Week 13 – Latin Americans in the United States

There was a mistake in the syllabus.

The article by Portes on the New Latin nation is the last article of the semester.

I have always found this article insightful, even more so now, more than when Huntington was alive. With the recent elections in the US and Trump spreading fear, the so called “Hispanic Challenge” has made it to the White House.

This article, unlike many, give a short, but I would say well thought out introduction into Latin American migrations to the US. This is not the main goal of the article, but we get some context into the nature of immigrants, and now second and third generations (citizens).

I think the article made some interesting comments on ethnicity, education, the rise of transnational communities, and also on downward assimilation.

The line from a bureaucratic box to conceptualizing Hispanic as a ‘race’ is very disturbing, although not new since all “races” are social products. Yet, it is very interesting how things such as these evolve through time, and just as interesting, how they are adopted by the target population, which had nothing to do with coining the term (other names such as ‘Indian’ and ‘African-American’ come to mind).

As far as divisions into how second generations grow-up, much has to do with legal status as much as it does with a parent’s education. As the author notes, second and third generation Cuban-Americans have the highest success rate of the Latino populations in the US. This has to do with how much their parents excelled both in education and the workforce, but just as much, I would say it is the fact that Cubans can become permanent residents, and later citizens much easier than other migrant groups. Mexican migrants on the other hand, have the most difficulty in accessing a legal status that would make opportunities such as access to different educational avenues and/or employment opportunities available.

The most important thing that I took from this article however, was a fact-based analysis that demonstrates that pigeonholing populations based on prejudice does not hold-up to reality. Whether it is Huntington, or now Trump, Latino/a populations for the most part positively contribute to a society, which at many times acts as if it did not need them.

What do you think?

Week 12 – Transnational Migration and the Nationalization of Ethnic Identity among Japanese Brazilian Return Migrants

Even though this article is from 1999, I think it continues to have strong relevance, not only in how describing how Brazilian-Japanese communities in Japan live, work, and adapt. Tsuda explores and analyzes identity without essentialzing the concept of identity as fixed and localized as other authors on the subject have done before and after. The author also managed to dive deep through entering a community through ethnographic efforts, which developed into a thorough description and analysis of what Japanese-Brazilians experience in their daily lives in Japan.

What I found very interesting was his ability to discuss identity without necessarily having to pinpoint it. He mentions the centering and decentering process that an individual goes through whenever they move from one country to another; but this could also take place from city to city and neighbourhood to neighbourhood. I think explaining this at the outset of the article provided good insight into not necessarily looking at Japanese-Brazilians looking for some for of identity, but realizing that it is a relative thing that depends as much on time as it does on space.

The author also moves from different spaces such as the workplace, city streets, and neighbourhoods trying to explain how is it that someone that looks Japanese actually is not really considered one. And at the same time, how a person that has their whole life considered himself or herself to be Japanese deals with the refusal of those co-ethnics, and become a foreigner in their ancestral home. This begs the question as to why governments would assume that just because one has ancestors in a specific land, that they would be able to assimilate better than others that do not.

What I found interesting also was how a number of Japanese-Brazilians came to terms with being Japanese in Brazil, but not so in Japan. Usually, in articles of this kind that I read, there is a focus on the negative effects of identity formation when migration takes place. This however, need not be so; as we see there are multiple ways to deal with rejection. Coming to terms with their Brazilian-ness can be seen as a positive aspect of migration and return.

What do you guys think?

Week 11 – Kinship Paths to and from the New Europe: A Unified Analysis of Peruvian Adoption and Migration

This article falls somewhat out of the norm when it comes to research on migration. In comparing and contrasting migration with adoption, the author raises some interesting issues.  It focused on two forms of migration, which are usually not integrated, or even thought about as subsets of migration studies.

I found it interesting how adoption, at least legally is not viewed as a form of migration. On one hand, I can see the argument for not placing it under that rubric, since the idea, at least legally is that of a child becomes part of a different nation. On the other hand, the exclusion of a child having the ability to have access to two or more cultural, social, and political histories is difficult to comprehend.

This article touched on a couple forms of migration that are usually not integrated within migration studies since they are either not included as migration (adoption) or are seen mostly through a security lens (getting papers for others through a work ‘contract’) and talked about from that perspective.

It is also interesting how legality also follows social and cultural norms. In this case, the social and cultural norm of the ‘nuclear’ family is where the law rests upon, which makes the case perhaps for those that fight against universal rights since the nuclear family is not the only way to look at family. This difference makes people break or go-around the law when one decides to help another person to migrate. The work ‘contracts’ in this article present a case in point, where people that do not fit within the definition of ‘family’ are helped to migrate to Spain by people that see circumventing the law as necessary in order to help those they see as family.

As we continue, we often see that the line between legal/illegal depends on the prism. Although unlawful to bring people not directly related to a person, many times, a split takes place between what is legal and what is considered to be ‘right’ regardless of what others may think.

I also found the idea of return interesting. I wondered what does a person return to? One does try to find where they were adopted, but what happens after. The case of the girl that began an NGO is an anomaly. How does a person return to place they have no memory of?

The article could have gone deeper into the analysis of the people interviewed. It did not go deep enough either into how this form of migration is transnational, nor did it go far enough at the individual level as to see how it is that people that are adopted, or migrate through false work contracts are interrelated. From what I read, the links were tenuous at best.


What do you think?

