Head of the Political Science Department at Rider University in the United States and immigration studies enthusiast, Professor Barbara Franz spent several weeks in Cape Town conducting research through a Fulbright scholarship on migrant integration techniques through the lens of the programs belonging to the Scalabrini Centre. She concluded her time in South Africa with two days of talks regarding the preliminary findings of her research and a broader analysis of integration across time and location. On 10 July, the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office (CPLO) hosted Professor Franz for a seminar on the latter subject where she led a discussion regarding the integration techniques and consequences that she has witnessed in South Africa and across the western world.
For half an hour before the talk, guests streamed in and were welcomed with the choice of coffee or tea and an assortment of cookies in addition to the opportunity to chat with Professor Franz about her background in the subject, the implications of studying migration, and the work she carried out here. About 20 people joined Professor Franz for her seminar, all involved in the field of migration in different but significant ways. Some worked for parliament and are intimately involved with immigration legislation; others study political science and recognize the deeply political nature of the question of migration. Turnout among members of the CPLO was high with a sizeable group of participants from interns to priests.
Father Peter-John Pearson, the director of CPLO, welcomed everyone for coming and introduced Professor Franz and the topics that she would be discussing. From the very beginning of the discussion, Professor Franz assured her audience that she wanted this to be a lively and interactive discussion, encouraging people to ask questions or contribute their thoughts at any point. Professor Franz began her talk with a look at the qualities of migration in the West because her area of expertise lies in migration in Europe and America and acknowledged that she too had a lot to learn about the phenomenon in Africa. Featuring a comparison between the general trends and concrete policies over time, she provided a detailed look into attitudes around migration in Germany, Bosnia, and the United States, among other countries. She also discussed the evolution of immigration terminology, commenting on the deep differences between assimilation and integration, instead preferring something that was even more accepting than either of those two words. Ultimately, Professor Franz brought the conversation back to a discussion of migration in South Africa. Since being in the country, Professor Franz has observed how the intense xenophobia in the United States is actually reflected in the direction that immigration policy is moving in this country as well.
After her lecture was a time for open discussion, when the audience was encouraged to ask questions and respond to what they had just heard from Professor Franz. The South Africans in the room contributed their personal experiences with the changing direction of attitudes towards immigrants while other participants commented on other aspects of the topic. All around, the discussion was provocative and educational. A light lunch was served to conclude the seminar, allowing the audience to enjoy some more tasty food and go over the topics they personally found most interesting with Professor Franz.
As the research branch of the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town, SIHMA was happy to have Professor Franz conduct her own studies at this institution, knowing that there will surely be valuable contributions to the field of migration studies from her work.
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