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The Other Side of the Fence

The Other Side of the Fence

Sheila Croucher
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  • Book Info
    The Other Side of the Fence
    Book Description:

    A growing number of Americans, many of them retirees, are migrating to Mexico's beach resorts, border towns, and picturesque heartland. While considerable attention has been paid to Mexicans who immigrate to the U.S., the reverse scenario receives little scrutiny. Shifting the traditional lens of North American migration,The Other Side of the Fencetakes a fascinating look at a demographic trend that presents significant implications for the United States and Mexico.

    The first in-depth account of this trend, Sheila Croucher's study describes the cultural, economic, and political lives of these migrants of privilege. Focusing primarily on two towns, San Miguel de Allende in the mountains and Ajijic along the shores of Lake Chapala, Croucher depicts the surprising similarities between immigrant populations on both sides of the border. Few Americans living in Mexico are fluent in the language of their new land, and most continue to practice the culture and celebrate the national holidays of their homeland, maintaining close political, economic, and social ties to the United States while making political demands on Mexico, where they reside.

    Accessible, timely, and brimming with eye-opening, often ironic, findings,The Other Side of the Fencebrings an important perspective to borderlands debates.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79918-9
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. Introduction REVERSING THE LENS
    (pp. 1-26)

    Not only at the borders, but also in cities and towns throughout this North American country’s heartland, immigrants are arriving in increasing numbers. Few speak the language of their adopted land, and most reside and socialize within an isolated cultural enclave. They continue to practice their own cultural traditions and celebrate their national holidays. The grocery stores are stocked with locally unfamiliar products that hail from the immigrants’ homeland. These settlers maintain close political, economic, and social ties with their country of origin, and establish local organizations designed to promote its values. They vote in foreign elections, raise money for...

  5. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
    (pp. 27-75)

    Located in the mountains of southwest Mexico, just south of Guadalajara, is Mexico’s largest lake—Lago Chapala. The lake is surrounded by quaint fishing villages, including Ajijic—a Nahuatl name that means “the place where the water springs forth.” Walking through Ajijic today, a visitor will be struck by the natural beauty of this strip of land nestled between mountains and the lake, by the colonial churches and narrow cobblestone streets, and by the picturesque piers from which local Mexican fishermen still head out in the early morning. Strolling north from the lakeshore into the village, the visitor will pass...

  7. Two HIGH-TECH MIGRANTS: Technology and Transterritoriality
    (pp. 76-107)

    In February 2007, I visited the home of an American couple who had been living in Ajijic for seven years. At one point, the American woman gestured to the telephone on her colorfully tiled Mexican countertop and said, “That phone thinks it’s in Houston.” My initial, although unspoken, reaction was “Who can blame it?” The Chevrolet Silverado truck parked on the dusty street out front sported U.S. license plates and a “Don’t Mess With Texas” bumper sticker; a glass-encased, Texas-size American flag covered the wall behind the disoriented phone; and the flat-screen television was broadcasting audibly Fox News. Her comment...

  8. Three WAVING THE RED, WHITE, AND AZUL: The Transnational Politics of Americans in Mexico
    (pp. 108-135)

    On a warm June 4, 2006, close to a hundred registered Democrats gathered in Finnegan’s restaurant for their organization’s monthly meeting. Chairperson Gretchen Sullivan presided over the meeting, which included an invited speaker and agenda items pertaining to how the group would focus its fund-raising energies for the 2006 U.S. midterm elections. They had raised over $10,000 for presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004 and now debated whether to support the party as a whole or channel money to particular candidates in tight swing state races. Many members were sporting anti-Bush paraphernalia, and more was for sale at the door....

  9. Four “THEY LOVE US HERE!”: Privileged Belonging in a Global World
    (pp. 136-174)

    One February morning, along the shores of Mexico’s Lake Chapala, I was having breakfast with members of the local Thomas Paine Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. After discussing the apparent peculiarity of a patriotic U.S. organization with chapters located throughout Mexico, and the reasons these particular Daughters decided to cross the border, I asked about the reaction of local Mexicans to the American presence along Lake Chapala. One of my breakfast companions replied, without hesitation, “We are a national treasure.” Given that multiple, transnational belongings were a central theme of my study, I needed to clarify which...

    (pp. 175-208)

    Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington begins his article “The Hispanic Challenge” with the following warning (2004, 30):

    The persistent inflow of Hispanic immigrants threatens to divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures, and two languages. Unlike past immigrant groups, Mexicans and other Latinos have not assimilated into mainstream U.S. culture, forming instead their own political and linguistic enclaves—from Los Angeles to Miami—and rejecting the Anglo-Protestant values that built the American dream. The United States ignores this challenge at its peril.

    Huntington identifies six aspects of Mexican immigration that render it particularly threatening to the United States:...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 209-212)
    (pp. 213-234)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 235-243)