Peggy Levitt sociologist, author and professor

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Levitt receives Hans-Robert Roemer Fellowship from the Oriental Institute of Beirut

January 2 2020

The Oriental Institute of Beirut, one of ten German Humanities Institutes funded by the Max Weber Foundation, awarded Levitt the Hans-Robert Roemer Fellowship to support her research on cultural and intellectual inequality. She spent the fall of 2018 in Lebanon doing research on her new book. 

The Transnational Studies Initiative bids farewell

January 2 2020

Founded by Peggy Levitt and Sanjeev Khagram in 2001 at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and the Hauser Center for Non-profit Organizations at Harvard University, and co-directed over the years by Tamara Kay and Jocelyn Viterna, TSI hosted numerous seminars and conferences, generated research, trained students, and produced a film to demonstrate the analytical purchase of using a transnational lens. We are grateful to all who joined us and will continue this work in other forums. 

Levitt contributes to exhibition catalogue for the Institute for Contemporary Art/Boston

September 2 2019

Boston’s Institute for Contemporary Art will open a new exhibition, When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration Through Contemporary Art, in October 2019. Levitt’s contribution to the exhibition catalogue, “Words that Make Worlds” explores how the terms we use to talk about migration serve particular social and political interests, influence public opinion and policy-making, and help determine the entitlements and protections offered to some groups and denied to others. 

Levitt named Institute for Creativity Distinguished Visitor at the Hong Kong Baptist University

September 2 2019

Levitt returns to the Hong Kong Baptist University for a second time as the Institute for Creativity Distinguished Visitor. Among her several projects is to host a conference on Rethinking Western Canons: Social Theory in Asia in December 2019.  

The Global (De) Centre plans its next winter school in Toledo, Spain in January 2020

August 29 2019

The GDC will host its second week-long school, “The Refugee Crisis?: A cross-regional comparison of challenges and opportunities,” organized by the department of sociology at the Pontificia University of Comillas. The program is open to graduate students and early junior professors and will take place in Toledo in January 2020. Stay tuned for more details


Discussion with Peggy and others about their project submission to The Next Helsinki

December 17 2016

The transcript of a moderated conversation between Peggy Levitt, Joanna Warsza, and Hanna Snellman is now available. Recorded during Peggy’s visit to Helsinki in September for Finland’s Museum Theme Days 2016, the discussion focused on museums, nations, and migrants and can be found on The Next Helsinki blog

The Next Helsinki is an international competition seeking for innovative ideas to the improvement of the cultural and public space of Helsinki. Launched as an alternative to the controversial Guggenheim Helsinki project, the Next Helsinki has called upon architects, urbanists, artists, and environmentalists to imagine how Helsinki and the South Harbor site allotted to the proposed museum can be transformed for the maximum benefit of the city’s residents and visitors.

Enough Jane Eyre—it’s time to move to a truly global canon

October 27 2016

Peggy comments on the narrowness and persistence of an English language-centric literary canon in the U.S. in an Op-Ed for the National Review of Books. She calls for a serious reexamination of the list of books that have been taught for generations, noting that few of the books receiving the prestige of a major literary prize are written in non-Western languages. Read it here

Levitt Keynote Speaker at Museum symposium in Finland

September 23 2016

On September 22, 2016, Peggy delivered a keynote address at the [Finnish] National Board of Antiquities-sponsored event “Museum Theme Days: Future. Now.” which took place over two days in Helsinki. 

BBC Radio podcast on British Museum

September 22 2016

Peggy recently participated in a program broadcast on BBC Radio 4 (9/8/16) entitled “Missing Continents at the British Museum,” along with host Anthony Gormley, the museum’s new director, and a former trustee. Now available online, they talk about at how this national museum with a world collection must make its holdings accessible to a global audience. Stream program.  

Quoted in an article on Asia Pacific Daily site

May 29 2016

Peggy was interviewed for a piece about what museums are doing to respond to changing demographics and to get more people in the door. Peggy was interviewed for a piece about what museums are doing to respond to changing demographics and to get more people in the door. Pop culture exhibits are becoming more as museums try to attract “new, younger, more diverse audiences.” Read the article.


