Inaugural Goizueta Distinguished Presidential Fellow named

Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, a renowned scholar of human migration, seeks to amplify the impact of the Cuban Heritage Collection on research and scholarship focused on the island nation.

Inaugural Goizueta Distinguished Presidential Fellow named

Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh is a professor of migration and refugee studies at the University College London.
Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh is a professor of migration and refugee studies at the University College London.

Coral Gables, Fla., Dec. 07, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Born in the Canary Islands, Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh has long felt a special connection to Cuba and its people.

“Cuba has been present in my life since childhood,” Fiddian-Qasmiyeh explained. “Not only is my mother Spanish, but Canary Islanders have long represented one of the largest groups of immigrants to Cuba since the time of Christopher Columbus. So, it’s a place that was always part of my life.”

The special connection has informed much of her life’s work and has now led Fiddian-Qasmiyeh to the University of Miami to become the inaugural Roberto C. Goizueta Distinguished Presidential Fellow for the Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC), located at the Otto G. Richter Library in the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion.

The position, which begins in December for eight months, is the cornerstone of the newly established Goizueta Distinguished Presidential Residence Program.

During her time in Miami, Fiddian-Qasmiyeh will continue her groundbreaking research into the connections between Cuba and the Middle East, including the experiences of Muslim Middle Eastern refugees in Cuba and the role of Cuba and Cubans in responding to different refugee situations in the Middle East.

“Professor Fiddian-Qasmiyeh is a world-renowned migration studies scholar and, given this context, her appointment as the inaugural Roberto C. Goizueta Distinguished Presidential Fellow is particularly appropriate,” said Charles Eckman, dean of the University Libraries. “Professor Fiddian-Qasmiyeh’s research during her residency will no doubt amplify the impact of the collection through the generation of new knowledge well into the future.”

The distinguished fellow position was made possible through an endowment funded by The Goizueta Foundation. Founded in 1992 by the late Roberto C. Goizueta, who served as CEO of The Coca-Cola Company from 1981 to 1997, the foundation has been a longtime supporter of the CHC. Through its endowed gifts, the foundation has ensured in perpetuity the acquisition and digitization of new materials, along with research fellowships for both undergraduate and graduate students.

“The Goizueta Foundation has been one of the University’s most generous donors and we are grateful for the constant and unwavering support,” said Julio Frenk, president of the University of Miami. “The foundation’s commitment to the Cuban Heritage Collection means this invaluable resource will continue to be a premier research destination for researchers, students, and visitors from around the world.”

The CHC is home to the largest repository of materials about Cuba outside of the island and the most comprehensive collection of resources about Cuban exile history and the global diaspora experience. “The Cuban Heritage Collection is the premiere U.S. research destination for the study of Cuba and its diaspora, serving as a way station for students and scholars on their research journeys and as a space for South Florida’s Cuban community to connect with their culture and heritage,” explained Amanda Moreno, interim Esperanza Bravo de Varona Chair and Archivist for the CHC. “Professor Fiddian-Qasmiyeh will use the primary source materials in the collection to activate our holdings and expand our knowledge related to Middle Eastern migratory experiences in Cuba.”

Mining the CHC is something Fiddian-Qasmiyeh sees as key to her time in Miami. “I hope to be able to trace Cuba’s position and role as simultaneously a destination and transit point for migrants from the broader Middle Eastern region from the 1500s onward, and especially as a hub of migration between the Middle East and the Americas before and during World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman empires,” she said. “Some of the ways in which this will be accomplished is by looking for traces of Arabic and Arabs in Cuban maps, street names, archival registries, records, and diaries. This is where the CHC will be an invaluable resource.”

During her time in Miami, Fiddian-Qasmiyeh hopes to engage with Cuban Arabs living in the South Florida region to examine why they sought refuge in Miami. She hopes if she is successful that they will have information and materials to add to the CHC.

“The collection is an immeasurable resource to me and to the community-at-large, and I am hopeful during my time here I can introduce even more people to all it has to offer,” said Fiddian-Qasmiyeh.

Currently professor of migration and refugee studies in the Department of Geography at the University College London, Fiddian-Qasmiyeh is also co-director of the Migration Research Unit, founder and director of the Institute of Advanced Studies’ Refuge in a Moving World interdisciplinary research network, and the principal investigator for several major international research projects. She earned her Ph.D. in international development from the University of Oxford. She holds two master’s degrees in international relations and gender and development.


  • Inaugural Goizueta Distinguished Presidential Fellow named
CONTACT: Megan Ondrizek University of Miami 3052843667 [email protected] 

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