Week 10 – Constructing transnational social spaces among Latin American migrants in Europe: perspectives from the UK

This article takes us back down to the local; it presents us what is referred to as a ‘slice of life’. I think these types of articles are important for at least two reasons. First, they usually (like this one) provide the reader with specific information on the sample of participants; and second, some type of insight into how this population goes about their lives. Having said that, the article concentrates on mobilities from Latin America to Europe, and specifically to the UK, but what I found a little lacking was a more precise view of how the people in London lived. For example, labor insertion is important, but just as important is where they reside, how they reside within the city itself; the article made it seem as if these people constantly lived outside their own local geographies. What I mean is that as much as remittances are important, many of us often forget that the people sending these remittances also have to live a daily life. We instead take them out of their daily successes, failures, and struggles, and only view them as cogs in the remittance machine, the faceless migrants sending money home without given them a second thought.

This article is interesting because on top of its focus on different forms of capital as first argued by Bourdieu, it deals with an aspect of migration that occurs on a daily basis, yet it is barely discussed, obtaining papers illegally in order to migrate, or as the author states it, non-perverse versus perverse forms of migration (documented versus undocumented). I’m not sure if the word ‘perverse’ is used to describe how different forms of migration are viewed and described in a legal way, or if the word is used colloquially to define illegal versus legal.

The article brought out two aspects, which I found of interest. First in using Bourdieu’s conceptualization of Human, Economic, and Social Capital, the author paints a picture of how each of these three forms are used within everyday life. The author sheds light on how different forms of migration help to develop different social spaces. For example, the difference in the development of social capital built by onward migration (living in a third, fourth, etc. country before entering the UK) versus those that migrated directly. It’s also telling how transnational links allows people to have access to fake or forged papers, which can be used to regularize legal status in a different country.

The interest in this article for me was that it deals directly with onward migration. Onward migration as a topic has been neglected by research since much of the attention has been paid to receiving countries, with source countries as a distant second. So the fact that a focus, at least in part on onward migration was part of the actual research was of interest to me. How people move usually offers good insight into how deep or not their networks (local and transnational) are. We can see this for example, the number of EU passport holders was significantly higher by those that strategically/or not, first migrated to countries such as Spain, Portugal, or Italy.

Another aspect I found interesting (as in many other parts of the world), the strong interest of parents’ want for their children to learn English. Somewhere along the way, English became a de facto lingua franca (much to the annoyance of other former colonial empires), where many parents are willing to sacrifice their own careers for their children to be able to learn “pure English”, as one of the respondents noted. Even though it would make sense at a functional level to have English as second language, there are studies and anecdotal evidence that learning this language is not just because it is necessary in a global marketplace; but just as important is the access to social and economic capital, which brings prestige that also places a premium on learning English.

When it comes to the buying of papers, in the end, as with most things, it comes down questions of legality and money, not morality. Is it moral (or right) to be able to buy your papers in order to have access to specific country?  If the answer is no, then it shouldn’t be accessible to anyone. However, so called ‘golden visas’ have become available in a number of countries to individuals willing to invest in the economy of a specific country, thereby granting residence permits, which sometimes lead to permanent residence, or in the case of the US, automatic permanent residence.





What do you think?

Week 9 – The Chinatown in Peru and the Changing Peruvian-Chinese Community(ies)

Although a long article, I believe it provided a solid introduction to Peruvian-Chinese communities in Lima.

It’s important to note what Lausent-Herrera points out, the difference between Cantonese and Fujianese. There really was no ‘Chinese’ migration per se. When we talk about ‘Chinese’ migration to the Americas, the populations that we are mostly talking about are Cantonese-speaking communities from Guangdong Province in southern China (where Hong Kong and Macau are located). So when the author mentions the arrival of the Fujianese, it is a big deal since between 95-98% of the Chinese in the Americas is Cantonese from southern China, which also helps to explain the strength of their networks.

As mentioned in the earlier reading by Hu-deHart and Lopez, Peru and Cuba were the largest recipients of indentured Chinese migration, 1849-1874.  If we look at the article on its own, we can see how Lima’s Chinatown has evolved in 160 plus years. However, we are missing some context since the article does not go deeper into how Chinese indentured workers first arrived in Lima.

By the 1860s, as the author notes, the first 8 year contracts were expiring. Although a significant number of workers re-contracted with plantations along the country’s coastline, another significant number began to migrate to urban centres. It is necessary to state that the violence, kidnapping, cheating workers on their wages, Chinese workers were treated in a similar fashion as African slaves. So, by the time contracts (although many tried to cheat workers into longer contracts), many decided to migrate to Lima’s Concepcion Market instead of having the possibility of returning home.

The beginnings of Lima’s Barrio Chino were sought with problems since the Chinese communities were viewed with suspicion and contempt by a significant number of the city’s population. This negative perspective was one of the efforts taken by the California Chinese. These migrants from California for the most part were successful businessmen that began to leave the US in the Antichinismo that led to the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882.

These migrants from California not only brought capital for investment, but just as important, they brought their social and commercial links with cities like San Francisco, Hong Kong and other centres where the Cantonese Diaspora settled in the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand.

The author takes pains in describing very thoroughly Chinese migration, settlement, and urbanization in a very straightforward manner. At the same time, because she is very thorough, her examination of Peruvian-Chinese communities assumes that the reader is very intimate with the subject matter, which at times makes the text difficult to read. Even with this drawback, the author is one of the few diving deep into migrations that fall outside the purview of the Atlantic and also one of the even fewer that concentrate on contemporary Chinese migrations to Peru, and not solely focused on the history.

