Dr. Teresa Fiore, Professor of Italian and Inserra Endowed Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies, was invited to give a talk at both sessions of the 2020 Model UN Conference in New York (March 1st and 6th).
The National High School Model United Nations (NHSMUN) Conference, the world’s largest Model UN conference, brings together some of the most accomplished high school students from around the world for four days of debate on the most pressing global issues. This year, the simulation of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) debated two topics: A. “Irregular Maritime Migration.”, and B. “Protecting the Rights and Safety of Migrant Laborers.” Attendees incorporate information they learn at the presentations into their final Draft Resolution Papers.
Fiore was invited to speak about Topic B, and presented on the theme of immigrant labor in the construction sector, adapting a chapter of her book Pre-Occupied Spaces: Remapping Italy’s Transnational Migrations and Colonial Legacies. The goal of her talk was to provide students with an interdisciplinary methodological approach for looking at immigration that combines social studies and the humanities in order to enrich numbers and statistics with people’s stories as recounted in novels, films, and even photos. This approach allows for a longer historical view, the identification of cyclical phenomenon across space and time, and the emergence of nuances and contradictions that are useful in the creation of awareness around position documents for the introduction and implementation of new policies.
Fiore used a transnational framework that included the US and Italy, and various immigrant communities active in the construction sectors from Latino to Northern African and Eastern European laborers. The texts she covered ranged from Pietro Di Donato’s 1939 novel Christ in Concrete to David Riker’s 1989 film La Ciudad/The City and photos by Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine about immigrants and construction laborers in NYC. The Q&A with the student committee she addressed was lively, and moved in different directions including government responses to immigration flows, the social acceptance of immigrants, labor and economic mobility for immigrants, and the role of social media in fostering anti-immigrant sentiment, among others.