My dissertation research and several follow-up projects focused on ethnic economies, specifically the Cuban enclave economy in Miami. Based on a survey of Cubans in different neighborhoods in Miami and a series of in-depth interviews in 2000 and 2006 I argued that Cuban immigrants in Miami have become increasingly diverse in terms of their socio-economic status, political and ideological backgrounds, and personal experiences. These changes reshaped the Cuban enclave economy, which not only grew in size, but also branched into a number of more specialized ethnic economies. In addition, the importance of ethnic solidarity for the functioning of the ethnic enclave has declined over time. In order to draw these findings together, I proposed a model of ethnic enclave development that reflects these changes over time and space. I presented these findings in a series of peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, each focusing on different aspects.
Alberts, Heike (2009): “The Missing Evidence for Ethnic Solidarity among Cubans in Miami,” Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies 7, 250-266
Alberts, Heike (2006): “Changes in Ethnic Solidarity in Cuban Miami,” Geographical Review 95(2), 231-248
Alberts, Heike (2006): “The Multiple Transformations of Miami,” in: Smith, Heather and Owen Furuseth, eds. Latinos in the New South: Transformations of Place, Ashgate, 135-151
Alberts, Heike (2006): “Geographic Boundaries of the Cuban Enclave Economy in Miami,” in: Kaplan, Dave and Wei Li, eds. Landscapes of the Ethnic Economy, Rowman and Littlefield, Lanham, 35-48
My secondary research focus is skilled migrations, specifically of international students and academics. A project carried out jointly with Helen Hazen (Macalester College) focused on return migration decisions of international students. We argued that the decision-making process is layered, with general conditions in the home country providing a framework that constrains the degree to which personal factors can be taken into account. We published two articles on this research—one primarily reporting the results of focus group research with students of selected nationalities, the other based on a larger survey of international students. Building on this work, I have also investigated changing enrollment patterns of international students after 9/11. These patterns cannot be explained solely by regulations implemented to increase security in the US, but are also a response to increasing international competition for international students and developments in the educational sector of several countries.
Jointly with Helen Hazen (Macalester College) I edited a book about international students and scholars in the United States. In addition to the introduction, we co-wrote chapters about international students' return migration intentions and the challenges of teaching with an accent, and I wrote a chapter about the return migration intentions of German faculty teaching in the United States. Other chapters were contributed by internationally known scholars such as Allan Findlay, Russell King, Kavita Pandit and Ken Foote.
Alberts, Heike and Helen Hazen, eds. (2013): International Students and Scholars in the United States: Coming from Abroad, Palgrave Macmillan, New York
Alberts, Heike (2007): “Beyond the Headlines: Changing Patterns in International Student Enrollment in the United States,” GeoJournal 68, 141-153
Hazen, Helen and Heike Alberts (2006): “Visitors or Immigrants? International Students in the United States,” Population, Space and Place 12, 201-216
Alberts, Heike and Helen Hazen (2005): “’There are always two voices…’ International Students’ Intentions to Stay in the United States or Return to their Home Countries,” International Migration 43(3), 131-154
Over time, this focus on skilled migrations has increasingly shifted towards examining the experiences of international faculty in the United States. Based on the results of a survey of students and interviews with international faculty, I identified the major problems occurring in the classroom and offered concrete advice for addressing these issues. In collaboration with Helen Hazen (Macalester College) and Rebecca Theobald (University of Colorado at Colorado Springs) I have extended this work to focus on the issues facing non-native English-speaking instructors specifically, again with the aim of systematically examining the challenges and developing strategies to improve communication between international instructors and their American students. Together we have also completed a survey-based study on student incivilities, with the goal of identifying which instructors are more likely to experience classroom incivilities and assessing the effectiveness of strategies to address these issues.
Alberts, Heike, Helen Hazen and Rebecca Theobald (2010): “Classroom Incivilities: The Challenge of Interactions between College Students and Professors,” Journal of Geography in Higher Education 34(3), 439-462
Alberts, Heike (2008): “The Challenges and Opportunities of Foreign-Born Instructors in the Classroom,” Journal of Geography in Higher Education 32(2), 189-203
Julie Cidell (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and I were able to turn our passion for chocolate into academic research. One of our articles, written mostly for a high school and undergraduate audience, is a comparison of the European and American chocolate industries. Our second article takes a more theoretical approach and applies convention theory to the issue of food quality, arguing that historical developments of chocolate manufacturing account for many of the differences in chocolate quality and consumption patterns among different countries. Because numerous colleagues contacted us to tell us that they are using our articles in their classes, I followed up with a single-authored article that provides concrete ideas for how cocoa and chocolate can be used to teach a variety of different skills in human geography classes.
Alberts, Heike (2010): “Using Cocoa and Chocolate to Teach Human Geography,” Journal of Geography, 109(3), 105-112
Cidell, Julie and Heike Alberts (2006): “Constructing Quality—the Multinational Histories of Chocolate,” Geoforum 37(6), 999-1007
Alberts, Heike and Julie Cidell (2006): “Chocolate Consumption, Manufacturing and Quality in Europe and North America,” Geography 91(3), 218-226
Historic Preservation/World Heritage Sites
I also have a long-standing interest in historic preservation and heritage sites, which allowed me to carry out smaller projects in collaboration with other colleagues. Together with Mark Brinda (then at the University of Minnesota) I completed a study about approaches to historic preservation in Quedlinburg, Germany, focusing on the tensions between preserving our urban heritage and making cities livable for their inhabitants. Another paper, written jointly with Helen Hazen (Macalester College), examined the challenges of preserving authenticity and integrity at UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Alberts, Heike and Helen Hazen (2010): “Maintaining Authenticity and Integrity at Cultural World Heritage Sites,” Geographical Review 100(1), 56-73
Alberts, Heike and Mark Brinda (2005): “Changing Approaches to Historic Preservation in Quedlinburg, Germany,” Urban Affairs Review 40(3), 390-401
I love watching sports, so it was only natural that sports would also become a research area for me. To date I have worked on three sports-related projects. I published an article about Berlin's failed bid to host the 2000 Olympic Games as well as a photo essay about the reuse of sports facilities after the Winter Olympic Games. A study about the migration of athletes resulted in a book co-authored with my colleague Kazimierz Zaniewski. In the book we examine the migration patterns of soccer, volleyball, and handball players to Western European Leagues and how changing rules of citizenship have transformed national sports teams.
Alberts, Heike and Kazimierz Zaniewski (2011): The Internationalization of European Sports Teams and the Issue of National Citizenship: Can Sports Transcend Political Borders? The Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston
Alberts, Heike (2011): "The Reuse of Sports Facilities after the Winter Olympic Games," Focus on Geography 54(1), 24-32
Alberts, Heike (2009): “The Olympic Games and Urban Development—The Case of Berlin, Germany,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 33(2), 502-516