One of the interesting aspects of this article is how urban space is always changing and shifting. We all know this, we’ve experienced it in the neighbourhoods that we grew-up in, moved away from, and even how they changed while residing in a specific locality. For example, the drive to gentrification that has taken place in many cities during the last 20 years. We can see how poor, abandoned, or sometimes just forgotten neighbourhoods have been re-built bringing with them all the positive and negative aspects of gentrification or revitalization depending on which side of the argument you sit in.

This article presents the shifts of a neighbourhood throughout a 160 year period. From an outlier suburb (now part of downtown Lima), La Concepcion market became home to many of this emerging nation-state’s poor that migrated to Lima from the interior, former Chinese indentured workers included. The key to the success (and also a source of many of its problems) was how this neighbourhood, like many around the globe, opened itself to global mobilities that wold connect it eventually to a Diaspora residing all over the world. The links created by the communities in this neighbourhood was also the source of many of its problems. With the migration of the California Chinese and the subsequent links to Hong Kong, San Francisco, and other cities round the world, the argument that the Chinese were some kind of fifth column, infiltrating the country, taking away jobs, not assimilating (or integrating) became part of the general folklore in the country’s antichinismo. Although the neighbourhood survived, a stigma around it was attached, which became detrimental to its success. And even though it remained, it wasn’t until the a990s when Peruvian-Chinese communities took an active role in revitalizing the Barrio Chino that it began to take on a new life even though the majority of the Cantonese communities no longer reside in this locality.

What do you think?

Week 8 – Peruvian Migration in a Global Context

Although this article is an introduction to a special journal edition on Peruvian migration, it introduces us to a mobility that is also not part of the everyday conversations of migration within the Americas. For the most part, when we think of migration in Latin America, we think of Mexicans or Cubans in the U.S. or southern cone migration (Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile) to Western Europe.

In the article, the authors argue that one of the main drivers for the diversity in destinations by Peruvian migrants is its own rich history of receiving migrants from around the globe. I would not dispute this fact; however, the same can be said for places such as Mexico and Cuba. Would geographical proximity and the imaginary of the American Dream play a stronger role than historical links?

Since the article is an introduction, it surveys Peruvian migration from about the 1930s onward. For our purposes however, it allows us to see how Peruvian mobility outside its borders is as diverse as the destinations.

Following the wave of Political refugees in the 1930s, migration in the 1950s and 60s to the U.S., Spain and Argentina vary widely on ethnicity, social, and political backgrounds.  While the majority going to New Jersey and Florida were Peruvians with indigenous backgrounds, whereas those going to Spain and Argentina were for the most part were upper class Criollos (Spanish ancestry). Just as a side note – Criollo, is not the equivalent of Creole in English or French. Whereas Creole in the latter two languages refers to a mixing of cultures, in Spanish it refers to the polar opposite.

The case of Spain is particularly of interest when it comes to Latin American migrations in general, and for this article, Peruvian mobilities. Following the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act in the United States, which made border control and migration a much more difficult endeavor, Spain was entering a period of prosperity; much of it as a result of its entry into the European Union after the fall of Franco and the country’s transition to democracy.

From the late 80s until Spain’s housing crash and recession in 2009, the country was a magnet in attracting unskilled and semi-skilled labour from Latin America. This type of migration was a strong shift from the traditional migration (50s to late 60s) from Latin America, which was mostly made up of wealthy students enrolled mostly in Law and Medicine. This shift is demographics, coupled with Spanish law, which allows citizens from Latin American countries, the Philippines, and Guinea (former colonies) to apply for citizenship after two years of residence, as well as to keep dual citizenship. In fact, Spain became the destination for the majority of Peruvians after the United States.

Now, if we take the assumption that migration is mostly done for economic reasons, then logic would tell us that since Spain’s recession, coupled with Peru’s rapid economic growth from 2000 to 2015, people would return in order to take advantage. This however, did not take place for at least a couple of reasons. First, many Peruvians had established themselves in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, etc., which made giving up all they worked for to move once again not a choice one wanted. Second, many of the Peruvians in Spain were from indigenous communities in Peru; and since many left Peru because of the discrimination they faced, even a severe economic recession did not make it palatable to return to Peru.

What do you think?

Week 7 – (Re)producing Salvadoran Transnational Geographies

Before getting into the article itself, I think it’s important to note that the authors wrote this piece from a world systems theory perspective (https://www.boundless.com/sociology/textbooks/boundless-sociology-textbook/global-stratification-and-inequality-8/sociological-theories-and-global-inequality-72/world-systems-theory-429-537/). In a nutshell, World Systems Theory argues that the world is divided into three areas – core, semi-periphery, and periphery. The argument goes that core countries dominate and exploit countries in the semi-periphery and periphery. This argument assumes that the levels of prosperity within each specific nation-state are relatively even. It does not take into account that core and periphery lives side-by-side in many areas of the globe such as wealthy and destitute neighbourhoods in Los Angeles, Sao Paolo, Mumbai, or Barcelona. To separate the globe into these three neat divisions moves us away from the multiple realities that co-exist simultaneously.

This article presents transnationalism from a different point of view, the structural. Much of what is written on transnational migration is written through the lens of the migrant as an individual or part of a family or group empowered in their risk taking to cross borders and frontiers, and be able to live a life, at many times with fear of removal; yet the argument goes that the migrant is in control of his/her actions. Although much of this is true, it presents migration as devoid or at least through a set of external factors that can be overcome with or without structures.

