The following is a list of past and present research conducted through the ILCRP.


Growing Old in El Barrio


From 1990 to 1995, Dr. Freidenberg conducted long-term fieldwork with aging Latinos in East Harlem, New York. Through the use of photo-elicitation interviewing, in which participants respond to visual stimuli of their social environment, Freidenberg explored issues related to community health and public policy. This technique proved effective in rooting participants' responses within their own socio-cultural vantage points, as opposed to that of the researcher. The final research products include a book titled, Growing Old in El Barrio (New York University Press), a short video with the same title, and an article titled “The Social Construction and Reconstruction of the Other: Fieldwork in El Barrio."


Elderly Latinos in Langley Park


Dr. Freidenberg conducted an ethnographic study of the elderly Latino population in Langley Park, Maryland. She found a lack of congruence between the perceptions of Latino elderly and their health/social care service providers with regards to the prioritization of health as an individual and collective need. The health and well being of Langley Park was explored with a team of colleagues and students and written up in The Journal of Latino-Latin American Studies.


Inside/Out: Growing Old in the United States


Inside/Out: Growing Old in the U.S., curated by Dr. Judith Freidenberg, started as an ethnographic project which sought to elicit how elderly Latinos in low-income urban enclaves in the United States perceived their own aging experiences. The resulting virtual exhibit was conceptualized and designed as a means to communicate some of the research results. Launched online in 2002, the exhibit explores two specific Latino enclaves: Harlem in New York and Langley Park in Maryland. Through seeing images, reading stories, and hearing voices, the overall intended effect, according to Freidenberg, is to engage the visitor with reflections on the universality of aging that often happens under differing conditions.


This project is a collaboration among the Smithsonian Latino Center, the Center on Aging, the Department of Anthropology at the University of Maryland-College Park, and the Inter-University Program for Latino Research.


Immigrant Community Museum Consultation


The Immigrant Community Museum Consultation is the first step towards the institution of a community museum in Langley Park, Maryland. The goal of the museum is to preserve Latino heritage in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties while fostering a forum for community identity and development. Likewise, it explores the role of community museums as agents for social change and mediators in the process of cultural transitions. The project involves Latino immigrants from CASA de Maryland and is sponsored by the Center for Heritage Resource Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. More information can be found in a recent publication titled, “Latino Community Identity and Development: The Case of a Community Museum in Langley Park, Maryland.”


Fieldwork in Villa Clara


The Invention of the Jewish Gaucho

(University of Texas Press)


By the mid-twentieth century, Eastern European Jews had become one of Argentina's largest minorities. Some represented a wave of immigration begun two generations before; many settled in the province of Entre Ríos and founded an agricultural colony. Taking its title from the resulting hybrid of acculturation, The Invention of the Jewish Gaucho examines the lives of these settlers, who represented a merger between native cowboy identities and homeland memories.


The arrival of these immigrants in what would be the village of Villa Clara coincided with the nation's new sense of liberated nationhood. In a meticulous rendition of Villa Clara's social history, Judith Freidenberg interweaves ethnographic and historical information to understand the saga of European immigrants drawn by Argentine open-door policies in the nineteenth century and its impact on the current transformation of immigration into multicultural discourses in the twenty-first century. Using Villa Clara as a case study, Freidenberg demonstrates the broad power of political processes in the construction of ethnic, class, and national identities. The Invention of the Jewish Gaucho draws on life histories, archives, material culture, and performances of heritage to enhance our understanding of a singular population--and to transform our approach to social memory itself.


Immigration Conference


On December 12, 2009, the ILCRP hosted a conference at the University of Maryland to discuss contemporary immigration issues with various stakeholders including researchers in a variety of academic fields, public officials, non-governmental organization leaders, and immigrants themselves.


Ethnology of the Immigrant Life Course


Taught by Dr. Freidenberg at the University of Maryland since 2000, The Ethnology of the Immigrant Life Course explores social issues affecting local immigrant populations through readings, research and service-learning. The course intends to understand the barriers to access human and social services that immigrants experience through student service-learning placements in community organizations that address immigrants’ needs in neighborhoods surrounding campus. Previous service-learning opportunities include volunteering with CASA de Maryland, an immigrant advocacy organization that offers services to economically and ethnically diverse populations; the Pregnancy Aid Center, a community based women’s health clinic and social service agency; and Rollings Terrace Elementary School, which offers its students both Spanish and English immersion programs.


