockusch is the Albert Abramson Assistant Professor of Holocaust Studies at Brandeis University.

November 16, 2017 — Marcello Di Cintio, “The Wall Disease: What Does It Mean to Live Along the World’s Hardest Edges?”

Image of Marcello Di Cintio

Thursday, November 16, 2017
7:00 p.m.
Powers Hall Ballroom
View the Marcello Di Cintio event poster

The CriticalEngagements inaugural keynote featured Marcello Di Cintio, who led discussions and delivered a public lecture entitled The Wall Disease: What Does It Mean to Live Along the World’s Hardest Edges? 

Marcello is the author of the award-winning book Walls: Travels Along the Barricades, a book he wrote by visiting walls and fences in Algeria, Morocco, the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, Israel, Palestine, India, Cyprus, Montreal, Belfast and along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Video of Marcello Di Cintio's presentation at Central Michigan University
(CMU log-in required) Filmed 11/16/17

Read: Author explores life beside walls
CMU press release - 11/7/17

View Event Photo Gallery
Posted to Facebook 11/17/17

January 18, 2018 — Marc Kleijwegt on Documenting Slavery

In a presentation that features perforce the involuntary movement of people across boundaries of all kinds, Marc Kleijwegt, Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will give a talk on “Documenting Slavery in Comparative Perspective: Evidence from the Ancient and the Transatlantic World” on January 18 at 5:00pm in Powers 200. Sponsored by the Department of History.

February 1 and 2, 2018 — Christia Mercer on Crossing Boundaries

On February 1 at 7:00pm in the Park Library Auditorium Christia Mercer, Gustave M. Berne Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University, will speak on “Crossing Boundaries/Rethinking Justice, or How the U.S. Prison Industrial Complex Undermines Our Democracy.” Professor Mercer will speak again at 4pm on February 2 on “Crossing Boundaries/Rethinking the History of Philosophy, or How Women Changed the Course of Philosophy,” also in the Park Library Auditorium. Sponsored by the Department of Philosophy and Religion.

February 22, 2018 - Dale Hutchinson on Disease and Demography

Dr. Dale Hutchinson, professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will give a presentation on "Disease and Demography: Reconstructing Health in Colonial North America 5 p.m. Thursday, February 22 in Anspach 162. His research interests include the prehistory of the eastern United States and Andean South America, the origins and health consequences of social and economic transitions (agriculture, state, European contact), and skeletal biology as a means of interpreting the nutritional and health status of past populations. Sponsored by the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work and the College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences' Critical Engagements initiative. For more information, contact Sergio Chavez at 989-774-3656 or

February 27, 2018 - Film Screening

Join us for a screening and discussion of the film Sleep Dealer6 p.m. Tuesday, February 27 in Anspach 161. Rivera tells urgent and visually adventurous stories about labor, immigration, technology, and trans-border exchange. He is a Sundance Fellow, Rockefeller Fellow and in 2012 was the Rothschild Lecturer in the History of Science Department at Harvard. Sponsored by the Department of World Languages and Cultures and the College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences' Critical Engagements initiative. For more information, contact Roberto Mendoza (WLC) at 989-774-3786 or mendo3r@cmich.eduOpen event flier

March 19, 2018 — Hendrik Meijer on Arthur Vandenberg

Hendrik Meijer, co-chairman and CEO of Meijer, Inc. and author of Arthur Vandenberg: The Man in the Middle of the American Century (University of Chicago Press, 2017), will give a talk about the book at the Park Library Auditorium at 7pm on March 19.  Vandenberg, who represented Michigan in the U. S. Senate from 1928 to 1951, was a prominent isolationist in the 1930s who came to question his position by the end of World War II. “Our oceans,” he declared in a famous speech in January 1945, “have ceased to be moats.” A lifelong Republican, Vandenberg went on to work with two Democratic administrations in the creation of the post-war foreign policy that would come to define “the American century.” A reception will follow the talk. Sponsored by the Clarke Historical Library and Critical Engagements.

March 21, 2018 — Megan Bradley on Refugees (Abel Lecture)

Megan Bradley, assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and the Institute for the Study of International Development at McGill University, will deliver the spring 2018 Abel Lecture "Ending Exile: The Meaning and Making of Solutions to Refugee Crises" on Wednesday, March 21, at 7pm in the Powers Ballroom. Her research interests include refugees and forced migration, human rights, transitional justice, humanitarianism, peacebuilding, international organizations, and international development. She was a nonresident fellow in the Brookings Institution Foreign Policy program and is the editor of Forced Migration, Reconciliation and Justice (2015) and author of Refugee Repatriation: Justice, Responsibility and Redress (2013). Sponsored by the Harold Abel Endowed Lecture Series in the Study of Dictatorship, Democracy and Genocide

March 22, 2018 — Steven Gold on “Undocumented Immigrant and Self-Employment in the Informal Economy”

Steven Gold, Professor of Sociology at Michigan State University, will give a talk entitled “Undocumented Immigrants and Self-Employment in the Informal Economy” on Thursday, March 22 at 4:30pm in the Park Library Auditorium.

March 28, 2018 — Jason De León on Undocumented Immigration

Jason De León presents “Soldiers and Kings: Violence, Representation, and Photoethnographic Practice in the Context of Human Smuggling Across Mexico,” on 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 28 in the Park Library Auditorium. Since 2015, Dr. de León has been involved in an analog photoethnographic project focused on documenting the daily lives of Honduran smugglers who profit from transporting undocumented migrants across Mexico. In this talk he discusses the relationship between transnational gangs and the human smuggling industry and outlines the complicated role that photography plays as a field method and data source in this violent and ethically challenging ethnographic context. 

