2014 Student-Organized Conference

The First Annual Student-Organized Global Affairs Conference

Immigration in the Neoliberal Age

Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT, USA

January 16th - January 18th, 2014

The goal of this conference is to address the contradiction between the effects of neoliberal globalization: the free movement of commodities and the freeing of markets, increased motivation for migrating illegally, and increasingly dangerous conditions for migrants across the world. We will take an interdisciplinary approach to critically examine global immigration and the political/economic policies that shape its current manifestations.

The increasingly uneven development of nations has led to global migration on such a scale that its practice represents a new modus operandi. The importance of this issue cannot be underestimated when 12.2% of the documented population in the U.S. is foreign-born and undocumented immigrants make up 5.2% of our labor force. As national economies adjust to global patterns we are also seeing massive internal migrations and therefore a great restructuring of society. Because of its magnitude, the issue fundamentally transforms our nature of “home,” “place,” and “belonging.” Neoliberal policy-makers provide a narrative of these concepts that serves to help us re-imagine the potential for a “global community.” Alternative narratives from scholars and immigrant social actors provide explanations for the indispensability of immigrant labor in post-industrial societies coupled with an appalling rise in violence against immigrants. We must engage in responsible analysis to determine how immigrants are positioned in the “global community” and why they are subjected to increasingly restrictive government measures that undermine their basic human rights.

This conference addresses the following questions:

  • How has neoliberalism enhanced the economic, social, and political reasons for migrating or immigrating in the twenty first century?
  • How do modern forms of migration affect interethnic and racial experiences, migrant health, labor relations, and development?
  • Have immigration patterns changed due to the economic liberalization of the past three decades?
  • What challenges do migrants face based on their country of origin, reason for migrating, and place of residency? How are migrant communities and international organizations responding to these challenges?
  • Who do current US immigration policies actually benefit? What would reasonable immigration policy reform look like, and what would it take to create a more just and effective system?

It is crucial that the Middlebury College community engage with these questions in order to fulfill our mission of developing ethical citizenship and integrating academic pursuits with experiences based in our own communities. The global processes of immigration have local affects in Addison County and throughout Vermont. There are around 27,000 documented immigrants and refugees living in Vermont, predominantly from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America, as well as a countless number of undocumented migrant farmworkers. Many of these immigrants are sustaining Vermont’s agricultural industry while simultaneously building community to gain rights and create systemic change. Refugees have intimate knowledge of the human consequences of climate change, violent conflict, and violations of economic and political rights. In this conference we will have the opportunity to learn from scholars from varying disciplines in order to develop solutions from a range of perspectives.

The scope of this conference will span issues of immigration pertaining to Africa, Asia, Latin America, and North America and explore theories developed from an equally diverse geographic array. The conference will also host a local organizations that offer perspective on how global patterns of immigration coalesce in our own community and the surrounding areas. This platform will allow participants to cultivate both macro- and micro-analyses of immigration and to explore courses of action on the individual, community, national, and international levels. 

Immigration in the Neoliberal Age is a student designed conference. This year’s conference was primarily designed by Molly Stuart ‘14.5 and Fernando Sandoval ‘14.5 Additionally, Molly and Fernando were supported by members of the Juntos student group, including Lee Schlenker ‘16 and Andrea Penman-Lomeli ‘16. 

To get in contact with these students or with the primary sponsoring department, the Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs, please contact Nestor Martinez, Program and Outreach Fellow, at 802.443.5652 or at nmartinez@middlebury.edu.

The conference is generously supported by: 

Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs

Community Engagement


International Student Organization (ISO)

International Politics and Economics Program

Latin American Studies Program

Department of Spanish and Portuguese

Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity

Environmental Studies Program


From the opening session of the 2014 First Annual Student Conference “Immigration in the Neoliberal Age”


Molly Stuart ‘14.5 and Fernando Sandoval ‘15 introduce the conference.


Mary Mendoza speaks on the natural history of the U.S.-Mexico border.


Stuart Schussler speaks on his work with the U.S.-Mexico Solidarity Network.


An audience listens to the stories of local migrant workers and their experiences in Vermont.

Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs
Robert A. Jones 59 House
148 Hillcrest Road
Middlebury, VT 05753