Life History Project


Dr. Judith Freidenberg, Dr. Gail Thakur, and a team of student researchers from the University of Maryland conducted life history interviews with immigrants residing in the Langley Park, MD area. Student researchers were trained in ethnographic interviewing and filming techniques. All life histories were videotaped to allow for public dissemination of the participants’ experiences. The project also aimed to engage UMD students with local immigrant populations. The final research products include a 22-minute video titled, Immigrant Voices, co-produced by Drs. Judith Freidenberg and Gail Thakur, as well as an article titled, “Immigrant Life Histories as a Heritage Resource for Civic Engagement.”


Full interview transcripts can be found here.


Expatriate Populations in the Context of Globalization


In the Spring of 2009, Dr. Freidenberg conducted a cross-national comparative examination of the condition of U.S. citizenship abroad in relation to globalization and transnationalism through the exploration of virtual and emergent communities. She utilized participant observation and ethnographic interviewing to explore the meaning of being an expat and its relation to the construction of citizenship in the capital cities of two different cities: Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Beijing, China (paper forthcoming).


Museum Exhibit: The Immigrant Experience in Prince Georges County


The Immigrant Experience in Prince George’s County museum exhibit consists of three modules produced by ILCRP team members, as follows:


  • Museum Posters (Lillian Torres):  Three descriptive chronological accounts of immigration history to the nation, the state and the county show how human mobility is normative in the US.


  • Video (Immigrant Voices- Judith Freidenberg and Gail Thakur):  A 22-minute video providing an experiential account of the lives of immigrants residing in Prince Georges County.


  • Catalogue (To Belong: Life Histories of Immigrants in Prince Georges County – Amy Carattini):  A narrative of the contexts of origin and incorporation of the immigrants depicted in the Immigrant Voices video, illustrated with personal photographs and cherished household artifacts.


Click here for a powerpoint of the panels that we take to different community organizations displaying demographic, historical, and ethnographic data on immigration to PG County.


Immigrant Life History Project Collaboration


On June 19th 2010, the ILCRP collaborated with CASA de Maryland and the Smithsonian Latino Center to conduct and videotape 11 life history interviews with immigrants residing in Langley Park, MD. The research coincided with the grand opening of CASA’s new multicultural center.


Driskell Center


On November 11, 2010, in partnership with the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora and their exhibition Jacob Lawrence Prints 1962-2000: A Comprehensive Survey, the ILCRP’s program aimed to enhance the public understanding of cultural diversity in historical perspective. The program's goal was addressed by activities with the following objectives intended to engage the audience in sharing their own life course experience in understanding diversity:


Speaker Panel Presentation (Human Mobility: Perspectives from History, Anthropology, and Museology): The objective of this panel was to highlight the impact of human mobility on the daily life of neighborhoods from the perspective of archaeology, history, anthropology and museology. The panel presentation can be viewed here. Panel speakers included:


Ira Berlin: Distinguished Professor of American History at the University of Maryland. Through his latest book, The Making of African America: The Four Great Migrations, Dr. Berlin spoke about Lawrence's work through a historical perspective and connected it to themes inherent in migration.


Kathy Benson: Project Director, Exhibitions and Publications, Museum of the City of New York.  She discussed the story of Puerto Rican migration to New York in the context of Jacob Lawrence's own life and his work, The Migration Series.


Judith Freidenberg: Anthropology of the Immigrant Life Program, Department of Anthropology, University of Maryland.  She discussed an exhibit she curated, The Immigrant Experience in Prince Georges County, which was displayed outside of the room where the panel discussion took place.


Tony Whitehead: Professor of Medical Anthropology, and Director (and founder) of the Cultural Systems Analysis Group (CuSAG), Department of Anthropology at the University of Maryland (UMD).  Dr. Whitehead has broad research and technical assistance experiences in the United States, the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe.  He spoke about the “African American Human and Cultural Mobility from Plantation to Urban America.”


Steve Brighton: Assistant Professor in Department of Anthropology, University of Maryland.  His interpretations of the material past seek to confront and demythologize issues of immigration to the US such as negative stereotypes and racialization, and other naturalized ideologies sustaining inequality and injustice between (some) immigrant groups and the mainstream native-born public.


Museum Exhibit (Museum Exhibit:  The Immigrant Experience in Prince Georges County):  The exhibit showcased human relocations in Prince Georges County, originating within and outside the United States, as intrinsically US history.


Creating Museums of the Immigrant Experience


This year through a seed grant collaboration with the Smithsonian, Dr. Judith Freidenberg at the University of Maryland has been teaching a class titled "Creating Museums of the Immigrant Experience" where students have conducted life history interviews with immigrants living in Prince George's County, Maryland. These video products and interactive blog represent our ongoing conversation with them on their immigrant experiences.