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The Preludes to Migration

Anticipation and Imaginings of Mexican Immigrant Adolescent Girls

Lilia Soto

This article explores the immigrant journeys of Mexican immigrant adolescent girls raised in transnational families. Based on interviews conducted with this young cohort I examine how they experienced migration long before they neared the United States-Mexico border. Using a transnational approach to migration and the intersections of gender and age as analytical categories, I highlight how Mexican immigrant adolescent girls are uniquely situated within their families so as to have a different set of experiences from men, women, and adolescent boys. Their stories reveal that before migration their lives were saturated, because of their parents' departures and visits, with anticipation and imaginings about Napa Valley, California, and with interruptions of migration. Their lives always seemed to be on the brink of migration. This also means that the very reason for their parents' migration—to better provide for their children—placed the children en route, as it were, to the United States.

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Nina Glick Schiller

Questioning the units of analysis of contemporary migration theory—the nation-state, the ethnic group, and the transnational community—that structure discussions of migration and development, I argue for a global perspective on migration. In deploying these units of analysis, current discourses about migration and development reflect a profound methodological nationalism that distorts present-day migration studies. The global perspective advocated in this article addresses the reproduction and movement of people and profits across national borders. Such a perspective places the debates about international migration and development and the contemporary polemics and policies on immigration, asylum, and global talent within the same analytical framework, allowing migration scholars to address the mutual constitution of the local and the global.

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Transnationalization and Development

Toward an Alternative Agenda

Thomas Faist

The central puzzle discussed in this article is that, despite the new interest in migration and development, much of development studies focuses only on the transfer of resources from the North or West to the South and East. Yet transnational studies document two-way flows. In addressing this issue, the article answers three questions. First, what is new and what is old about the current 'mantra' of the migration-development nexus? Second, with regard to sustained cross-border transactions, which and what kind of transnational ties benefit development? Third, why is there a new enthusiasm about migration and development at this particular point in time? How is this new direction connected to shifting paradigms in development thinking and to changing geo-political alignments and forms of migration control after the end of the Cold War?

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Banu Nilgün Uygun

This essay explores the sexual-economic transactions between Turkish men and women from the former Soviet Union (FSU), focusing on Trabzon, a Turkish port town on the southeast coast of the Black Sea. I first provide background on 'the new migration' from the FSU to Turkey, paying particular attention to some of the political stakes in discussions of transnational sex work. I then explore these issues through the stories of two migrant women from the FSU who live in Trabzon. In these stories I highlight the ambiguity and complexity of sexual-economic transactions between local men and migrant women to show the inadequacy of the category 'sex work'. Finally, I turn to the demand side of the equation and consider the ideologies shaping the perceptions of local men. I situate them within the context of discourses of modernity in Turkey as they are reconfigured by Turkey's integration into global markets.

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Halil Can

Building on a long-term, multi-sited ethnographic research project, this article illustrates and interprets the transformation processes and empowerment strategies pursued by an originally Zazaki-speaking, multigenerational Alevi family in the Turkish-German transnational context. The family, which includes a number of Alevi priests (seyyid or dede), hails from the Dersim4 region of eastern Anatolia, and their family biography is closely bound up with a traumatic mass murder and crime against humanity that local people call “Dersim 38“ or “Tertele.“ Against the background of this tragedy, the family experienced internal migration (through forced remigration and settlement) thirty years before its labor migration to Germany. This family case study accordingly examines migration as a multi-faceted process with plural roots and routes. The migration of people from Turkey neither begins nor ends with labor migration to Germany. Instead, it involves the continuous, nonlinear, and multidirectional movement of human beings, despite national border regimes and politics. As a result, we can speak of migration processes that are at once voluntary and forced, internal and external, national and transnational. 5 In this particular case, the family members, even the pioneer generation labor migrants who have since become shuttle migrants, maintain close relationships with Dersim even as they spend most of their lives in a metropolitan German city. At the same time, they confront moments of everyday in- and exclusion in this transnational migration space that define them as both insiders and out- siders. Keeping these asymmetrical attributions in mind, I examine the family's sociocultural, religious, and political practices and resources from a transna- tional perspective, paying close attention to their conceptualization of identity and belonging as well as their empowerment strategies.

