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Posted on August 3rd, 2023 in Article, Faculty, Honors, Research by Carrie E. Foote
Professor Michael Snodgrass, Professor of Latin American History Director, Global and International Studies Program Faculty Affiliate, IU Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and Institute for European Studies, IU School of Liberal Arts
This May, Global Studies program director Michael Snodgrass returned to Europe to share his research expertise as an Erasmus Mundus scholar. Germany’s prestigious Göttingen University hosted his first visit, where he presented a lecture on the Spanish guest workers who helped rebuild West Germany after WWII. Dr. Snodgrass also joined German sociologist Peter Birke in a research lab on immigrant labor in Germany and the USA hosted by Göttingen’s Centre for Global Migration Studies. He then traveled to Groningen University, in the Netherlands, where his lecture “Return of the Norteños” explained the experiences of migrants returning to Mexico from the USA both in the past and in present times. At both universities, Snodgrass also led research seminars for graduate students in the Euroculture Program. Dr. Snodgrass is a former coordinator of that program during the fifteen years that IUPUI took part in the consortium.

Much of the research presented in Europe appeared in a recent article published in Comparative Studies in Society and History called “Dreams of Development in Mexico and Spain: A Comparative History of Guestworkers and Migration Diplomacy.” The 14,000-word study of Cold War-era migration policy compares two emblematic guestworker programs that recruited several million Mexican and Spanish labor migrants to labor in the USA and Germany. Proponents of these pioneering agreements defended them as diplomatic achievements that secured contractual labor rights for temporary workers, improved foreign relations in Europe and North America, and sent migrants home with savings and skills to achieve the diverse development goals of the sending states. The study traces the programs’ historical and ideological roots, juxtaposes the guestworkers’ experiences, and uses the cases of Mexican braceros and Spanish gastarbeiter to explore the contested nexus between migration and development.

Dr. Snodgrass is currently preparing a book manuscript on the history of Mexican emigration and return migration. He will utilize a 2024 sabbatical to pursue further research on the little-studied case of the Spanish men and women who labored as guestworkers in postwar European nations like Germany and the Netherlands.