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Migrant Sites

America, Place, and Diaspora Literatures

Dalia Kandiyoti

Publication Year: 2009

In Migrant Sites, Dalia Kandiyoti presents a compelling corrective to the traditional immigrant and melting pot story. This original and wide-ranging study embraces Jewish, European, and Chicana/o and Puerto Rican literatures of migration and diasporization through the literary works of Abraham Cahan, Willa Cather, Estela Portillo Trambley, Sandra Cisneros, Piri Thomas, and Ernesto Quinonez. The author offers a transformed understanding of the ways in which the sense of place shapes migration imaginaries in U.S. writing. Place is a crucial category, one that along with race, class, and gender, has a profound impact in shaping migration and diaspora identities and storytelling. Migrant Sites highlights enclosure as a prominent sense of place and translocality as its counterpart in diaspora experiences created in fiction. Repositioning national literature as diaspora literature, the author shows that migrant legacies such as colonialism, empire, borders, containment, and enclosure are part of the American story and constitute the "diaspora sense of place."

Published by: Dartmouth College Press

Series: Reencounters with Colonialism: New Perspectives on the Americas


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Title Page, Copyright

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p. v

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pp. vii-viii

Almost all of the initial supporters of this book and many more assisted me through the long journey to the finish line. I received institutional support at the book’s earliest stage from New York University’s Graduate School of Arts and Science. I received support...

Part I: Place and Diaspora Literature

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pp. 1-45

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pp. 3-24

The idea of place figures large in American identities and fictions. The fantasy of open and expansive geographies (“the West,” the prairies, the deserts) and the magnetism of the metropolis (its scale, its promises, its possibilities) have informed the national imagination...

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1. Reformulating Diaspora Spatialities

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pp. 25-45

Diaspora stories are about the possibilities and the impossibilities of being in place. This chapter is a consideration of the ways in which spatial discourses in U.S. literature and in critical interdisciplinary approaches inform our thinking about diasporas. Lived and imagined...

Part II: Diasporizing Local Color and Regionalism

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pp. 47-118

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2. Crossing Delancey: Jewish Diaspora Locality and U.S. Literature

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pp. 49-80

“Boundaries, once conceptualized,” wrote the authors of Nations Unbound, a volume on the transnational aspects of immigration, “are given meaning and sentiment by those who reside within them. They acquire a life of their own” (Basch et al., 33). All designated sites...

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3. Pluralism in the Immigrant Prairie: Willa Cather's Civilized Primitives

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pp. 81-118

Having discovered “the world of ideas” through the classics, Willa Cather’s Jim Burden contemplates a passage from The Georgics in the third book of My Ántonia: “‘Primus ego in patriam mecum . . . deducam Musas’; for I shall be the first, if I live, to bring the Muse...

Part III: Writing Enclosure and Translocality in the Civil Rights Era and After

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4. "Cuando Lleguemos/When We Arrive": The Small Town and the Poetics of Chicana/o Place

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pp. 121-154

The title of this chapter, taken from one of the fragments that constitute Tomás Rivera’s . . . y no se lo tragó la tierra (1971), is emblematic of much of the fiction I discuss in this book. Most of the works that I analyze invoke the condition of a migrancy terminable...

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5. The Poetics of Aquí: Barriocentrism in Puerto Rican Diaspora Literature from Mean Streets to Neo-Noir

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pp. 155-195

Both Chicana/o and Puerto Rican diaspora literatures, marked by enclosures, conquests, and labor exploitation articulate the struggle for place in the United States through their engagement with dominant spatial representations of belonging as well as the spatial...

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pp. 197-203

The narratives of migration and diasporization that inspired this book are testaments to the myriad ways in which literature has imagined the seemingly contradictory operations of displacement and enclosure. The enclosures are effected through genre in local colorist, regionalist, and urban writing and through...


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pp. 205-214

Works Cited

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pp. 215-237


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pp. 239-248

E-ISBN-13: 9781584658795
E-ISBN-10: 1584658797
Print-ISBN-13: 9781584658054

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Reencounters with Colonialism: New Perspectives on the Americas
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OCLC Number: 667078223
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Migrant Sites

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • American fiction -- 20th century -- History and criticism.
  • Immigrants' writings, American -- History and criticism
  • Place (Philosophy) in literature.
  • Emigration and immigration in literature.
  • Immigrants in literature.
  • National characteristics, American, in literature.
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