For her newest book, Stefanie Chambers, associate professor of political science, is comparing the incorporation of Somali Americans in the Twin Cities and Columbus, Ohio. It’s an effort that she acknowledges was made possible by the support of many others: her colleagues, a Trinity alumnus, and most recently the American Political Science Association.
Chambers started this research when she was writing a chapter on minority mayors in majority-white cities. At the suggestion of Abigail Williamson, assistant professor of political science, Chambers wrote a conference paper on Somalis in Columbus. She enjoyed the research experience so much that she decided to make it her next book project.
Chambers collaborated with several colleagues who were able to offer their expertise in immigration, Islam, and other areas. In addition to Williamson, she worked with Anthony Messina, John R. Reitemeyer Professor of Political Science; Diana Evans, professor of political science; and Zayde Gordon Antrim, Charles A. Dana Research Associate Professor of History and International Studies.
While preparing for her field work, Chambers came across a book called Somalis in Minnesota. She soon learned the author was a Trinity alumnus: Ahmed Ismail Yusuf, IDP ’97. She later connected with Yusuf, who became an enormous asset to her work in the Twin Cities, connecting her with trusted individuals in the Somali American community who helped her build credibility.
“I’ve had people say to me, ‘I wouldn’t have met with you if it wasn’t for someone vouching for you,’” she said, pointing out that some in the community suffered from what she called “research fatigue.”
In addition to the help from Yusuf and her colleagues, Chambers’ research was supported by Trinity’s Faculty Research Committee and the American Political Science Association. These grants allowed Chambers to conduct 43 interviews in Columbus and another 40 in Minneapolis.
Chambers plans to write the bulk of the book, Immigrant Incorporation in New Destinations: Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus, during her Spring 2015 sabbatical.