The creation of Temporary Protective Status (TPS), and its first application in 1990 to help Salvadoran communities escaping the civil war taking place perfectly embodies what the authors termed  ‘Permanent Temporariness’.  In examining TPS, as with some other forms of temporary residence, these policies work very well if one assumes a migrant automatically cuts-off all ties to their respective nation-state. From a policy standpoint, it allows people to remain, work, and study; however, when daily life occurs, policy and reality often diverge.

TPS as a policy, like the majority of policies regarding migration, view migrants through push-pull factors, which more often than not are developed with the view of migrants as individuals and not part of larger kinship groups, networks, or other social, cultural, or political relations. From this point of view, a person under the TPS program is not supposed to return to their homeland since it poses too many dangers; this however, poses a problem, are they supposed to cut-off the friends and family that stayed behind? Looking at it from a transnational viewpoint, the idea that not being able to keep networks alive (only via skype, etc.) negates how the majority of people live in social, cultural, and political circles, which at many times move across borders. At the same time, the inability to plan for the future becomes an issue for families in both the US and El Salvador. This similar insecurity is taking place right now with Haitian communities (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/13/haitians-miami-trump-immigration-crackdown).

Under TPS, Salvadorans (or anyone covered by this policy) cannot leave the country; and if done, that individual automatically becomes undocumented. The permanent temporariness experienced by Salvadoran migrants is compounded by ‘deportability’ that Boehm analyzed in the case of Mexican migration. The shift from documented to undocumented can take place at a rapid pace since Temporary Protective Status can be terminated, making deportability an ever-present aspect of life.

What do you think?

Week 6 – The Japanese in Peru. History of Immigration, Settlement, and Racialization

As last week’s article alluded to, migration from Asia gained steam during from the late 1850s onward. Factors driving migration to and from offer a number of different reasons for this movement.  Even though, at first blush, economic factors seem to prevail within the explanation the author examines, it quickly becomes evident that more complex reasons are behind Japanese migration to Peru.

Before I go on, I just wanted to point out how the issue of remittances has shifted over time. Until about give or take the 1980s and 90s, many migrants were treated as traitors in some countries of origin. All this changed when a number of governments (beginning with Mexico and India) began to realize how much money was coming through remittances. All of a sudden, a group of ‘traitors’ became heroes who sacrificed for their families, cities, and homeland. In the case of Peru, for example, remittances account for about USD$2 billion annually, which is peanuts if you compare it to the USD$21 billion going to Mexico each year. Yet it is interesting to see how a qualitative shift has taken place in how migrants are regarded.

The gold rush in the Americas and Australia became a point of interest for governments, private enterprises, and migrants alike. Governments in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Argentina, and Brazil, with large swaths of available cheap, or sometimes free land were able to capitalize in attracting migrants from different places and regions, with an affinity for European labour, which depending on the region meant Northern European such as in North America (Catholics such as the Italian s and Polish were regarded as ‘un-assimilateable’) and western Europeans in the Southern Cone (Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, and parts of Brazil).

On the other side of the Pacific, and in this case, Japan, migrants originated from a very specific geography; as well as social and cultural place in family hierarchy. If economics were our only lens, it would not make sense for only second or third sons to migrate; we would need to include women and the eldest son in each family. However, cultural proclivities, many times guide who migrates, which may or may not be the most ‘fit’ individual to do so. At the same time, it is interesting how the Meiji Monarchy decided to ‘outsource’ the issue of poverty by enticing the unwanted to leave for other lands.

Similarly to Chinese migrants, the first Japanese arrived as indentured workers to toil in cotton and sugar plantations, and like many, with thoughts of saving and going back after the four year contract was up. As history has shown however, it is rare for people to completely make a return.

One aspect of this migration, or at least one of the ideas behind it, was colonization through migration. However, what I found interesting was the absence of violence as with other colonization campaigns by empires (including the Japanese colonization of Korea and Manchuria). This idea of sending its subjects (Japan was not a democracy at the time) in order to help secure ‘the prosperity of the Japanese race’ seems a dubious argument at best in the way it was made. What does seem likely is the Crown shedding a positive light on their plans of ‘population control’ by getting rid of the unwanted poor from prefectures such Hiroshima, Okinawa, Kumamoto, and Fukuoka.

Peru’s rapid growth post-war with Chile it seems was not enough, it seems, to rid itself of the Social Darwinism prevalent in many regions of the globe. The drive to induce European migration and ‘improve our race’ only took a backseat when it became evident Peru could not compete with the nation building processes in countries with larger geographies, as well as the willingness to grant access to farmland.  The want by Peruvian landowners to keep migrants from owning land became one of the central reasons for Peru’s failure to attract migrants. Even in their want to attract European migrants, Peruvians landowners wanted free labourers, but also restricted access to land ownership. It seems, not wanting any competition whatsoever helped contributed to a lack of innovation and competitiveness in the global marketplace. In comparison, for example, Argentina became one of the most successful economies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

This article also touches on an aspect of the nation-building process, which never ceases to amaze me: the power of the top-down dissemination of the concept of nation (ethnicity, language, culture, etc.) and how it has become embraced in many regions. In the case of Peru, it is especially interesting how this notion of nation, which really only included about 5% of the population (10% if you included western Europeans in general, and not just those of Spanish descent) was able to be so pervasive.

What do you think?

Week 5 – Asian Diasporas in Latin America and the Caribbean: An Historical Overview

This article, although an introduction, reminds us of two important issues. First, to understand Latin America, we need to look across the Pacific, and not just the Atlantic, as many of us are taught. Second, globalization is a much older phenomenon than many of us are used to.