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Alessandro Jedlowski

This article analyzes the articulation between mobility and technology within life trajectories marked by migration, exile, and the search for economic achievement. It does so by focusing on a Nigerian couple’s (attempted) itinerary of return migration from Italy to Nigeria, and on the tensions that surround the role played by a specific transport technology, the shipping container, within this process. It highlights how, throughout the itinerary that brings the container from Italy to Nigeria, its social meaning and that of the cargo stored in it become the center of a series of tense interactions, in which diverging imaginaries about transnational mobility, migration, and life abroad come to the fore, and provoke radical transformations in the life of the people involved in the itinerary of the container itself.

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Negotiating between Shi’a and Catholic Rituals in Iran

A Case Study of Filipina Converts and Their Adult Children

Ashraf Zahedi

Religious rituals, while comforting for believers, may be uncomfortable for those who do not share their manifold meanings. Catholic Filipinas who marry Muslim Iranian men face mandatory conversion to Islam, necessitating ongoing negotiations between Christianity and Islam. My research suggests that these Filipinas held their first religion dear while participating in – for them – unpleasant Shi’a Muslims rituals. Their Filipino/Iranian children, familiar from birth with Shi’a Islam, felt at home with both religions, no matter which one they chose for themselves. The discussion of converts’ perceptions of Shi’a rituals contributes to the literature on transnational marriages and marriage migration.

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Resisting Fortress Europe

The everyday politics of female transnational migrants

Elisabetta Zontini

This article considers the political engagement used by Moroccan and Filipino women in Southern Europe. It argues that immigrant women should be seen as active subjects rather than passive victims who accept subordinate roles both in their families and in the societies where they have settled. In order to appreciate the kind of political agency migrant women deploy, the article suggests two preliminary steps: extending the definition of the political so as to incorporate power and inequalities beyond political institutions, and adopting a transnational perspective so as to include the social fields encompassing more than one country in which these women operate. The article goes on to describe the different ways in which the two groups of women negotiate their citizenship rights in Southern Europe, focusing especially on how they negotiate entrance and rights to settle and how they try to improve their living and working conditions.

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Introduction

Migrants, mobility, and mobilization

Pauline Gardiner Barber and Winnie Lem

This issue brings together the work of researchers who seek to illuminate the class configurations of contemporary global diasporas. Contributions proceed by problematizing the relationship between political mobilization and the class locations of women and men as they negotiate and renegotiate the social conditions under which they make a living as émigrés, people who are subject to and participants in the processes of global change. Although class and culture, as well as mobility and fixity, are often presented as oppositional lenses though which to view global transformations, articles in this issue explore the possibilities for translation of particularized local or cultural concerns into broader collective mobilizations of class activism, nationalist claims, or struggles for entitlement in the circumscribed political spaces migrants seek to create. The gender, ethnic, local, national, and other cultural components of identity and class formation are made explicit as contributors question how and why political struggles and activism may, or indeed may not, be carried forward in geographic and social border crossings as well as citizenship and migration scenarios. It is the contention of each contributor that any instance of activism, and also its absence, requires sustained critical examination of the politics and economics of its production and reproduction.

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Paul Christopher Johnson

Diaspora, and with it 'diasporic religion', has exploded as an area of research in the field of Religion, opening important paths of inquiry and analysis. This article traces the itineraries and intersections of Diaspora and Religion over the last two decades, especially vis-à-vis groups that activate multiple diasporic horizons. It then evaluates the risks of the overdispersion of Diaspora. To counter this, the article recommends more narrowly circumscribing Diasporic Religion in relation to 'territory', while at the same time rendering the question of what territoriality means more complex and diverse.