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.         

Project Sponsor(s): 

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

Graduate Mentor(s): 

Ayanna Legros, PhD Candidate History


Aasha Henderson, Sanha Lim, Alyssa Perez


story+ presentation
The team shared their research findings at the Story+ Summer 2018 Research Symposium.

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

Skills required

  • Collaborative Work
  • Language Skills (Haitian Creole, French, Spanish)
  • Working with Primary Sources & Archival Research