Smithsonian Folklife Festival

On the Move:
Migration and Immigration Today

On the Move: Immigration and Migration Today invites visitors to consider how immigration and migration both challenges and energizes culture. Through discussion and performance, we encourage you to join us as we explore how the movement of individuals, families, and even entire communities impacts our identities, culture, and everyday lives.

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Photo documentation interns show off the world map in the 2011 Folklife Festival’s Peace Corps program. Photo by Paula Rylands, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives

Where is “home”? How does moving change the way we define ourselves? How do we connect the traditions of past generations with those of new communities? What happens to those who have been left behind? How might we help others immigrating or migrating today? If forced to move, what would we do and what would we take? How would we cope with the challenges of migration and immigration? By talking about these questions with those who have had to answer them, we hope to gain insight into the complex cultural and social context in which immigration and migration occurs.

We invite you to attend a workshop on collecting family histories. Participate in a poetry session or a sing-along which conveys the immigrant experience through verse and music. Tell and listen to stories as visitors share their personal narratives. Learn where you can you can contribute to your community’s stories. Map your own experience of being “on the move” in our tent on the National Mall, and then see visitors’ stories incorporated onto a digital map in the Arts and Industries Building.

Presentations and activities are led by our partners and special guests, including the American Anthropological Association, Alliance for California Traditional Arts, American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, Basque Library of the University of Nevada, Basque Museum and Cultural Center, National Museum of American History, Radio Bilingüe, and others.

Mapping on the Move

More than just static points on a map, where we come from and the home we long for are places that we knit together by our movements. Help us create a story map by contributing your own experiences to our “Mapping on the Move” digital activity.

Take this anonymous online survey to place yourself on our collective map, then visit the Arts and Industries Building during the Folklife Festival to see how your story intersects with others who are also on the move.

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This map shows data collected in initial "Mapping on the Move" survey responses from staff members at the Center for Folklife an Cultural Heritage. Each day at the Festival, we will generate a new map from visitors' responses.