History, they say does not repeat itself, and although at times it may look that way, there are many similarities as there are differences; globalization is one such phenomenon. Today, we think of globalization as a contemporary issue that began in the 1960s, and took full force in the 1990s with the fall of the Soviet Union. If we look back however, globalization has expanded and retrenched our world twice before beginning in 1565, when the Acapulco-Manila Galleon first linked the globe, then roughly around the 1850s until the outbreak of World War I.

The article sheds light on a centuries old migration that has been omitted, excluded, or forgotten. It introduces Asian migration to the Americas, which like most migrations, ebb and flow throughout different time periods and geographies.  And although the article only surveys Asian migration, it serves as a good prelude to later readings on Japanese and Chinese communities.

It is interesting to see a glimpse of migration during the globalization of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. After the abolition of slavery, which in itself was gradual, there was still a need for cheap labour by different empires and emerging nation-states to work the vast plantations in different parts of the globe. Moreover, the gold rush taking place in the United States, Australia, Canada, Peru, etc. made the acquiring access to labour that much more pressing. The gold rush attracted a number of Chinese to California, which brought the attention of the Spanish Crown in trying to provide workers for the sugar plantations in Cuba (a Spanish colony until 1898). In 1847, what became known as La Trata Amarilla or Yellow Trade began with Cantonese migrants going to Cuba as indentured workers. The Peruvian government took notice, and by 1849, it enacted its own Trata. By 1874, the end of indentured migration to Peru and Cuba, over 225,000 Chinese had crossed the Pacific in ships that became known as ‘floating hells’. Similar events took place throughout Central America and the Caribbean, where African Slaves were traded for Chinese indentured workers. The history of Chinese migration to the Americas is one riddled with conflict, violence, and exclusion; for example, there is not one single country in the entire continent that did not at one time or another enact anti-immigration laws specifically targeting the Chinese.

On another note, it is important, as the authors point out, the history of the Chinese in Latin America “has been largely hidden in plain sight”. As with any history, the majority it is written by those in power, but I don’t think this answers the entire question. In reading many historical accounts on Latin America, the conflicts between colonizers, criollos (the descendants of Spanish colonizers), Afro-communities, and Indigenous populations is for the most part intertwined. At the same time, with the exception of Cuba, where Chinese-Cubans are viewed as part of those who fought for liberation from the Spanish, Chinese communities elsewhere were regarded through a negative lens. I’m still trying to figure this out.

We can also view this article and make some parallels with what is going on today. The majority of Chinese migrants to Peru and Cuba between 1847 and 1874 (the majority that arrived post-1874 were business people from Hong Kong and California) were for the most part recruited as unskilled labour for the sugar plantations in Cuba, and the cotton and sugar plantations, railroad construction, and mining in Peru. Following the end in the indentured worker program, the majority did not have enough funds to return home (many were cheated from their wages), which propagated an internal migration to the urban centres throughout Cuba and Peru. Like today, many worked in areas that locals did not want to, as well as a number started their own businesses with small restaurants in poor neighbourhoods called fondas being the most popular. Anti-Chinese or antichinismo became evident when people throughout he major urban centres began to blame this community for taking jobs away from native ‘Peruvians’, whatever that means. However, it was not until the United States passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, when other countries in Latin America also began to pass their own versions of this act.

Two reasons, at least in the Peruvian case why the Chinese were viewed in a negative light had to do with the extension of credit and travelling in parts of the country where others did want to such as the Amazon, and setting up shop there. The willingness of Chinese businesses to extend credit and sell things cheaper became a point of contention between locals and the new arrivals. Locals saw this competition as unwanted, and instead of adjusting and competing, they used the scapegoat of ‘job takers’ combined with racism to make the national government enact laws curtailing Chinese migration. The fact that many Chinese moved throughout the country, even to the Amazon, and become successful, also led to their vilification.

What do you think?

Week 4 – Beyond Bounded Communities: Network-Mediated Migration From an Urban Colonia in Mexicali, Mexico

This article is interesting, from my point of view, for a number of reasons: 1. Grounds transnational networks; 2. It explains how cumulative causation does not need to end up in saturation; 3. Personalizes migration.

For the first two weeks, in reading theory, we get an idea of how migration is viewed, how it moves, how it’s researched through a macro lens. Although it is very important to be knowledgeable of large structural patterns, cultural and social proclivities in different geographies, as well as the mobility of millions of people, it is important to begin at what many see as the true backbone of migration, family, kinship, or what we can refer to as primary social networks.

When we talk about migration, since for the most part, we concentrate on numbers; for example, how many people came in versus left within any given year, we rarely think about the trajectories that people take in order to migrate.  Both ‘cumulative causation’ and ‘saturation’ are good starting points. Working from the proven premise that migration begins with a ‘pioneer’ (usually a male, but as the past 20 years have shown, female migration as pioneers has grown exponentially), who settles in a specific locality, is able to secure employment and a place to live, after some time, this individual is a position to help people within a specific social network migrate. Causal migration, asserts that eventually, the networks within a specific kinship group will reach a point where migration is no longer viable since it would have a reached a point of saturation, where there may no longer be individuals willing to migrate. The author does an excellent job in proving that although cumulative causation does in fact take place, saturation need not occur.

