|Dr. Jocelyn Frelier is a Visiting Assistant Professor of International Studies and ACES Faculty Fellow at Texas A&M University. Dr. Frelier completed a Ph.D. in Romance Languages & Literatures at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2018 and joined Texas A&M in 2020.
Dr. Frelier is preparing her first book manuscript, “Transforming Family: Queer Kinship and Migration in French, Moroccan and Algerian Literature of the 21st Century,” for publication with the University of Nebraska Press, forthcoming in the fall of 2022.
In her research, Dr. Frelier examines migration between North Africa and France, while also improving our understanding of migration and the interplay between individuals, families, and communities.
What is the inspiration for your research and focus on migration?
Dr. Frelier’s inspiration for her research and focus on migration is embedded in understanding how societies could protect the family unit and how people "make meaning" as they move across both time and space. Lived experiences and migration, in particular, may impact how we define family, establish relationships, and form communities. To conduct her research, Dr. Frelier focuses on storytelling, literature and culture because she believes the stories we tell are a window into how we forge relationships/bonds, how we form communities and how we understand our realities.
The movement of people in the contemporary world is set against the backdrop of globalization. Often, people migrate in search of better economic opportunities so that they can provide for themselves and their families. Yet the pursuit of material prosperity may separate migrants from both their communities and loved ones.
Dr. Frelier’s research is both grounded in and influenced by immigration headlines in the international news cycle. Her research focuses primarily on migration from North Africa to France. Still, her insights are relevant for the continuing debates surrounding immigration in the United States, and particularly, undocumented migration across the southern border. The stakes of her research questions were visible in the United States when #FamiliesBelongTogether protests broke nationwide. The American government’s decision to break up families arriving on the southern border touched on contemporary debates over the rights of the family unit.
How does your background shape your research into migration?
Only upon reaching the end of her first book manuscript, did Dr. Frelier realize that her research related in many ways to her own family’s journey. Her father immigrated from Argentina to the United States. Her family’s history influenced her examination of migration between North Africa and France. Simultaneously, Dr. Frelier’s research also helped her better understand her family's experience. Today, Dr. Frelier's family is mostly in the United States but she remains cognizant of her ties to Latin America, a situation perhaps not unique in a globalized world, but certainly, a lived experience that may influence perceptions and impact narratives.
What did you learn while writing that perhaps you didn’t anticipate?
One aspect that consistently surprised Dr. Frelier was that migration and family are topics that so many members of her own community (academic and otherwise) relate to personally. She appreciates that she can bring her research interests into casual conversations with acquaintances, who often have questions and opinions about their own relationships to her research. Many individuals share their own stories about family members moving away in search of economic opportunities, which may strain familial ties and community bonds.
What do you like to do in your free time when you’re not writing and teaching?
Great writers are often prolific readers. It might come as no surprise then that Dr. Frelier can frequently be found behind an open book. Movies offer relaxation, while knitting helps Dr. Frelier work through stress. Yoga and fitness help Dr. Frelier mentally unwind. She also enjoys long walks with her dog, Rocco.
Life often imitates art, and perhaps research too. Dr. Frelier is a recent migrant herself, having only relocated to the College Station area in August 2020. While the COVID-19 pandemic has left society in disarray, Dr. Frelier has endeavored to build relationships and to be an active member in the community.