Recent interviews: both a podcast and a radio program in Sweden

May 29 2016

In May of 2016, Peggy was the keynote speaker at a conference in Sweden at Malmö University entitled Museums in Times of Migration and Mobility: Processes of Representation, Collaboration, Inclusion and Social Change. Medea Vox, a podcast from the university (hosted here by Temi Odumosu, an art historian and post-doctoral researcher in the Living Archives project at the school), caught up with Peggy on her visit to talk about diversification and balancing the pressures of nationalism and multiculturalism in the museum world.  Listen to it here. More on the conference here. Sveriges Radio also grabbed her for a few words at the conference she was attending. Listen to it here

On BBC Radio 4’s “Thinking Allowed” Program

February 17 2016

Laurie Taylor, host of the program, talks to Peggy about her new book and how museums today represent diversity and make sense of immigration and globalization. They're joined by Julian Spalding, the art critic and writer, and Craig Calhoun, director of the London School of Economics and Political Science. You may stream or download an mp3 of the program from the site—the part that includes Peggy begins about 14 minutes in. 

Visit to the Philippines and Singapore

November 25 2015

Peggy’s January, 2016 visit to the Philippines and Singapore included a talk at the University of the Philippines, a roundtable discussion of her new book at the National University of Singapore, and a talk at Art Stage, the annual art fair that takes place during Singapore Art Week. 


Interview on Tiching blog

November 12 2015

A piece entitled "Los niños y niñas no nacen con prejuicios, los aprenden"—an interview with Peggy—appeared on Tiching, a blog in Spanish that focuses on education in Latin America. 


More Thoughts on the Role of Museums (Atlantic Magazine and National Journal)

November 9 2015

On November 6, Levitt’s opinion piece, “Museums Must Attract Diverse Visitors or Risk Irrelevance,” appeared on the websites of Atlantic Magazine and the National Journal, an online publication dedicated to delivering “es­sen­tial in­sights and ana­lys­is for those op­er­at­ing in Wash­ing­ton’s policy and gov­ern­ment aren­as.” Read the article.

New book recommended in the New York Times

October 29 2015

In a recent article in the New York Times, Holland Cotter asks us to think about what museums should look like in the 21st century. His comments give voice to concerns shared in Levitt's Allegiances and Artifacts, the book he recommends in the article, ”Toward a Museum of the 21st Century.”


New Op-Ed piece on the future of museums

October 29 2015

“Can Museums Create Common Ground in Diverse Societies?,” a piece by Levitt appears on the Zócalo Public Square website, a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism. She takes a look at the Queens Museum in NYC to examine how museums might meet the challenge of developing citizens in our global world. Read the article.

Talk in Tokyo to international museum group meeting

October 29 2015

Levitt will deliver a talk entitled "Is There a Global Audience?" at the Annual Meeting of the International Committee on Museums and Collections of Modern Art held in Tokyo, Japan, Nov. 7-10, 2015. The theme this year is "How Global Can Museums Be?"


Talk at Harvard Workshop

October 28 2015

Levitt spoke about her new book at Harvard University at an event co-sponsored by the  Cultural and Social Analysis Workshop and the Migration and Immigrant Incorporation Workshop on October 26, 2015.

Panel Discussion on Artifacts and Allegiances

September 21 2015

On October 1, Peggy Levitt will discuss her new book at the Musée national de l’histoire de l’immigration in Paris with Catherine Brice (Professor, Institut Universitaire de France, Université Créteil), Thomas Lacroix (Migrinter), Hilaire Multon (Musée de l’archéologie nationale), and Stéphanie Mahieu, who is in charge of the ethnographic collection at the Museum from 10:30 AM-12:30 PM. The museum is located at 293 avenue Daumesnil, 75012 Paris.  


Round Table at the Hermitage Amsterdam Museum

September 21 2015

Peggy Levitt and Susan Legene (professor of political history at Vrije University) will discuss their new books with Mirjam Shatanamawi of the National Museum of World Cultures (Amsterdam), and Paul Spies (the Amsterdam Museum) on September 28, 2015 from 1:00-2:30 PM at the Hermitage Museum. 


New Book Published

May 25 2015

In our increasingly diverse, mobile world, how do we learn to get along? Artifacts and Allegiances: How Museums Put the Nation and the World on the Display looks at how museums in Europe, the US, Asia, and the Middle East help visitors embrace diversity next door and across the globe. Available from University of California Press and Amazon. More information.

Various Lectures Planned to Mark the Publication of Artifacts and Allegiances in August 2015

May 12 2015

To mark the publication of her new book, Levitt will present her work at a range of venues in the coming months, including Harvard University, the European University Institute in Florence, and Sciencespo in Paris.


Visiting Professor at the American University of Cairo's Center for Migration and Refugee Studies

May 12 2015

In addition to meeting with students and faculty during her stay in March 2015, Levitt lectured on new conceptual and methodological approaches to migration studies and on her research on the role of cultural institutions in creating successful diverse societies.  


