Princeton Migrations community project will feature exhibitions, performances, lectures and more

As part of the Migrations Project, journalist Sonia Nazario will discuss the dangers Latin American children face while traveling across Mexico to reunite with parents living in the United States.

More than thirty area non-profit organizations and several Princeton University departments and programs will explore the theme of migrations for the next several months.

The Princeton Public Library, the Princeton University Art Museum, The Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, McCarter Theatre, the Witherspoon-Jackson Historical and Cultural Society, and Womanspace are some of the partners who will explore the theme and how it relates to each organization’s work and programming.

Princeton University Art Museum director James Steward had the idea for the project. “Immigration and its real-world  consequences are so much in our minds that we wanted to open a conversation that includes the migrations of animals and even of ideas, and in doing so to increase the resonance across ideas and organizations,” he said.

Migrations may include seasonal migrations of workers in the increasingly global economy of labor; the historical movements of peoples in response to famine, war or economic crisis and change, such as the great migration of African Americans from south to north in the mid-20th century; the seasonal migrations of various species, such as the shad that have been blocked from migrating up New Jersey’s rivers since the eighteenth century; or the movement of ideas along the Silk Road of the ancient east, organizers said.

“Migrations are part of the fabric of this place,” said Izzy Kasdin, executive director of the Historical Society of Princeton. “Whether it’s the origins of Princeton as a carriage outpost for people moving between major colonial metropolises, as a refuge for persecuted scholars or as a juncture of natural and man-made waterways, in so many ways migration and change is integral to Princeton’s heritage and identity.”

Janie Hermann, the Princeton Public Library’s public programming librarian, said the library did a series about immigration with the novel “The Book of Unknown Americans” by Cristina Henriquez as the centerpiece in 2015.

“The series looked at immigration on a global, national and local scale while taking a deep dive in to immigration issues and patterns historically and as well as today. The Princeton Migrations project differs in that it is much broader in scope, with immigration being only one of several themes being explored,” Hermann said. “Through broad-based partnerships, this series will look at the way that not only people migrate, but also how goods and materials, animals, and idea migrate. Though the opening event with Sonia Nazario  is examining immigration issues as they impact the United States today, and seeking solutions to these problems, the Princeton Migrations project is so much more and is sure to have something for everyone.”

A special website has been created,, that highlights the programs and exhibitions that are part of the Princeton Migrations Project.

Calendar of Migrations programs

Jan. 27 through July 29 – The exhibition “Migration and Material Alchemy” features twelve contemporary artists who address issues such as cultural continuity, the AIDS crisis, environmental degradation and population displacement. (Princeton University Art Museum)

On view through April 30 – The exhibition “Crossing Borders” examines the flight of refugees through Pulitzer Prize–winning photographer Yannis Behrakis’s coverage of the recent migrant crisis in Greece, as well as images taken by Hun School students and faculty during their firsthand exploration of border and migration issues along the boundaries of the United States and Mexico. (The Hun School of Princeton)

Feb. 1 – Talk with Pulitzer Prize–winning author Sonia Nazario, author of “Enrique’s Journey,” about the dangers that Latin American children face while journeying across Mexico to reunite with parents living in the United States (Princeton Public Library)

Feb. 5 through May 7 – The lecture series “Migration and Human Values” features lectures at Princeton University by five prominent researchers in the humanities and social sciences. They will discuss the ethical implications of migration and immigration research from different points of view. (Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, Princeton University)

Feb. 7 through June 24 – The exhibition “Rex Goreleigh: Migrant Worker’s Witness” features the work of this African American artist, known for his Migrant Series, which brought to light the difficult conditions faced by African American migrant laborers on the farms of Central New Jersey in the 1950s through the 1970s. (Historical Society of Princeton)

Feb. 12 – Argentinian Bandoneon and Guitar Tango performance by Matilde Vitullo and Pino Enriquez. (Program in Latin American Studies, Princeton University)

Feb. 17 through 23: The interactive performance “Nice Town, Normal People” features live, original music and a script based on excerpts from nearly 100 interviews related to the theme of “home” conducted by Kyle Berlin, Princeton University student and representative of a new non-profit community theater company in Princeton. (RhizomeTheater Company)

Feb. 24 through Sept. 30 – The exhibition “Photography and Belonging” investigates the ways in which human experiences of belonging and alienation have long been both subject and effect of photography. (Princeton University Art Museum)

