Changing Face of Home, The

Changing Face of Home, The: The Transnational Lives of the Second Generation

Peggy Levitt
Mary C. Waters
Copyright Date: 2002
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 420
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  • Book Info
    Changing Face of Home, The
    Book Description:

    The children of immigrants account for the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population under 18 years old—one out of every five children in the United States. Will this generation of immigrant children follow the path of earlier waves of immigrants and gradually assimilate into mainstream American life, or does the global nature of the contemporary world mean that the trajectory of today's immigrants will be fundamentally different? Rather than severing their ties to their home countries, many immigrants today sustain economic, political, and religious ties to their homelands, even as they work, vote, and pray in the countries that receive them. The Changing Face of Home is the first book to examine the extent to which the children of immigrants engage in such transnational practices. Because most second generation immigrants are still young, there is much debate among immigration scholars about the extent to which these children will engage in transnational practices in the future. While the contributors to this volume find some evidence of transnationalism among the children of immigrants, they disagree over whether these activities will have any long-term effects. Part I of the volume explores how the practice and consequences of transnationalism vary among different groups. Contributors Philip Kasinitz, Mary Waters, and John Mollenkopf use findings from their large study of immigrant communities in New York City to show how both distance and politics play important roles in determining levels of transnational activity. For example, many Latin American and Caribbean immigrants are "circular migrants" spending much time in both their home countries and the United States, while Russian Jews and Chinese immigrants have far less contact of any kind with their homelands. In Part II, the contributors comment on these findings, offering suggestions for reconceptualizing the issue and bridging analytical differences. In her chapter, Nancy Foner makes valuable comparisons with past waves of immigrants as a way of understanding the conditions that may foster or mitigate transnationalism among today's immigrants. The final set of chapters examines how home and host country value systems shape how second generation immigrants construct their identities, and the economic, social, and political communities to which they ultimately express allegiance. The Changing Face of Home presents an important first round of research and dialogue on the activities and identities of the second generation vis-a-vis their ancestral homelands, and raises important questions for future research.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-353-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-ix)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. x-xi)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xii-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-30)
    Peggy Levitt and Mary C. Waters

    At lunchtime the loud, cavernous cafeteria at Framingham High School fills with students talking and laughing with one another. They eat tortillas, rice noodles, and chapatis. They speak more than fifteen languages. Banners with flags from more than twenty-seven countries represented by the student body swing from one corner of the ceiling to the other.

    Located twelve miles outside of Boston, Framingham is a microcosm of the United States. Once a predominantly white, working-class community, it is now home to numerous new immigrant communities. Many of the students at the high school are either immigrants themselves or members of the...

    • Chapter 1 An Early Transnationalism? The Japanese American Second Generation of Hawaii in the Interwar Years
      (pp. 33-42)
      Reed Ueda

      Scholars have explored the presence of transnational identity among the children of immigrants by examining the dynamics for forming perceptions of the homeland. For example, in this volume, Nazli Kibria and Andrea Louie study the domains for cultural contact that produce knowledge and awareness of the homeland in today’s Asian American second generation. For a segment of this cohort, study and travel in the homeland in managed settings arranged by the home state provide a means for learning transnational identifications. For them and for most second-generation Asians, direct firsthand experiences in the homeland are still quite limited, discontinuous, and subject...

    • Chapter 2 Severed or Sustained Attachments? Language, Identity, and Imagined Communities in the Post-Immigrant Generation
      (pp. 43-95)
      Rubén G. Rumbaut

      A woman in a camp in Croatia captured in a vivid metaphor the war-torn refugees’ sense of loss of homeland: “They are like people who have lost a limb. Amputees. They can still feel their homeland, even though it’s gone. It tingles. . . . They can dream it’s still there” (Merrill 1995). Less metaphorically, Benedict Anderson asked in hisImagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalismwhat explains “theattachmentthat peoples feel for the inventions of their imaginations,” even to the point of being ready to die for these inventions:

      In an age when it...