Jason De León is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. He is director of the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP), a long-term study of clandestine border crossing that uses a combination of ethnographic, archaeological, and forensic approaches to understand this phenomenon in a variety of geographic contexts including the Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona, Northern Mexican border towns, and the southern Mexico/Guatemala border. His book The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail, published by the University of California in 2015, was the recipient of the 2016 Margaret Mead Award (American Anthropological Association) and the 2018 Staley Prize (School for Advanced Research). In 2017 Jason De León was selected as a fellow of the John D and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Sponsored by the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work and the College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences' Critical Engagements Initiative. For more information, contact Rachel Caspari at 989-774-3160 or

April 3, 2018 - Sovereign Game Prototyping Workshop

What would analog game prototyping look like using Indigenously-determined materials like leather, beads, copper, and birch bark? What kinds of games can we imagine that reflect sovereign bodies and relationships? What game spaces can we co-create which we are reciprocal with?

Elizabeth LaPensée is an award-winning designer, writer, artist, and researcher who creates and studies Indigenous-led media such as games and comics. Most recently, she designed and created art for Thunderbird Strike (2017), a lightning-searing side scroller video game, as well as Honour Water (2016), an Anishinaabe singing game for healing water. Her work also includes analog games, such as The Gift of Food (2014), a board game about Northwest Native traditional foods.

Sponsored by the Olga J. and G. Roland Denison Visiting Professorship of Native American Studies​ within the College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences at Central Michigan University and the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture and Lifeways.

April 6–7, 2018 — “Real and Imagined Borders: People, Place Time,” International Graduate Historical Studies Conference

The International Graduate Historical Studies Conference will host “Real and Imagined Borders: People, Place, Time” at CMU’s main campus in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, on April 6–7. The keynote speaker for the 2018 conference is Alan Taylor, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor of History at the University of Virginia. Since 1995, Dr. Taylor has won two Pulitzer Prizes as well as the Bancroft Prize, and was a finalist for the National Book Awards for non-fiction. Sponsored by the Department of History.

April 9, 2018 - Griffin Forum on Redistricting

Panelists for the Spring 2018 Griffin Forum will discuss redistricting, the process used to determine voting districts and boundaries, and how the political map determines elections. "The Redistricting Dilemma: How the Political Map Determines Elections" begins at 7 p.m. Monday, April 9 in the Park Library Auditorium. Panelists include: Bernie Porn, founding principal and president of the survey research firm EPIC-MRA; Steve Mitchell, chairman of Mitchell Research & Communications, Inc.; and attorney and Central Michigan University alumnus Nathan Inks. The forum will be moderated by Michigan political pundit Bill Ballenger. Sponsored by the Robert and Marjorie Griffin Endowed Chair in American Government, the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, and the College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences.

April 11, 2018 — Lauren Ouellette, An American in Kyoto

Lauren Ouellette is a CMU Multicultural Advancement and Cofer Scholar. Raised in the U.S., Ouellette has been studying Japanese and traveling to Japan to reconnect with family roots there. She will describe her transformative cross-cultural encounters while visiting the Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto, on Wednesday, April 11, at 7:00pm in the Park Library Auditorium.

April 12, 2018 — Ruth Ozeki on A Tale for the Time Being

Ruth Ozeki is a professor at Smith College, a novelist, filmmaker and Zen Buddhist priest. She will discuss via Skype her 2013 award-winning novel A Tale for Time Being on Thursday, April 12, at 3:30pm in the Park Library Auditorium. From the Washington Post: ”Most of [Ozeki‘s] work is semi-autobiographical with repeating themes of transnational, mixed-race identity, the blurring of fact and fiction, and the impact individuals have on their environments — and vice versa.”

April 13, 2018 - A Conversation on the Global Refugee Crisis

Featuring keynote speakers from Michigan nonprofit agencies, professional and student research, and passionate student organizations, this event is your chance to learn about the global refugee crisis and how you can get involved. The event begins at 12:00 p.m. Friday, April 13 in Anspach 162. Sponsored by the Refugee Outreach Collective (ROC), the Institute for Migration and Refugee Studies, the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, and the College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences' Critical Engagements initiative. For more information, contact Prakash Adhikari at 989-774-1926 or

April 27, 2018 - Teaching and Organizing for Immigrant Families, Students and Human Rights: Alumni Share their Stories of Activism

Join us Friday, April 27 from 8:30 to 11:00 a.m. in Anspach 150 for a conversation with two CMU alumni engaged in activism: Caitlin Homrich-Knieling, Immigrant Family Defense Organizer at Michigan United; and Matthew Homrich-Knieling, English Language Arts Teacher and Social Justice Activist at Cesar Chavez Academy

  • Caitlin Homrich-Knieling graduated from CMU with a major in Anthropology and minors in English and Spanish. Her advocacy for immigrant families in Detroit has been featured on Michigan Radio, and in her talk “From Academy to Advocacy: Stories of a Sanctuary Campaign,” Caitlin will share her journey from CMU to full-time activism as it intertwines with the stories of immigrant families. 
  • Matt Homrich-Knieling graduated from CMU’s English education program with certification in English Language Arts and history. In his talk “Shifting Power: An Immigration Justice Action Project with Latinx Students,” Matt will share how he engages students in ELA curriculum that responds to the needs of the local community and connects with larger human rights issues. His work has been featured in NCTE’s Voices from the Middle journal and podcast series as well as various blogs, including Education Week and Literacy & NCTE
This presentation is sponsored by the Department of English Language and Literature and the College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences' Critical Engagements initiative