Story+ Project

Remapping the Caribbean: Archives of Haitian & Cuban Migration, Detention & Legal Activism


This Story+ program will invite students to use a series of new collections at Duke University Rubenstein Library about Caribbean migration to the United States. These include the Americans for Immigrant Justice, the Caribbean Sea Migration Collection, and the National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR) Collections. Through these collections, students will come to understand the history of Cuban and Haitian migration to the U.S. during the 1980s and 1990s, the different treatment of the two groups, and the practices of interdiction and detention that were developed during this time, including the first use of Guantanamo Bay’s a detention center. They will discover detailed first-person accounts of sea journeys, and be able to document and explore histories of human rights activism carried out by various organizations, notably the NCHR, on behalf of immigrants. These collections also highlight the particular role of technology (most notably radio) in electrifying protests across major hubs of the Haitian Diaspora such as New York, Miami and Washington, D.C.  At a time of intense political attention to immigration, and in which many Haitians are facing threatened with an end to Temporary Protected Status, this research will provide an important sense of the history of immigration and legal struggles around it. The work produced by students and showcased through the development of a collective web project, will therefore have the potential to deepen and inform contemporary debates around immigration.          

Student participants should be interested in archival research and comfortable working with primary sources. Knowledge of Haitian Creole, French or Spanish and/or some background in Latin America/Caribbean history, law, gender studies, or histories of activism will be helpful but are not required.

Special supplemental application materials: To be determined. Check back soon!

Project Sponsor(s): 

Laurent Dubois, Professor of Romance Studies and History and Director of the Forum for Scholars & Publics, Duke University 

U.S. Coast Guard photograph of Haitians at sea, 1981 Caribbean Sea Migration Collection Rubenstein Special Collections Library, Duke University.


  • Translation
  • Migration
  • Archives
  • Human Rights
  • History