Feb. 27 through April 24 – A series of classes entitled “This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land…Immigration and the US” asks experts to take a look at immigration in its many manifestations–historical, economic, social, political, legal, religious and musical. (The Princeton Adult School)

Feb. 28 – The “Open Archive: An Immigrant Story” event will allow visitors to interact with little-seen artifacts and documents from the Historical Society of Princeton’s vast collection and then be encouraged to make observations and ask questions of the curator of collections and research. (Historical Society of Princeton)

March 5 – Author talk with Neel Mukherjee and Jhumpa Lahiri, who will discuss “A Life Apart.” This is the first of four author talks in a migrations-related series at Labyrinth Books. Neel Mukherjee is the author of :A Life Apart: and winner of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Award for best fiction. Jhumpa Lahiri is a Pulitzer Prize–winning author and teaches creative writing at the Lewis Center for the Arts. (Labyrinth Books)

March 9 – Puerto Rico Colloquium, Part II: “Debt and Colonialism in the Aftermath of Hurricane Maria.” (Program in Latin American Studies, Princeton University)

March 11 – Film screening of “Winged Migration“, an epic portrait of winter bird migration filmed on all seven continents over four years. Professor Judith Zinis of Ocean County College will lead a post screening discussion on the role of music in the making of this documentary and others. (Princeton Public Library)

March 13 through April 1 – The 15th anniversary production of “Crowns” at McCarter Theatre explores a young woman’s discovery of self when she returns to her Southern roots. Directed by Regina Taylor and based on the book by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry. (McCarter Theatre)

March 15 – The panel event “Words without Borders: The Translation of Books” features professional translators who will discuss the craft and challenges of translation through the lens of migrating text between languages. David Bellos, director of the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication at Princeton University, will moderate the panel. Panelists will include the well known translator Shelley Frisch and others. (Princeton Public Library)

March 21 – Film screening of “Daughters of the Dust” (1991), a look at the Gullah culture of the sea islands off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia, where African folkways were maintained well into the 20th century—one of the last bastions of these mores in America. Set in 1902. (Princeton Garden Theatre)

April 6 through June 1 – An exhibition of photographs collected by Centurion Ministries features portraits of formerly incarcerated individuals who were exonerated after serving time for crimes that they did not commit. (Centurion Ministries and Arts Council of Princeton)

April 7 and 8 – Music Conference: “De Canciones y Cancioneros: Music and Literary Sources of the Luso-Hispanic Song Tradition.” (Program in Latin American Studies, Princeton University)

April 12 – A Conversation with photographer Fazal Sheikh and Eduardo Cadava, professor of English at Princeton University, about the politics of migration and exclusion, particularly as it relates to Executive Order 13769 of January 27, 2017. This order blocked entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. (Princeton University Art Museum).

April 14 – “Salon on Stockton: A Little Literary Festival in Princeton” features four writers on war and migration: Neal Ascherson, Christopher Dickey, Sally Magnusson and Lynne Olson. (Morven Museum & Garden)

April 14 through 20 – The photography exhibition “Our Town–Princeton” features the specially commissioned work of artist Carolyn Scott celebrating Princeton residents from many countries and with many migration stories. (Center for Theological Inquiry)

Late April, early May (date to be determined) -The panel discussion “Speaking of History” about historical and contemporary migrant labor will explore contemporary issues and their historical context. In conjunction with the Rex Goreleigh exhibition. (Historical Society of Princeton and the Princeton Department of Human Services)

May 4 through 6 – The conference “Changing Nationalisms in an Era of Internationalism,” organized by Patricia Fernandez-Kelly, Alicia Adsera and Sandie Bermann. (Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, Princeton University)

May 17 – Screening of “Persepolis” (2007), which tells the story of a precocious and outspoken Iranian girl growing up during the Islamic Revolution. (Princeton Garden Theatre)

Dates to be determined: “Local Women in the Crowns: A Portraits and Stories Community Project” is an initiative organized in conjunction with McCarter Theatre’s production of “Crowns.” Local and regional African-American women are photographed in their church hats and invited to share their stories. The project will culminate in a photography exhibition displayed at the Princeton Public Library, Princeton Theological Seminary, the Arts Council of Princeton and in the lobbies of McCarter for the run of Crowns, celebrating African-American culture, tradition and storytelling. (Arts Council of Princeton, Princeton Public Library, Princeton Theological Seminary, McCarter Theatre) Mid-May, date and location TBD: Princeton Migrations Celebration Event will encourage a dialogue with participants in Migrations about what they experienced over the run of the community-wide initiative.