Upcoming conference at the GHI and University of Maryland

Immigration & Entrepreneurship: An Interdisciplinary Conference

September 13-14, 2012

Conference at the GHI and the University of Maryland, College Park

Conveners: David B. Sicilia (University of Maryland, College Park), David F. Barbe (University of Maryland, College Park), and Hartmut Berghoff (German Historical Institute)

Cosponsored by The Center for the History of the New America (University of Maryland, College Park), Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (University of Maryland, College Park), and The German Historical Institute.

The United States has long been an immigrant society as well as an entrepreneurial society. This is no coincidence: immigrants launch new enterprises and invent new technologies at rates much higher than native-born Americans. As the volume of in-migration again approaches that of the "new immigration" at the turn of the twentieth century, it is time to measure how immigrants have shaped the American economy in the past and how immigration policy reform in 1965 has fostered the transformation of business and economic life in the United States. How have newcomers shaped and in turn been shaped by American economic life?

There are striking parallels between nineteenth-century immigration and contemporary immigrant entrepreneurship. Then, as now, immigrants brought considerable education, ambition, and capital, yet often were marginalized or excluded from mainstream opportunities by law, custom, and prejudice. Particular immigrant groups ultimately dominated particular industries and services. Immigrant entrepreneurs built and circulated through trans-Atlantic, trans-Pacific, and at times global networks of people, capital, and know-how. However, the two eras of heavy migration also differ in significant ways. Newcomers from East and South Asia and Latin America have supplanted Eastern and Southern European immigrants who dominated in the late nineteenth century, and German and Irish immigrants who arrived in the early nineteenth century. And whereas many recent immigrants, like their predecessors a century ago, have worked in low-skilled occupations, in construction, or have created small businesses, a significant portion of recent immigrants have arrived with advanced degrees and have launched businesses in the most advanced sectors of the economy, from Silicon Valley to Rte. 128, from biotech to the digital economy.

The Center for the History of the New America, the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute, and the German Historical Institute invite proposals from scholars working in a variety of disciplines - including but not limited to history, sociology, economics, business administration, entrepreneurial studies, anthropology, and cultural studies - to submit research paper proposals. Comparative studies across time and place are especially welcomed.

The conference will engage these and related research topics:

·       immigrant group styles and patterns of entrepreneurship

·       immigrant entrepreneurship and U.S. economic development

·       geography of ethnic entrepreneurship

·       journeys of successful high-tech entrepreneurs

·       immigrant entrepreneurs as small proprietors

·       succeed and failure narratives and other discourse surrounding ethnic immigrant entrepreneurship

·       barriers to immigrant entrepreneurial success

·       policy implications of historical and contemporary research on immigrant entrepreneurship

More details are available on the conference webpage.