Photoessay: Feet in Both Worlds

Pelea de Gallos, 2002. Image by Miguel Luciano

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A Photoessay

Introductory text by Peggy Levitt and Jessica Hejtmanek

Excerpts from an interview with Miguel Luciano

A sea change has transformed migration scholarship in the last two decades. Most scholars now recognize that many migrants maintain ties to their home countries at the same time that they become incorporated into the places where they settle. They continue to invest, support political candidates, and raise families in their homelands while they buy homes and join the PTA in the United States. By belonging to several communities at once, migrants redefine the boundaries of belonging and create new kinds of memberships and citizenships, dramatically transforming the contours social experience.

One place these processes not only unfold but are also represented is in the creative arts. To explore how the relationship between art and society changes when social life no longer stays within national boundaries, the Transnational Studies Initiative (TSI) at Harvard organized a series of public events in the Boston area in spring of 2007. Three artists—Giles Li, a Chinese-American spoken word artist, Samina Ali, an Indian Muslim writer, and Miguel Luciano, a Puerto Rican visual artist—were invited to present and speak about their work and how it explores an intersection between art, identity and homeland. Interviews with the artists, as well as the public conversations were filmed and made into a documentary film, Art Beyond Borders, which speaks not only to the relationship between art and identity but about the role of art and culture in bringing about social change.

Miguel Luciano is a Brooklyn-based Puerto Rican artist. He received his MFA from the University of Florida. His work has been exhibited widely, including at the El Museo del Barrio, Chelsea Art Museum, El Museo de Puerto Rico and the Ronald Feldman Gallery in New York City. He was awarded the New York Foundation for the Arts’ Artist Fellowship and participated in the Bronx Museum of the Arts’ Artists-In-the-Marketplace Program and The Kitchen Residency. He can be reached at

See also: Puerto Rico