This article brings out the strength of taking an anthropological lens. A thorough qualitative analysis can shed light and pinpoint where macro-studies have made assumptions that may not always be in tune with what is going on in the ground. Cumulative causation as a process is a direct result from the Mexican Migration Project (MMP), which since 1982 has surveyed Mexican communities residing in the United States. This project was later expanded in a Latin American Migration Project (LAMP). Both projects work are excellent examples of quantitative analyses; however, they need to be constantly tested on the ground for it to continue being a source of relevant information.

The author’s research sheds light on how the assumption of saturation does not occur. If we assume that people do not go outside their kinship networks, saturation will take place, but as Wilson shows, people move, they inter-marry, they make other social relations, which in turn expand social networks, which in this case also make them transnational social networks.

Lastly, as mentioned above, for all the millions of migrants around the globe, it all begins at the personal level. The decision to migrate, even with the money, the right papers, and an institution waiting for you and help you in whatever way they can (as many of us have done as international students), it is not a decision taken lightly. In some corners of the political spectrum, there is the idea that there is a need to close-off borders since if thrown open; the entire world would just migrate to PLACE COUNTRY NAME HERE. Migration however, is more than just picking-up and leaving, it begins with a decision, and in order to be successful, help from others that have migrated before.

In case you have time, here is an article on US/Mexico border.


What do you think?

Week 3 – “Quien Sabe?”: Deportation and Temporality Among Transnational Mexicans

Week 3 – “Quien Sabe?”: Deportation and Temporality Among Transnational Mexicans

This article brings to light a very important topic, and although a little difficult to follow at times, I think it presents a reality through a slice of life, based on a long history of migration between the United States and Mexico.

As the author states, migration between the U.S. and Mexico, at least along formal programs goes back to the end of WWII with the introduction of the Bracero program.  This program can be seen in parallel with the guest-worker programs in Germany and Switzerland during the same time period, even though the type of work done was different. Many temporary worker programs continue to exist in one way or another throughout the globe.

Before continuing with the analysis, it’s worth noting the Obama administration oversaw the highest number of deportations, ever. It’s too soon to see what this new administration will do, but it doesn’t look like it will get better. At the same time, it’s worth noting that since the beginning of the ‘great recession’ in 2007-8 until today, net migration (the difference between people coming-in and leaving) between the U.S. and Mexico is at zero. Moreover, if statistics can tell the future, “Asians Now Outpace Mexicans In Terms of Undocumented Growth” (https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/08/asians-now-outpace-mexicans-in-terms-of-undocumented-growth/432603/). Regardless of where in the world migration shifts from and toward, the United States, it seems, will continue to attract a large number of migrants (documented and undocumented).

This article is a result of ethnographic work carried-out by the author, and although she does not go deep into her ethnography, she does explore and analyze how this concept of ‘deportability’, not only affects those directly affected by the removal process (a euphemism for deportation), but also families and communities on both sides of the border.

The very real dualities of un/certainty and im/permanence, although I would say part of all migrants, be them international students, bankers, IT personnel, etc., but having to contend this un/certainty as an undocumented individual, couple, family, or as a mixed-status family creates a daily tension of ‘losing your whole world’ as one of the people interviewed for the study asserted.

The author presented the deportation, or the concept of deportability through a prism in which we expand the view of how a removal affects an individual, but just as important, family and community.

I found this aspect of the article defining since, for the most part, even though families and communities are always affected, most of the time, the focus is placed on the individual ‘removed’ through a prism of criminality.

Walking the fine line between a generational project that is migration and deportation, which voids a person’s future, as the author argues, presents a clear case of how the power of the nation-state is very present in everyday life.

Deportation, or ‘deportability’ also contributes to un/certainty within families, especially those of mixed status (some are U.S. citizens, while others maybe permanent residents, and others yet, undocumented), while at the same time, it creates a fear within communities that could impact future generations since it is possible families could remain as mixed status perpetually.

Since the issue of ‘deportability’ is a real threat, many cities in the U.S. have become what are known as sanctuary cities, where local police are prevented from asking people stopped, or arrested from their immigration status. This however is changing with Trump administration, which has vowed (we’ll see if it happens) to cut-off federal funding sources from cities that do not comply. For example, Texas just passed a law that makes local police check an individual’s immigration status even if not charged with a crime. Time will tell how this plays out.

What do you guys think of the article?

Week 2 – Theory continued

Although the article refers to Sociology as a discipline, I think it’s important to note that many of the social sciences of today (except Anthropology perhaps) continue to favour analyses based on the nation-state framework; that is how globalization affects a specific country without or trying not to make reference that economies and societies are more intertwined than many of us think.

I would propose that many, if not all of the 7 propositions made by the author affect all social sciences to some degree.

Proposition 1 intends to take us out of our comfort zone and start thinking in relational terms. How does migration affect two or more geographies? Transnationalism these days no longer involves how a sending and receiving countries are linked via migration, but also how countries are re-connected through migrant communities in different places (e.g. Brazilians in the U.S., Japan, and Portugal).

The author points out that in order to research migration; we need to at once take ourselves from narratives, designs, models, and methodologies favouring the nation-state since they are no longer appropriate in the world we live. I would agree with this statement, yet it is easier said than done since in many of our disciplines such as Political Science or Economics, we see the nation-state as the dominant player in how we analyze our daily life.

