Mobility and Migration in Graphic Novels and Graphic Journalism

By Amyaz Moledina

Wooster will be hosting Thi Bui, in September. Her book, The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir on Abrams ComicArts has been chosen as the 2019 Summer reading. The graphic novel is an exciting genre. I thought I would put together a quick list of resources to help any of you that will teach her book. I also add some other graphic novels that discuss various aspects of mobility and migration.

Background on Vietnam:

  1. Information for First Years from the “First Year Experience” at UCLA.
  2. Bui, Thi. “Reexamining the Refugee Story
  3. Bui, Thi “Precious Time” Illustrated PEN America.
  4. Earle, Harriet E. H. (2018) “A new face for an old fight: Reimagining Vietnam in Vietnamese-American graphic memoirs.” Studies in Comics . Jun2018, Vol. 9 Issue 1, p87-105. 19p.
  5. Chung, Tiffiny “Vietnam: Past is Prologue” Exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum. Till September 2019.
  6. Carruthers, Ashley. Exile and return : Deterritorialising national imaginaries in Vietnam and the diaspora. Oct-2008. University of Sydney.
  7. Lindquist, J., Xiang, B., & Yeoh, B. S. (2012). Opening the black box of migration: Brokers, the organization of transnational mobility and the changing political economy in Asia. Pacific Affairs, 85(1), 7-19.
Other Graphic Novels
  1. Baddawi, Leila. Abdelrazaq, Pen America.
  2. Behan, Teju.. (2018). Drawing From The City. Tara Books, India
  3. Bessora and Barroux, trans. from the French by Sarah Ardizzone.Alpha: Abidjan to Paris Bellevue Literary (Consortium, dist.), (128p) ISBN 978-1-942658-40-5.
  4. Blaufarb, R., & Clarke, L. (2015). Inhuman traffick: The international struggle against the transatlantic slave trade : a graphic history. Oxford University Press.
  5. Caplan, Bryan and Zach Weinersmith (illustrator) Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration. First Second. United States.
  6. Colfer , Eoin and Andrew Donkin, illus. by Giovanni Rigano. Illegal Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, (128p) ISBN 978-1-4926-6214-3.
  7. Fitzgerald, A. (2018). Drawn to Berlin: Comic workshops in refugee shelters and other stories from a new Europe. Seattle, WA : Fantagraphics Books
  8. Kleist, Reinhard. An Olympic Dream: The Story of Samia Yusuf Omar. Self Made Hero. Apr. 2016. 152p. tr. from German by Ivanka Hahnenberger. ISBN 9781910593097.
  9. Kugler, Olivier. Escaping Wars and Waves: Encounters with Syrian Refugees. Penn State Univ, (88p) ISBN 978-0-271-08224-0.
  10. Ruillier, Jérôme. trans. from the French by Helge Dascher. The Strange Drawn & Quarterly, (160p) ISBN 978-1-77046-317-2.
  11. Sattouf, Riad The Arab of the future a graphic memoir : a childhood in the Middle East (1978-1984) New York : Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 2015
  12. Shyam, B., Rao, S., & Wolf-Sampath, G. (2018). The London Jungle Book. Tara Books, India.
  13. Sulaiman, Hamid, trans. from the French by Francesca Barrie. Freedom Hospital: A Syrian Story. Interlink, (288p) ISBN 978-1-62371-995-1.
  14. Tan, Shaun. (2006) The Arrival. Hodder & Stoughton
  15. Tran, G. B. 1. (2010). Vietnamerica: A family’s journey. New York: Villard Books.
  16. Tonatiuh, Duncan, Undocumented: A Worker’s Fight Abrams ComicArts. Abrams Books. August 7. 2018.
  17. Vann, Michael G. and Liz Clarke (Author) The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empire, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam (Graphic History Series) 1st Edition. Oxford University Press; 1 edition (June 1, 2018)

Graphic Journalism
Graphics journalism is a special form of journalism. It uses both words and graphic forms to present information. Merging comic art with journalistic processes, it reconfigures conventional notions of how we should consume news. Here are a few examples that deal with the issue of migration.


See the two websites below for more pedagogy modules and an example of a collaboration between three courses.

