On Wednesday, March 30, the Cuban Heritage Collection hosted the North American launch of the book The State and the Grassroots: Immigrant Transnational Organizations in Four Continents. The book, which explores immigration topics through the lens of sociology and public health, was co-edited by Alejandro Portes, University of Miami Professor of Sociology and Law. The event was co-presented with the Miami Institute for the Americas and UM’s Department of Sociology.
A panel of experts, including David Abraham (University of Miami Professor of Law), Jorge Dominguez (Harvard University Academy for International and Area Studies Chair), and Felicia Knaul (University of Miami Professor and Director of the Miami Institute for the Americas), examined Dr. Portes’ work. President Julio Frenk delivered the closing remarks.
Portes described his inspiration for the book as “the way immigrants organize to both defend themselves and their identities. They promote their well-being in the receiving countries as well as protagonism in the regions and countries from which they came.”
One key finding of his work is that in many cases immigration as a cyclical process, in which people move back and forth between home and receiving countries, is not a “zero-sum game.” “People are very much attached to the culture and language that they came from, and such attachments are not inimical to successful cultural and political incorporation in the receiving country,” he said.
In the closing remarks, President Julio Frenk, who earned his doctorate in sociology from the University of Michigan, said the book allowed him to revisit his scholarly roots. “I enjoyed reading both the insights and the arcane language of my colleagues in the social sciences,” he said. He also noted the event marked his first book launch since becoming president of the University of Miami. “These events greatly contribute to the intellectual vigor of our institution.”