Boats in Haiti


The Interdisciplinary Migration Studies Institute (IMSI) exists to connect scholars, students and community members who seek to understand and engage productively with migration and displacement. We welcome all scholars of migration and are especially dedicated to exploring what the humanities bring to the study of migration. Centering the human experiences and stories of migration enables us to highlight not only problems and policies but also the experience of migration itself.

 The world we live in is an increasingly mobile one, and the Midwest is a key region for migration. As a regional hub for migration studies and organizations, our Institute supports research at multiple scales, from the local to the global, with attention to the many pathways that connect them. Migration in Missouri is a key focus–whether today’s influx of migrants from places such as Afghanistan, Myanmar and Ukraine, or past histories: the creation of cashew chicken, the invention of German tradition in Hermann, Korean immigration in the Midwest. We work to hear and learn from members of migrant communities, who are specially equipped to illuminate their unique capacities and strengths, needs and dilemmas and thus to shape our research agendas and frameworks.

People celebrating


Interdisciplinary scholarly research lies at the heart of our mission. Our institute fosters research on migration and displacement at the nexus of the humanities, social sciences, education, and public health. Our faculty come from across the University of Missouri and study migration through diverse disciplinary lenses, from literature, culture, film, gender and geography to sociology, anthropology, education, health, politics and economics.

As an institute that works at the nexus of the humanities and other disciplines, we pay special attention to the power of stories, including ever-adaptable narratives of identity. Language, communication, and culture have always played defining roles in, and have in turn been shaped by, human mobilities—movement propelled by the impacts of war, climate disasters and climate change, nationalisms, economic shifts—and their attending immobilities, brought about by restrictive border regimes, unavailability of resources and other factors. Migrations generate the stories that form the basis of individual and group identities, just as the cultural basis of migration lies in stories, and the sites, means and patterns of their transmission.

 As an interdisciplinary research hub, we view the variety in members’ methodologies as useful for understanding migration and improving all our work. Through regular colloquia, workshops, and speaker series, as well as an biennial international conference, the Institute serves as a hub for networking with national and international scholars and fosters the interface between established scholars and students, undergraduate and graduate alike. The forums we host provide valuable cross-disciplinary feedback, and they also help scholars create connections and collaborations on and beyond campus, pooling networks, resources and time and thereby lessening the burden on the populations we work with.


Faculty members daughter with donations


Creating connections is at the heart of our mission. As well as building on-campus community, we maintain local and regional partnerships, host stakeholder dialogues and manage student internships. We work to support local advocacy efforts with our resources, time, and expertise; advertise the events, businesses, organizations, etc. of community members; sit on local nonprofits; connect local organizations with volunteers and interns; and share research with community leaders in migration spaces.