‘Migration is a theme in my own life’: in conversation with Amy Fedeski

Bader Postdoctoral Fellow in Jewish Studies talks migration politics

Amy Fedeski discusses the importance of Jewish activism and migration.
Credit: 
Amy Fedeski

Incoming Queen’s professor Amy Fedeski sat down with The Journal to discuss her fellowship in Jewish History at Queen’s and how the topic of migration will be implemented in her teaching.  

The Department of History recently appointed Fedeski, a recent History PhD graduate from the University of Virginia, as the Bader Postdoctoral Fellow in Jewish History at Queen’s for the 2022-23 academic year.

Her teaching and research will focus on Jewish migration politics during the Cold War. In an interview with The Journal, she discussed the importance of Jewish activism.

“In particular I’ll be developing my current project on Jewish American activists and US refugee policy during the 1970s,” Fedeski said. “You only have to look at the news to see that migration policy is a central question in modern politics.”

Fedeski will ask her students questions such as “who counts as a refugee?” and “can refugees be truly resettled?” to consider how individuals and organizations influence policy on a global level.

Fedeski previously taught at a large American state school and was a teaching assistant at the University of Virginia from 2019-21. Fedeski hopes her experience teaching will strengthen her approach to teaching at Queen’s.

“I [will] try to create a classroom environment which is interactive, creative, and egalitarian,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to teaching both an introduction to modern Jewish History and a course on Jewish migration at Queen’s.”

While teaching, Fedeski aims to explain the process of Jewish migration in history and will discuss its importance in a global context. She said she will use her experience as a Jewish Studies student when teaching and continuing her research, as well as her work in her master’s degree.

Her thesis, What We Want to Do As Americans: ’Jewish Political Activism and United States Refugee Policy, 1965-1989, examines the relationship between Jewish political activism and US refugee policy and investigates how Jewish Americans’ perceptions of their ethnic identity have changed through time. 

 Fedeski said she aims to highlight emerging refugee policies in her lectures and course material. 

Fedeski also considered migration politics’ impact on her own life, discussing her family’s origins in Poland, France, and Ireland.

 “Coming to Queen’s will be my second international move in four years, so I’ve got a pretty extensive history of migration in my own personal life, and all the excitement and stress that comes along with that,” she said. “Migration is a theme in my own life.”

“These days, most of us live in the UK where I grew up, but a lot of my extended family live in Canada and I’ll be joining them as the third wave of Fedeskis to come there.”

Fedeski hopes her experiences will prepare her for what’s to come as a Queen’s professor. She urges anyone who’s interested in the social and/or physical implications of global migration to take her classes. 

The University of Virginia has highlighted Fedeski’s experience, current research, and more information on their website.

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