Moledina, Amyaz. Leah Mirakhor and Matthew Krain (2015) “Borderlands: An interdisciplinary inquiry into Human Trafficking.

Moledina, Amyaz et al. (2018). “Challenging Borders: Resources for Teaching and Learning.”

Global Course Connections

The goal of our project is to create research and pedagogy groups that explore the dynamic relationship between the movement of people, objects, and ideas. This way of looking at movement is distinct from frameworks that just look at the movement of people (typically international migration), and the effect and response of this movement. We hope that as we form our groups, the faculty/staff that are focussed on pedagogy will also consider creating connected courses.

In this post, we identify three GLCA courses that have already explored this boundary and two upcoming courses for the following semester.

Graphic: “Connections” by deargdoom57 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Fall 2017 

Roma, Gypsies, Travelers, Ian MacMillen, Russian and East European Studies, Oberlin College
Bulgarian Government and Politics, Emilia Zankina, Political Science, Amerian University in Bulgaria

Kenyon College’s Community Engaged Learning in a Rural Setting exploring the subject of Latino’s in Rural America.

Migration and Citizenship and Migration and the New Europe,collaboration between ProfessorsTaku Suzuki and Brian Miller

Fall 2018

Migration and Citizenship, Taku Suzuki, International Studies, Denison University
Refugees in the 21st Century, Chryssa Zachou, Sociology, Amerian College of Greece

Worlds of Islam, Marcus Pyka, History, Franklin University Switzerland
History of Islam, Ibra Sene, History and Global & International Studies, The College of Wooster

More information on our pedagogy modules and examples of syllabi that we have created can be found here.

For anyone considering connected courses that are at GLCA/GLAA institutions, please see these helpful resources curated by the GLCA.

Student Research on Mobility Studies

By Katherine Holt

As a Latin Americanist who teaches classes on regional history and culture, themes of diaspora and mobility are central to my courses.

This spring 2017, students in my History 201: Latin American & the United States completed two course modules connected to the Challenging Borders collaboration.  History 201 The Craft of History rubric courses are writing-intensive seminars that emphasize the critical skills of the historian—including the analysis of primary sources, historiography, historical research and writing, and historical argument—but welcome students from a wide array of majors.  Increasingly, I have my students do more digital projects as a way to share their research and analysis with a wider audience.  This helps them think carefully about information literacy, as well as raising the bar for the quality of their writing.  It also lets us contribute to the content gap in well-researched, reliable online coverage of topics about race, gender, and immigration.

For one of our modules, students investigated their choice of research questions related to class themes, and created an annotated bibliography.  Students have shared some of these annotations to the Challenging Borders Mobility Studies Zotero library.

Another module focused on our joint analysis of a canonical secondary study of U.S. immigration policy.  One of the first books we read for class was Mae Ngai‘s  Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton UP).  Dr. Ngai’s award-winning book examines the history of twentieth century U.S. immigration law.  She details the debates behind the Johnson-Reed Immigration Act of 1924‘s attempts to limit the growing influx of Southern and Eastern Europeans, and then looks at how these immigration restrictions created new categories of racial difference.  Later chapters look at how immigration officials applied these policies to colonial subjects like Filipinos, Mexican agricultural workers not covered by the quota system, and Asians ineligible for citizenship.  Pedagogically, the book provided an invaluable historical overview of the construction of race and national identity, while at the same time reinforcing close reading and analysis of secondary sources.

Despite all the scholarly recognition Ngai received for the book, it did not have a Wikipedia page.  I decided to create a new page to facilitate student critical analysis, and the diffusion of our overview of this important work to a wider public. This also let us contribute to our campus Feminist Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon.

Working in teams, students divided up responsibilities for leading classroom discussions of book chapters.  They then wrote up a brief synopsis of their assigned sections, following Wikipedia guidelines for tone, use of evidence, and content.

We finished our work on the page in early March.  Only recently have we received some feedback from the broader Wikipedia community, making some (very fair) critiques that the article would benefit from additional citations and a broader secondary source base.  A contributor removed my students’ timelines earlier this month, noting that “book articles typically do not contain this.”  I’m going to write my students to see how they respond to the wider Wikipedia’s critiques and changes.