    • Chapter 3 Transnationalism and the Children of Immigrants in Contemporary New York
      (pp. 96-122)
      Philip Kasinitz, Mary C. Waters, John H. Mollenkopf and Merih Anil

      The united states is once again a nation of immigrants. About 850,000 documented and at least 225,000 undocumented immigrants arrive in the country every year, and about one-third of the nation’s population growth is now the result of migration from abroad. The political debate over immigration has generally been dominated by “hard-headed” issues of economics and demographics: Do immigrants “take” jobs from natives? Do they contribute more than they take from the public coffers? Is the population growth to which immigration contributes a good or bad thing? Yet the passion with which these issues are debated reveals, we suspect, a...

    • Chapter 4 The Ties That Change: Relations to the Ancestral Home over the Life Cycle
      (pp. 123-144)
      Peggy Levitt

      Just when she was about to begin her freshman year at Yonkers High School in New York, Lizzie Santos’s parents decided to send her to live with her Dominican grandparents so that she could attend school in Santo Domingo. They wanted to protect her from the gangs, drugs, and violence that they felt plagued their urban neighborhood. Although Lizzie worried that she would not fit in after having spent so many years in the United States, she soon realized that her fears were unfounded. At least 20 percent of her 425 private-school classmates were also U.S.-born—reverse migrants like herself....

    • Chapter 5 Life Course, Generation, and Social Location as Factors Shaping Second-Generation Transnational Life
      (pp. 145-167)
      Robert C. Smith

      Why and how would second-generation Mexicans in New York participate in transnational life? And what factors would affect the nature of that participation in the short and long terms? I pursue answers to these questions in this chapter by analyzing second-generation transnational life among the children of migrants from a town in rural Puebla, Mexico, that I have called Ticuani. The analytical work is twofold: to demonstrate that transnational life exists among the second generation, and to theorize about its etiology—how it emerges, what its nature and limits are, and how it matters. My intent is to offer a...

    • Chapter 6 The Generation of Identity: Redefining the Second Generation Within a Transnational Social Field
      (pp. 168-208)
      Georges E. Fouron and Nina Glick-Schiller

      Georges woke up laughing. He had been dreaming of Haiti, not the Haiti he had visited last summer, but the Haiti of his youth. But it wasn’t actually the Haiti of his youth either, as he realized when he tried to explain to his wife, Rolande, the feeling of happiness with which he had awakened. He was walking down Grand-Rue, the main street of his hometown of Aux Cayes. The sun was shining, the streets were clean, and the port was bustling with ships. He and his friends were laughing, joking, and having a wonderful time. Once he was awake,...

    • Chapter 7 On Deconstructing and Reconstructing the Meaning of Immigrant Generations
      (pp. 211-215)
      Susan Eckstein

      The essays in this volume on second-generation post-1965 immigrants focus on two central issues: whether immigrants and their children have different assimilation experiences and different transnational ties, and the adequacy of the long-established assimilationist paradigm to account for the views and involvements of the so-called new immigrants, who have been peopling the United States since the mid-1960s.

      Immigrant transnational identity and activity proves to be not unique to post-1965 immigrants. Italians who came earlier in the century, for example, retained close ties with their home country. However, technological innovations have allowed for a speedup in cross-border communication and transportation, and...

    • Chapter 8 Second-Generation Transnationalism
      (pp. 216-220)
      Joel Perlmann

      Among historians of the earlier European immigrations, the first question about transnationalism that one often hears is, Just how much is really new in the new transnationalism?, or in this case, How much is really new in the new second-generation transnational behavior? The point most often made about historical precedents for transnationalism is that knowing about the precedents helps dampen excessive claims that particular experiences observed in our own time are novel. Dampening excessive claims, of course, is useful, and yet it should be recalled that even if transnationalism is not entirely novel, it still deserves attention. We do not,...

    • Chapter 9 The Study of Transnationalism Among the Children of Immigrants: Where We Are and Where We Should Be Headed
      (pp. 221-241)
      Michael Jones-Correa

      This volume examines the life trajectories taken by the children of immigrants in the United States, who live in a world where rapid communication and travel make sustained contact with their parents’ country of origin more possible today perhaps than ever before. Under these conditions, immigrants’ children who have by and large grown up in the United States may orient themselves toward their parents’ country of origin, toward the United States, or toward both. How will the second generation’s ties and loyalties play out? Will immigrants keep up the transnational ties of their parents or abandon them in favor of...

