The goal of our proposed research initiative is to document the organizational life of immigrants in southeast Michigan and their functions and socio-spatial relations, using community-based participatory approaches with data from surveys, interviews, visual ethnography and GIS mapping. The legitimacy of immigrant organizations and their actions to advance equity and inclusion for their immigrant constituencies are strengthened only insofar as they are understood and recognized, and afforded resources and support for capacity building and coalition building. Amidst amplifying anti-refugee and anti-immigrant sentiments in the United States, attention to and supporting visibility and mobilization of immigrant civil society are all the more critical.


The project has two specific aims, and then builds into a subsequent third aim.

  • First, we aim to empirically document immigrant-led organizations and their functions, particularly entities that are smaller and not captured in official data (less than $25,000 annual funding), using community-based participatory approaches.
  • Second, we aim to understand the socio-spatial ‘urban assemblage’ of immigrant organizations as embedded within a broader system, using data from surveys, interviews, visual ethnography & GIS mapping.
  • Third, envisioned as part of a subsequent next step and using data and findings from this proposed initiative, we aim to create an interactive website for resource and coalition-building of immigrant organizations. The interactive site aspires to be a vibrant virtual space for immigrant organizations, as well as a resource and archive for researchers, educators, students, policymakers and practitioners such as planners, designers, and social workers.