Researchers at NYU’s Development Research Institute have created “Networks Beyond Borders,” an interactive web site that traces the economic and religious ties within two disaporas through data, video, maps, and personal accounts, allowing the user to follow these groups’ passages and connectivity around the globe.
Global migration is often reduced to a single negative photo or headline—a tragic refugee death or a xenophobic outburst. The real story is more complex—and more positive.
Recognizing this, researchers at NYU’s Development Research Institute have created “Networks Beyond Borders,” an interactive web site (migration.nyudri.org) that traces the economic and religious ties within two disaporas—the Murid religious brotherhood from Senegal and the Bai clan from China’s Fujian province—through data, video, maps, and personal accounts, allowing the user to follow these two groups’ passages and connectivity around the globe. Murids show up as ubiquitous street retailers in New York City while the Bai clan spread prosperity throughout Southeast Asia.
Moreover, in taking the viewer through these cross-border and cross-continental journeys, the site offers narratives that are frequently missing from daily depictions of the issue: success.
“The stories we read about migrants today tend to focus on struggle, borders, politics, Islamophobia, and war,” says NYU Economics Professor William Easterly, director of the Development Research Institute. “Migrant success stories are just as important to remember, especially in the debate on new arrivals’ economic contributions. By investigating details about two specific groups, we learn about the complexity, innovation, and success of migrants’ economic networks that operate beyond the bounds of nation states.”
The site draws from existing scholarship, including Easterly’s Tyranny of Experts (Basic Books, 2014)—all with the aim of chronicling how global migration plays out both among nations and on our street corners.
The Development Research Institute (DRI) is devoted to rigorous, scholarly research on the economic development and growth of poor countries. An independent and non-partisan organization, DRI seeks to expand the number and diversity of serious commentators on the state of foreign aid and development. For more, go to www.nyudri.org.