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Documenting Transnational Migration

Documenting Transnational Migration: Jordanian Men Working and Studying in Europe, Asia and North America

Richard T. Antoun
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 338
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  • Book Info
    Documenting Transnational Migration
    Book Description:

    Most studies on transnational migration either stress assimilation, circulatory migration, or the negative impact of migration. This remarkable study, which covers migrants from one Jordanian village to 17 different countries in Europe, Asia, and North America, emphasizes the resiliency of transnational migrants after long periods of absence, social encapsulation, and stress, and their ability to construct social networks and reinterpret traditions in such a way as to mix the old and the new in a scenario that incorporates both worlds. Focusing on the humanistic aspects of the migration experience, this book examines questions such as birth control, women's work, retention of tribal law, and the changing attitudes of migrants towards themselves, their families, their home communities, and their nation. It ends with placing transnational migration from Jordan in a cross-cultural perspective by comparing it with similar processes elsewhere, and critically reviews a number of theoretical perspectives that have been used to explain migration.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-537-6
    Subjects: Sociology, Law, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Key to Transliteration of Arabic Letters and Symbols
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. List of Tables, Chart, Diagram, Map, Key
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  6. Introduction: Transnational Migration, the Themes Pursued in Its Analysis, and the Jordanian Background of the Case Study
    (pp. 1-34)

    This book is an in-depth anthropological case study of the experience of transnational migration of villagers from one community, the village of Kufr al-Ma, in one country in the Middle East, Jordan. It is in-depth not only in its combination of standard research techniques (questionnaires, interviews and surveys) with participant observation to provide greater contextualization for the individuals and families studied, but also in drawing on the data gathered in nine research trips over a period of thirty-nine years, often dealing with several generations of the same family in the same community. By recording the experiences of these migrants the...

  7. 1 The Army as an Extension of Society and a Vehicle for Multicultural Exposure and Attitudinal Change
    (pp. 35-78)

    If one powerful stream of migrants has sought work across adjoining international borders (Arabia) and another has crossed the seas and continental land masses for higher education, a third has reached foreign lands and cultures through the Jordanian army. This third stream is the subject of this chapter. The Jordanian army has played a key role in the development of the Jordanian state and society. The Jordanian royal family has based its support on the tribes of Jordan, on ethnic minorities such as Christians, Chechens, and Circassians, on a segment of the Palestinian population, and, most important, on the armed...

  8. 2 The Jordanian Diaspora in Arabia: Instrumental Circulatory Migration, Cultural Diversity, and Ethnic Stratification
    (pp. 79-116)

    The first person now working abroad to leave the village of Kufr al-Ma for an extended period for the purpose of obtaining a higher education was the son of an army officer who went to Egypt in 1957 for his last year of high school. In the following year he left for West Germany where he spent eleven years studying medicine in Heidelberg, thereafter opening a practice in Mannheim, Germany where he now lives. In 1963 two other young men left the village for an extended period abroad. One was the son of the clerk of the local civil court,...

  9. 3 Two Sojourners Abroad: Migration for Higher Education to England and Germany
    (pp. 117-134)

    One day in the winter of 1986 I was sitting in the men’s guest room (maḍafa) of a large extended family, along with their relatives and neighbors, when a middleaged man engaged me in conversation, indicating that he had just returned to Kufr al-Ma from Saudi Arabia where he was a traveling sales supervisor for Winston cigarettes!

    My previous visit to the village in 1979 had alerted me to the growing importance of occupational mobility and transnational migration, and so I asked each of the seventeen men sitting around the guest room for their current occupation and place of work....

  10. 4 Migrants to Greece: Living in the World, Integration, and Maintaining Ethnic Identity
    (pp. 135-154)

    The overwhelming majority of international migrants for higher education (to fourteen different countries) have returned to Jordan to live and work after finishing their degrees. The two exceptions to this pattern are those who went to study in Greece and the United States. It is the former group of nine young men who left Jordan for Greece between 1968 and 1983 that is the subject of this chapter. Greece and the United States are also the only countries where a substantial number of Jordanians married foreign women. This chapter will focus on the key mechanisms, cultural, social, economic, and political,...

  11. 5 The Quest for Education in Pakistan: The Variety of Experience in a Global Society
    (pp. 155-174)

    The largest number of students from Kufr al-Ma seeking higher education abroad by far (twenty-seven) went to Pakistan. In some ways they resembled the eight students who went to Greece: They were young (in their twenties), unmarried, and led by a pathfinder (migrant One in Table 5.1), who in turn recruited other close kinsmen and co-villagers (Two, Three, and Four in Table 5.1) in a process of chain migration that was still continuing (five students were still in Pakistan) when I conducted interviews with returned migrants in Kufr al-Ma in 1986. The pathfinder is the student who leads the way...

  12. 6 Longer Stay, Faster Change, Ruder Shock: Migrants to the United States, Coping with Mobility, Reinterpreting Tradition, and Evolving Identities
    (pp. 175-246)

    The focus of this book is the experience of transnational migration in its personal and humanistic aspects and in its various multicultural contexts. In the two previous chapters I recorded the reaction of migrants for higher education to prolonged exposure to two alien cultures (Greek and Pakistani), two different social systems, and radically different living circumstances. The students traveling the farthest, spending the longest periods of time abroad, and encountering the hardest cultural shocks were those to the United States. It was only in the United States that students were subject to continuous changes in numerous aspects of their lives:...

  13. 7 Fathers, Sons, Brothers, and the Village Community: Affirmation of the Moral Society in the Shadow of Its Decline
    (pp. 247-280)

    I have been describing the migration experience in terms of the pursuit of higher education, work, or army training, exploring, elaborating, and critiquing such concepts as assimilation, acculturation, and societal integration while introducing the concept of the reinterpretation of tradition as a significant process in coping with change. In analyzing the migration experience I have taken into account the effect of such diverse contexts as the societies of Saudi Arabia, Greece, Pakistan, and the United States.

    The intermingling of the voices of the informant and the investigator or, viewed in another way, of the indigenous native and the prying foreigner,...

  14. 8 Comparisons and Reflections on the Global Society
    (pp. 281-314)

    Having described and analyzed transnational migration in detail in one case study in Jordan, it is time to place this case study in a comparative perspective and reflect on its general significance. Transnational migration for work and higher education is part of a worldwide phenomenon whose complexity is just becoming understood along with its cultural and economic consequences in a variety of diverse fields such as music and industry! Anders Hammarlund, a producer at the music department of the Swedish Broadcasting Company conducting research on Turkish music in Sweden, at the behest of one of his Turkish friends, helped to...

  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 315-320)
  16. Index
    (pp. 321-325)