Proposition 2, as an extension from the overarching proposition 1, proposes an inter-disciplinary approach to migration studies, which can provide deeper answers to questions about migration. And as far as I would agree with this, and it is an aspect of research, which many, myself included take, brings about a number of obstacles (none of which are sufficient to deter this drive) that make it difficult for the researcher and for an education system as a whole perhaps. Our classrooms are more often than not segregated into disciplines from early age, so by the time we arrive at the MA or PhD level, where inter-disciplinarity has become prevalent, it is difficult for many students to let go, or even want to let go of how their entire education has prepared them. In this case, migration studies brings a good nudge forward since it makes a student think and reflect outside the borders of where they live. We can think about it in the way of how mobility within the EU, depending on who you ask (let’s think about Brexit) can be viewed as a positive or a negative…yet, we still regard it more often than not through a national prism.

Proposition 3 in my mind brings about an issue of perspective that I have with Sociology, the idea of a totality.  That Sociology stemmed out of the 19th Century nation-state building process, and its anchors rest within this history, makes it difficult for this discipline to step-out of nation-state. However, in many places today, Sociology and Anthropology are taught together in departments, which allows for the disciplines to learn from each other, especially when it comes to migration studies since the local, the meso,  the national, the international, and the global are scales that work best together not separately. Transnational and Translocal (e.g. city to city mobilities) migration are approaches that can expand how we see migration, not through the prism of the individual as a migrant, but through the eyes that no person, migrates alone, even if their movement is done individually. The social, political, and cultural networks that people move across borders are what proposition 5 (ideas and people as suspicious) brings forth.

Proposition 4, as much as it has to do with research, it is also a political one. In order to carry-out research, the vast majority of us require funding from some source or another. Since the majority of sources are devoted how a country analysis, even if it’s a comparative analysis, it still requires the nation-state to be the relevant unit, makes it difficult, not impossible, to develop, follow, and carry out research taking transnational or global research on migration since it may not be politically or methodologically relevant to an agency who’s mandate might be simply to research net migration.

Proposition 5, from what I can see was in full display yesterday during the elections in France through Marine le Pen’s continued assault on migration as destroying French identity. Whether globalization’s effect are positive and negative are definitely up for debate, but this idea of bringing back the good old days, or by making ‘America great again’ by design create an ‘us’ and ‘them’, ‘patriots’ versus ‘globalizers’. This point of view assumes that societies do not change, or at least should exist the way they always have; the problem is how does a society exist without change? It also assumes that the good old days were good for everyone, and that is just not so.

Castles right posits how the migration of capital and commodities are always welcome, yet foreign people and ideas are viewed in some corners with suspicion or derision.

Even though this article was published over a decade ago, it resonates even more so now in the way technology has taken over much of our lives, and how it has disrupted the labour systems of many places. The migrant as bogeyman (throughout history) as taking jobs away has always been around. I think however, that automation (and we’re still in its inception) have more to do with employment and unemployment than migration. Take platforms such as uber, lyft, airbnb, etc.; these companies have ‘disrupted’ many industries throughout the globe, which have led in some ways to unemployment. Another example, are some restaurants having ipads (California, Hong Kong, etc.) available instead of servers at restaurants, where people pick-up their food instead of being served. Automation allows one person to do a job that at times may have even required 6-7 people. It’s too early however, to see how it will affect labour markets since with new technologies, new jobs arise. This however, does not help a generation that may not have the skills to thrive in this new economy, making these grievances ripe for people such as le Pen et. al. to push their anti-immigration agenda.

Proposition 6 presents how mobility (not only physical) have created different social classes especially in many labour markets. Let’s look at the competition for talent that many countries have to lure skilled workers such as the blue card (EU), the H1B visa (US), Tier 1 and Tier 2 visas (UK), Highly skilled worker visas (Canada, Australia, and New Zealand). These visas have made it easier for skilled workers to be find employment throughout the globe, whereas the opposite is true for unskilled labour, which has seen even more barriers.

Proposition 7 in short makes the argument that since migration is a multi-layered phenomenon, it requires a multi-pronged approach that allows disciplines to dialogue and contribute to the development of theories that can be utilized in the field and at the policy level.

How did you guys find the article?

The following is text taken directly from this week’s recommened reading. It was published in 2002, and it just struck me. Does this world have some familiarity with what is going today?  What do you guys think?



In 1729, the Irish clergyman and satirist Jonathan Swift put forward a novel solution to the economic problems of a society being ravaged by British colo­ nialism: the poor should turn to ‘baby-farming,’ and earn a living by selling their children as fresh meat to the British landlords (Swift, 1955). Writing in the early 1980s, I suggested that baby-farming had indeed become a widespread practice not just in Ireland but also in many other countries on the periphery of areas of rapid economic growth. The difference was that the human exports sent to the booming industrial economies of Western Europe were consumed not as meat on the tables of the bourgeoisie, but as labor power in their facto­ ries (Castles et al , 1984:1).

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, we can imagine a new type of ‘transnational baby farming’ as the core of the global migration scenario of the next fifty years. Less-developed countries excluded from the positive aspects of economic globalization would help compensate for the demographic deficits of the rich countries. The scenario would look something like this.

  • Fertility rates will continue to plummet in rich industrial countries, leading to aging populations and shrinking labor Increasing prosperity and improved education will mean that few local people will be available for low-skilled jobs.
  • Certain areas of Africa, Asia and Latin America will suffer exdusion from the mainstream global economy, resulting in deepening poverty, conflict and Fertility and population growth will remain high – despite AIDS and other epidemics. Migration in search of work will appear as the only way out for millions of people.
  • lntermediate-level countries will experience uneven forms of industrial­ ization and growth, but large countries like Brazil, Mexico, India and China will still have huge reserves of labor-market As educa­ tion systems improve, many of these young workers will have high skill levels, but will be unable to find work at home.
  • The rich countries will collaborate with each other and put pressure on

the rest of the world to tighten restrictions on migration, especially of the low-skilled. Rigorous surveillance measures using new technologies will raise the human costs of migration, leading to thousands of deaths in the oceans, mountains and deserts which migrants try to traverse. But enough people will get rhrough to encourage others to try.

