Sarahi Rivas '23 is awarded Engaged Learning in Anthropology Scholarship

September 2, 2021

The Department of Anthropology is pleased to announce that Sarahi Elizabeth Rivas was awarded an Engaged Learning in Anthropology Scholarship.  She will use funds from this scholarship to organize community engagement projects, including a multi-lingual podcast, a virtual workshop, and video-recorded oral histories which will give refugee scholars, artists, and activists a space to share their stories and emphasize the work of refugee-led organizations and form solidarity across borders.

Sarahi is pursuing a double major in Government and Sociology and a minor in the Latino Studies program.  She enjoys involving herself with the Latine community at Cornell through membership on e-board for La Asociación Latina (LAL) for two consecutive years, and currently in the Mexican Student Association (MexSA), and the Cornell Latinx Association of Pre-Laws (CLAP), as well as with global internships in Ecuador under the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program (LACS).  Sarahi describes her research project below: 

My project, titled Refugees Know Things, acknowledges the importance of displaced and refugee scholars, activists, and artists and their experiences and perspectives toward racial (in)justice, the spatiality of borders, education and healthcare, the temporality of displacement, refuge, and asylum, citizenship, the state, and global apartheid. This research is important to me as someone with immigrant parents who came as undocumented to the US from Mexico in search of a better life and escape poverty. I am dedicated to my degree, pursuing the career goal of immigration law to help and amplify those from marginalized communities in any way I can, just like those who helped my parents.

This project intends to help give refugee scholars, artists, and activists a space to share their stories when they feel comfortable to do so and at the pace they would like. This space would manifest in the form of community engagement through a multi-lingual podcast with several refugees and displaced scholars, activists, and artists from different disciplinary and regional backgrounds. The purpose of the project is to promote relationships and conversations across epistemological and national borders and the borders between activism and theory, individual voice and collective organizing, and analysis and experience. The second part of the project would include installations that feature the work of many collaborating artists through video-recorded oral histories emphasizing the work of refugee-led organizations and form solidarity across borders. The installation would include a virtual workshop that creates a space for artists, scholars, and activists whose work revolves around migration, asylum, and refuge.

The project is highly relevant to my scholarly and career goals because I expect a career as an immigration lawyer, mainly to help my own community. Immigration impacts the Latine community greatly, and as someone with Mexican parents who came here undocumented, I find it vital to give refugees and undocumented folks a forum to voice their experiences and knowledge. Often, their stories are forgotten or only used to fit a certain narrative, rarely can they tell them in their complete rawness. Given that I aspire to support the undocumented and refugee community, participating in this project and reaching out to Latine displaced and refugee scholars, artists, and activists about their experiences are necessary; they should have the platform to voice what they feel and what they wish to share with others over ongoing displacement. 

Congratulations, Sarahi!

The Engaged Learning in Anthropology Scholarship was established by an anonymous donor to support students who seek training in anthropological techniques or who would like to participate in anthropologically-oriented engaged learning opportunities.  The Department of Anthropology is grateful for these Scholarships and for the opportunities they've given to many students over the years for transformative research and life-changing experiences.   

Sarahi Rivas