Stories from the Global City

Words: Tim Raphael


As the rough beast that is the 2016 presidential campaign menacingly slouches towards Bethlehem, Newest Americans continues to explore the migrating stories that defy its divisive logic.

Gateways to Newark documents the creation of the Gateways to Newark mural, a collaborative effort by 18 artists, curator Rebecca Jampol, the City of Newark and dozens of volunteers. Their efforts created the longest mural on the East Coast and visual testimony to the vibrant cultural intersection Newark has become. Newest Americans collaborated with Newark’s DreamPlay Media and the Newark Downtown District to document the making of the mural and to share the perspectives of the artists about their work. Continuing our commitment to exploring new media technologies, we built our story on Verse—an immersive, interactive, multimedia platform with clickable hotspots that enable viewers to chart their own path through the story.

On The Waterfront takes a look at the Passaic River, the first industrial waterway in the United States and an incubator for immigrant opportunity. Today, the Passaic is one of the most polluted rivers in the country and an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site. The video River Keeper navigates the Passaic with Hackensack Riverkeeper Captain Bill Sheehan through the lower 8 miles of the river, one of the most toxic stretches of water in the country. The essay “The Vilest Swillhole in All of Christendom,” grapples with the legacy of Alexander Hamilton’s vision of an immigrant-driven industrial revolution along the Passaic. The photo essay Toxic Roots focuses on a plot of land where an immigrant trucking business operates on the grounds of a former chemical plant adjacent to the Diamond Shamrock factory, where the most potent version of the infamous defoliant Agent Orange was produced for military use during the Vietnam War.

Reverse Migration follows the two-way traffic between Morristown, New Jersey and the Western Highlands town of Cajolá in Guatemala. Since the 1980s, men from Cajolá have been emigrating to Morristown in astonishingly large numbers. Our film tells the story of how hard-earned knowledge acquired in New Jersey is being applied back home in Guatemala, and how the fruits of that knowledge may offer a socio-economic alternative to emigration while dramatically altering the lives of women in Cajolá. An essay by law professors and child migrant advocates Randi Mandelbaum and Joanne Gottesman provides a broader context for the events depicted in the film.

From Where I Stand is our recurring audio series created with journalism students at Rutgers-Newark that presents perspectives from the global city. In this installment, Risa Mae Bernal, Aidan Jackson and Erin Jerome share what the world looks like ‘from where they stand.’

Maid in the USA is Shana Russell’s continuing series about the domestic labor that makes all other work possible.  In this post, Shana digs deep into her own family’s past to reflect on the labor that has brought her to where she is today. 

If you missed any of our previous issues you can now access them directly from the publication’s cover page, or check out the video series “State of Migration,” created by Newest Americans and Talking Eyes for The Atlantic, where we showcase some of our favorite Newest Americans films.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts on Issue #4.

-Tim Raphael

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More stories from this issue more

American Sueño: Undeterred

As a new administration settles into the White House, Marisol and her family carry on with their lives much as they always have – with courage.

Visuals: Ron Haviv, Rachel Dennis, Gareth Smit



Three days after the election, students at the most diverse campus in the country, Rutgers University-Newark, react.

Visuals: Reiley Wooten


Gateways to Newark

An interactive exploration of the longest mural on the East Coast

Visuals: Talking Eyes & DreamPlay Media


On the Waterfront

Navigate the legacy of the industrial revolution along the Passaic River

Words: Tim Raphael, Ashley Gilbertson
Visuals: Ed Kashi, Tom Laffay, Ashley Gilbertson


Reverse Migration

Journey between Central America and New Jersey with people who are transforming a small Guatemalan town

Words: Joanne Gottesman, Randi Mandelbaum
Visuals: Julie Winokur, Rachel Dennis, Gareth Smit


From Where I Stand

A recurring audio series presenting perspectives from the Global City

Visuals: David Bergeland
Words & Sound: Rhesa Mae Bernal, Aiden Jackson, Erin Jerome


Maid in the USA

A continuing series about the domestic labor that makes all other work possible

Words: Shana Russell


What is

We are a multimedia collaboratory of journalists, media-makers, artists, faculty and students telling the stories that radiate from the most diverse university in the nation. Based in Newark, NJ, a city shaped by migration, our project affords a glimpse into the world of the newest Americans and a vision of our demographic future.

Newest Americans is produced by the Center for Migration and the Global City, and faculty in the Department of Arts, Culture and Media at Rutgers University Newark in partnership with VII Photo and Talking Eyes Media. We have a large body of contributors and co-conspirators who are credited in the masthead and at the end of each story.

To contact us, please email

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