  • Rich countries and NICs will use unskilled migrants as the labor force for

3-D jobs, and, increasingly, for aged care. Some such workers will be brought in through contract labor systems which deny them basic rights, while many others will be illegal migrants or asylum seekers.

  • The education systems of the intermediate countries will provide skilled workers of all kinds for the rich countries.
  • In addition, since the populations of rich countries will have virtually ceased to reproduce, immigrants from intermediate countries – carefully selected on the basis of economic, cultural and cultural criteria which serve as surrogates for race – will be allowed to settle, form families and replenish the


Like all distopias, this one is unlikely to come to pass in such a radical form – although it is based on real current trends. The main force undermin­ ing it, as in the past, will be the human agency of millions of migrants, as well as other members of both sending and receiving communities. Transnational communities resulting from migration will, through thousands of micro-strate­ gies, seek security and humane conditions for their members. By doing this, they will probably become a major factor undermining the plans of the mighty. The furure will probably be as messy as the past, and all predictions are likely to be wrong, but one thing is dear: there is no return to the neat idea of dosed­ off nation-states with homogenous national communities.


Interesting article on the creation if identity if you guys have some time.


Week 1 – Theory

One thing that I’ve learned over the years is that since migration is such a complex issue, there cannot, or at least in my view, there ought not to be a general theory of migration. As much as migration is as old as human history, theoretical currents on this topic shift, change, and emerge at different times through different lenses. I think Faist denoted that at the start of the article when he noted that the “term ‘theory’ here relates to theoretically guided empirical propositions, ranging from thick descriptions aiming at particular events and sites, on one end of the continuum, to grand general theory at the other end. Neither is this an effort to develop an integrated theory of diaspora and transnationalism.”

Since human mobility as does the perception of it depending on the geography where one lives, as well as different conceptions of what migration should and ought to look at, the view of transnationalism and diaspora bring forth interesting debates.

The word ‘diaspora’ has, for a long time meant to describe the struggles and forced migrations of Jewish, and, later Armenian communities. This has changed during the last decade or two with the perceived increased in international migrations, and the coining of the ‘transnational’, which a number of people have intertwined with diaspora. The reason I say perceived, is that in actual terms, the percentage of people migrating, has actually dropped somewhat since the last great migration(s) that took place between 1849 – 1914, where almost 6% of the globe was on the move, opposed to about 3.5-4% today. Human mobility has not changed as much as people’s, societies, and governments’ view have.

This is where diaspora and transnationalism come together. Since diaspora brings forth images of dispersion, yet at the same time keeping a community as one even if geographically dispersed; transnationalism brings together communities that have a present geographic entity, the contemporary nation-state that brings everyone together as one.

The idea behind transnationalism is the extension of the nation-state across its geographic borders. Although the nation-state is not that old, it has taken over the way people view things such as citizenship, political rights, etc. However, people residing outside their state of citizenship have not always been looked at in a positive manner. It was about 20 years ago that many countries saw the benefits that remittances were having on sending countries such as Mexico, India, Peru, etc. This economic impact was one of the drivers that led many nation-states to shift their perceptions from ‘traitors’ to the nation to ‘heroes’ sacrificing for the nation. This qualitative shift became one of the drivers, which led to interest in the rise of ‘transnational communities’, many of which already existed for many years under a dark cloud as people that abandoned their homeland.

This shift in perception brought forth a number of changes in how populations were viewed. Transnational communities through the prisms of networks, imagined communities, de-territorialized yet connected became an important aspect of academic inquiry. This shift brought many communities ‘out from the cold’, which also played a vital role in accessing political rights such as voting in national elections, as well as political recognition that these communities also wielded a strong political voice, while residing in other countries. Transnationalism has also led to an increase in dual citizenship, social and economic networks working across boundaries for the betterment of the localities people hail from. All this has been accelerated through the Internet, and cheaper and faster transportation.

Diaspora on the other hand is one of the original terms of displaced communities and populations usually linked through ethnic and/or religious ties. As the author mentions, rightly I think, is that diaspora as an analytical concept can be difficult to research without the political component.

Having said this, what do you guys think of the reading?

Course Description


Migration to, from and within Latin America are made up of structures that are in constant movement and transformation. Mobilities from the 19th Century to present day have shaped and reshaped a continent socially, culturally, economically, and politically.

Today there is a much more intimate and complex relationship between migrants and receiving societies. The changes on both the structure of community and the strategies of migration depend on the different social and economic situations of the countries in which migrants have settled as well as on the ways in which receiving societies have adapted to this presence.

This survey course will take a look at different migratory movements from different regions of the globe to Latin America. It will discuss historical and contemporary movements from Europe and Asia, human mobility across the Atlantic, North America and Asia, as well as intra-continental migration.

This course will introduce students to migratory movements from different regions of the globe, and present the Latin American continent as an integral part of such global migratory processes.

The medium of instruction will be in English; however, coursework can be done in both Spanish and English.

Students wishing to participate in this class can register on Blackboard.

Class begins on the week of April 18, 2027 and runs unitl July 22, 2017

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