Transnational Studies Initiative hosted Radcliffe Conference on Global Social Protection in February 2015

May 11 2015

A two-day conference, organized by The Transnational Studies Initiative with assistance from the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, focused on issues related to social support for people on the move. Attended by scholars from around the world, the proceedings will be published in a special volume of Oxford Development Studies.
The Transnational Studies Initiative, based at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard, runs a seminar series that focuses on how transnational practices and processes in different domains relate to and inform one another. More information may be found on their website

New Volume of Ethnic and Racial Studies

October 3 2014

In a world on the move, how and where do we learn the values and skills to deal with diversity next door and across the globe? This new special volume looks at international music competitions, overseas university campuses, elite social clubs, and UNESCO world heritage sites, among others, as potential sites of global citizenship creation.

Honorary Doctorate from Maastricht University

January 22 2014

On January 10, 2014, Maastricht University in the Netherlands awarded Peggy Levitt an honorary doctorate. Before the ceremony took place, she delivered a lecture entitled “Migrating People, Migration Culture: Concepts, Methods, and Implications for Development” to an audience of over 100 students and scholars from various universities and alumni from the UM Honors Program. 

Some Recently Published Articles

November 5 2013

2013: “Reform Through Mobility? Migration, Health, and Development in Gujarat, India.” With N. Rajaram in Migration Studies and “Rethinking Social Remittances and the Migration-Development Nexus from the Perspective of Time.” With Deepak Lamba-Nieves in International Migration Review.

2012: “What’s Wrong with Migration Scholarship? A Critique and a Way Forward.” in Identities.


New Article

November 9 2012

"What’s wrong with migration scholarship? A critique and a way forward." published in Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. See publications page to download.

Conversations Across Borders: A Workshop in Transnational Studies

October 30 2012

Date: November 26, 2012
Time: 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Location: CGIS South Building, Room S153, 1730 Cambridge Street, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.
Open to the public.

Islamic Market Economies:
Nineteenth-Century Transnationalism, Migration, and Religious Diasporas
Rachel Ama-Asaa Engmann, Postdoctoral Fellow in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, Brown University
‘Make a Joyful Noise unto the Lord’:
Christian Songs, Religious Publics, and Urban Space in Lagos, Nigeria
Vicky Brennan, Assistant Professor of Religion, The University of Vermont
Our Blessed Virgin Mary Has an Asian Face:
Marianism among the Vietnamese Catholic in the US and Cambodia
Thein-Huong Ninh, PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology, University of Southern California

Religion on the Edge

October 30 2012

A volume of essays that challenge conventional approaches to the sociology of religion, Religion on the Edge, will be published on November 21, 2012.


Named Ethel-Jane Westfeldt Bunting Fellow

June 12 2012

Peggy will be at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico during the summer of 2012.   


Transnational Studies Initiative: Upcoming workshop speakers and venues for the spring semester

January 27 2012

Save the Dates.

(Please note: Most sessions will be held on the third Tuesday of the month, from 4-6 PM. Titles, abstracts and papers are forthcoming.)

February 21 (4-6 PM)

TSI Workshop

• Deborah Matzner (Wellesley College)
• Aisha Beliso-De Jesús (Harvard Divinity School)

Venue: Center for Government and International Studies, Harvard University, 1737 Cambridge St. (Knafel Building), Room K262

March 27 (4-6 PM)

TSI Workshop

• Tamar Barzel (Wellesley College)
• Elizabeth Ferry (Brandeis University)

Venue: Center for Government and International Studies, Harvard University, 1730 Cambridge St. (South Building), Room S153

April 24 (4-6 PM)

TSI Workshop

• Valentine Moghadam (Northeastern University)
• Balakrishnan Rajagopal (MIT)

Venue: Center for Government and International Studies, Harvard University, 1730 Cambridge St. (South Building), Room K262

Information for attendees. For any newcomers, we distribute materials to be read before we meet (anything from a published work to a very rough outline of a new project). Then each speaker has about 15 minutes to talk about how his or her work addresses our collective questions (listed below). We invite researchers working on a range of topics from a variety of disciplines.  The only requirement is that they be working on something transnational or using a transnational perspective. We hope that at the end of this year, some of the speakers from last year and this will participate in some sort of collective writing project.

Collective Questions

a. What is moving and what is blocked?  What counts as motion?
b. What are characteristics of the landscapes through which things move and how do they influence movement (including channels, pathways, spaces, place s, scales)
c. How do we study culture in motion? What are the problems in your field that you would like to resolve?
d. What kind of social change happens when things move?
e. What kind of citizens or memberships are created? 
f. How does motion affect the way sovereignty and development are thought of and practiced?

For further information contact Deepak Lamba-Nieves or visit the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs website. Follow the TSI on Facebook.