Mission Statement/Background


The State of Maryland is rapidly changing its population profile with an unprecedented influx of immigrants from all over the world. The research community has paid insufficient attention to this growing sector of the population, and little is known particularly regarding socio-economic interactions, impact on inter-ethnic relationships at the neighborhood level, and the structure of opportunity available to immigrants in the labor, health, and housing sectors of the economy. The policy community, on the other hand, relying on population statistics that undercount many invisible populations, has primarily focused on the social problems created by the newly arrived, particularly as they put pressure on some inadequately funded services.


The Immigrant Life Course Research Program (ILCRP), established by Dr. Judith Freidenberg in 2000, seeks to build links between research and policy communities to better understand the effects and outcomes of the recent flow of immigrants to the State of Maryland.  Its research has concentrated on Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, where an increasingly diverse immigrant inflow has led to dramatic changes in the everyday life of neighborhoods and communities.


Of particular interest to the ILCRP are three major low-income immigrant enclaves in the six census tracts selected for data collection: Langley Park, Hyattsville and Riverdale. The majority immigrant population in those neighborhoods originates in Latin America (El Salvador and Guatemala, respectively).  The neighborhoods have changed dramatically in the last decade, from a majority European American resident population to a majority Latino population. Likewise, the three neighborhoods have experienced an enormous growth of undocumented immigrants as well as a substantial increase in diversity of immigrant stock.


Projects conducted by the ILCRP in Maryland include Elderly Latinos and Retirement Experiences, Immigrant Women and Work, the virtual exhibit Inside/Out: Growing Old in the United States (a collaboration with the Smithsonian Latino Center), an Immigrant Community Museum (by the Center for Heritage Resource Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park), and University Boulevard Ethnographic Mapping.  A recent project of the ILCRP has been to collect life histories of immigrants from major regions of origin using video technology to allow for public dissemination of their experience. Additionally, the ILCRP has been effective in establishing partnerships with community organizations to encourage University of Maryland student service learning in conjunction with the Ethnology of the Immigrant Life Course taught by Dr. Freidenberg.


The program director is Dr. Judith Freidenberg, Associate Professor with the Department of Anthropology at the University of Maryland. Her team includes undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds who gain honorary mention or credit from a variety of mechanisms including undergraduate research assistant programs, honors Programs, and experiential learning programs.


Dr. Judith Freidenberg

Judith Freidenberg


Dr. Judith Freidenberg, originally from Argentina, received an M.A. in Anthropology from the Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires in 1969, and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the City University of New York in 1978. Since then she has conducted a Post-Doctoral Fellowship with the National Institute of Mental Health from 1981-1984, and has received a Certificate in Social Gerontology from the Center on Aging at the University of Maryland in 2005.


Soon after joining the Department of Anthropology at the University of Maryland in 1995, Dr. Freidenberg noticed a pervasive disconnect amongst policy and research communities when approaching Maryland’s burgeoning immigrant population. Another disconnect she observed was between the students on campus and their awareness of the global world represented by their neighbors close by.  As a result, she enacted numerous research programs aimed at linking such factions while also reaching out to immigrant populations in order to project their voices into the public discourse on immigration. She founded the Anthropology of the Immigrant Life Course Research program in 2000 to accomplish such goals.


A link to Dr. Freidenberg’s CV can be found here.