    • Chapter 10 Second-Generation Transnationalism, Then and Now
      (pp. 242-252)
      Nancy Foner

      Much has been written about transnational practices among immigrants who come to the United States—about the origins of these practices, the forms they take, how extensive they are within and among different groups, and their consequences. A critical question is whether transnationalism is in fact a first-generation phenomenon, or whether it will persist among the children of immigrants who are born and raised in this country.

      In thinking about this question it is useful to make some comparisons with the past as a way to better understand the social, economic, and political conditions that may promote and sustain transnational...

    • Chapter 11 There’s No Place Like “Home”: Emotional Transnationalism and the Struggles of Second-Generation Filipinos
      (pp. 255-294)
      Diane L. Wolf

      Sociologists of immigration have recently turned their attention to the next generation—the children of immigrants, or “the second generation,” asserting that the future success and well-being of particular immigrant groups can be partially discerned from their children’s ability to assimilate, adopt English, and succeed in school (Rumbaut and Cornelius 1995; Portes 1995). Children of immigrants, or “second-generation” youth, are defined as children born here to immigrant parents and children born abroad who emigrated at a very early age (Portes 1996, ix).¹ In comparative studies of English language rates, test scores, and GPAs, Filipino second-generation youth look relatively successful and...

    • Chapter 12 Of Blood, Belonging, and Homeland Trips: Transnationalism and Identity Among Second-Generation Chinese and Korean Americans
      (pp. 295-311)
      Nazli Kibria

      In amy tan’s 1989 best-selling novelThe Joy Luck Club, Jing-Mei Woo, an immigrant mother, tells her incredulous and Americanized second-generation daughter that “once you are born Chinese, you cannot help but feel and think Chinese. . . . Someday you will see, . . . it is in your blood, waiting to be let go.” The mother’s words ring true for the daughter on her first trip to China: “The minute our train leaves the Hong Kong border and enters Shenzhen, China, I feel different. I can feel the skin on my forehead tingling, my blood rushing through a...

    • Chapter 13 Creating Histories for the Present: Second-Generation (Re)definitions of Chinese American Culture
      (pp. 312-340)
      Andrea Louie

      This chapter brings together multiple themes to provide a new perspective on how second- (and later-)generation children of immigrants create transnational relationships with their country of ancestral origin. For my analysis, I draw from my research on American-born Chinese Americans who participate in family history and genealogical projects that culminate in their return to their ancestral villages. Within the context of studies of transnationalism and the second generation, the key question is, Why and how is China important for American-born Chinese Americans? How do they learn about China and Chinese culture and make this information relevant to their identities as...

    • Chapter 14 Second-Generation West Indian Transnationalism
      (pp. 341-366)
      Milton Vickerman

      In recognition of the growing importance of globalization, recent research on immigration has focused increasingly on transnationalism (see, for example, Cordero-Guzman, Smith, and Grosfoguel 2001). This focus underscores how the global interconnectedness of national cultures, political systems, and economies— to cite only a few of the more important arenas of action—shapes the flow and adaptation of migrants in different regions of the world. In this way, transnationalism avoids representations of migration as a simple movement of people from sending to receiving countries and emphasizes that it is a process in which cross-border contacts between such societies are consciously cultivated....

    • Chapter 15 “Việt Nam, Nu’ó’c Tôi” (Vietnam, My Country): Vietnamese Americans and Transnationalism
      (pp. 367-398)
      Yen Le Espiritu and Thom Tran

      The globalization of labor, capital, and culture, the restructuring of world politics, and the expansion of new technologies of communication and transportation—all have driven people and products across the globe at a dizzying pace. In the last decade, reflecting the current saliency of transnational processes, scholars have shifted their analytical paradigms from the dualism inherent in the classic models of migration—the assumption that migrants move through bipolar spaces in a progressive time frame—to nonbinary theoretical perspectives that are not predicated on modernist assumptions about space and time (Kearney 1995, 227–28). Recent writings on the “transnational socio-cultural...

  9. Index
    (pp. 399-408)