Chicago Mosaic: Immigrant Stories of Objects Kept, Lost or Left Behind

February 16th, 2024

Amy Tyson and Chris Solís Green co-edited Chicago Mosaic: Immigrant Stories of Objects Kept, Lost or Left Behind and began their exploration by co-teaching a DePaul University class on Chicago immigration. As part of the class, they researched immigration issues and patterns across the country—see the reading list below. Through both their research and in conducting interviews with people across Chicago, they realized that, like any American city, Chicago is made up of a mix of stark regrets and hopes of its immigrants, all of which are manifest in the city's material culture. Some of the objects in this volume represent difficult memories of family left behind; others point to the possibility of prosperity for future generations. Ultimately, Chicago Mosaic offers a way for us to listen to stories that may not be our own, but that remind us that we are all vulnerable to the world’s economic, political, and climatic shifts, no matter where we’re from. 

Marilyn, Davis, Mexican Voices American Dreams: An Oral History of Mexican Immigration to the United States 

Davis uses edited oral histories to share first person accounts of im/migrant journeys across the U.S./México border.  

Aviva Chomsky, Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal

Historically, what we have come to think of as “illegal” immigration is a fairly recent phenomenon.  Aviva Chomsky walks us through the history of immigration in the United States to explain shifts in immigration laws and the ways those laws have shifted public perceptions of the “illegal.”  

Tiya Miles, All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake (New York: Random House, 2021). 

Before her daughter Ashley was sold away from her in the mid 1800s Rose, an enslaved mother, gave Ashley a sack filled with a handful of pecans, a braid of Rose’s hair, a dress, and "my love always." The two would never to see each other again, but Ashley passed the sack, and the story of its contents down through the generations. Tiya Miles powerfully traces the meanings of these objects to piece together a family history spanning several generations, and to shed light on the trauma of forced migrations, and on the enduring power of one mother’s love. 

Juan Perea, Immigrants Out! The New Nativism and the Anti-Immigrant Impulse in the United States 

This anthology of original essays emphasizes the changing relationship between citizens and immigrants. It examines past and contemporary waves of anti- immigrant sentiment. Overall, it provides a healthy perspective on what has become a toxic topic in America.

David Bacon, Displacement and Migration: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants 

Illegal People describes how national policy creates displacement and an increasingly divided society. It argues for an entirely new way of thinking about how we legislate immigration in an increasingly globalized world. 

Rachel Buff, ed., Immigrant Rights in the Shadows of Citizenship

Immigrant Rights in the Shadows of U.S. Citizenship combines contributions by both activists and scholars. These contributors put immigrant rights in a historical perspective and also examine immigrant rights around issues of identity (gender, race, and sexuality).

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