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Creolizing the Metropole

Migrant Caribbean Identities in Literature and Film

H. Adlai Murdoch

Creolizing the Metropole is a comparative study of postwar West Indian migration to the former colonial capitals of Paris and London. It studies the effects of this population shift on national and cultural identity and traces the postcolonial Caribbean experience through analyses of the concepts of identity and diaspora. Through close readings of selected literary works and film, H. Adlai Murdoch explores the ways in which these immigrants and their descendants represented their metropolitan identities. Though British immigrants were colonial subjects and, later, residents of British Commonwealth nations, and the French arrivals from the overseas departments were citizens of France by law, both groups became subject to otherness and exclusion stemming from their ethnicities. Murdoch examines this phenomenon and the questions it raises about borders and boundaries, nationality and belonging.

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Crossing the Border

Research from the Mexican Migration Project

Discussion of Mexican migration to the United States is often infused with ideological rhetoric, untested theories, and few facts. In Crossing the Border, editors Jorge Durand and Douglas Massey bring the clarity of scientific analysis to this hotly contested but under-researched topic. Leading immigration scholars use data from the Mexican Migration Project—the largest, most comprehensive, and reliable source of data on Mexican immigrants currently available—to answer such important questions as: Who are the people that migrate to the United States from Mexico? Why do they come? How effective is U.S. migration policy in meeting its objectives? Crossing the Border dispels two primary myths about Mexican migration: First, that those who come to the United States are predominantly impoverished and intend to settle here permanently, and second, that the only way to keep them out is with stricter border enforcement. Nadia Flores, Rubén Hernández-León, and Douglas Massey show that Mexican migrants are generally not destitute but in fact cross the border because the higher comparative wages in the United States help them to finance homes back in Mexico, where limited credit opportunities makes it difficult for them to purchase housing. William Kandel’s chapter on immigrant agricultural workers debunks the myth that these laborers are part of a shadowy, underground population that sponges off of social services. In contrast, he finds that most Mexican agricultural workers in the United States are paid by check and not under the table. These workers pay their fair share in U.S. taxes and—despite high rates of eligibility—they rarely utilize welfare programs. Research from the project also indicates that heightened border surveillance is an ineffective strategy to reduce the immigrant population. Pia Orrenius demonstrates that strict barriers at popular border crossings have not kept migrants from entering the United States, but rather have prompted them to seek out other crossing points. Belinda Reyes uses statistical models and qualitative interviews to show that the militarization of the Mexican border has actually kept immigrants who want to return to Mexico from doing so by making them fear that if they leave they will not be able to get back into the United States. By replacing anecdotal and speculative evidence with concrete data, Crossing the Border paints a picture of Mexican immigration to the United States that defies the common knowledge. It portrays a group of committed workers, doing what they can to realize the dream of home ownership in the absence of financing opportunities, and a broken immigration system that tries to keep migrants out of this country, but instead has kept them from leaving.

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Crossing with the Virgin

Stories from the Migrant Trail

Kathryn Ferguson

Over the past ten years, more than 4,000 people have died while crossing the Arizona desert to find jobs, join families, or start new lives. Other migrants tell of the corpses they pass—bodies that are never recovered or counted.

Crossing With the Virgin collects stories heard from migrants about these treacherous treks—firsthand accounts told to volunteers for the Samaritans, a humanitarian group that seeks to prevent such unnecessary deaths by providing these travelers with medical aid, water, and food. Other books have dealt with border crossing; this is the first to share stories of immigrant suffering at its worst told by migrants encountered on desert trails.

The Samaritans write about their encounters to show what takes place on a daily basis along the border: confrontations with Border Patrol agents at checkpoints reminiscent of wartime; children who die in their parents’ desperate bid to reunite families; migrants terrorized by bandits; and hovering ghost-like above nearly every crossing, the ever-present threat of death.

These thirty-nine stories are about the migrants, but they also tell how each individual author became involved with this work. As such, they offer not only a window into the migrants’ plight but also a look at the challenges faced by volunteers in sometimes compromising situations—and at their own humanizing process.

Crossing With the Virgin raises important questions about underlying assumptions and basic operations of border enforcement, helping readers see past political positions to view migrants as human beings. It will touch your heart as surely as it reassures you that there are people who still care about their fellow man.

Listen to readings by the authors <a href="http://bit.ly/bj3kwK">here.

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The Cultural Politics of U.S. Immigration

Gender, Race, and Media

Leah Perry

In the 1980s, amid increasing immigration from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia, the circle of who was considered American seemed to broaden, reflecting the democratic gains made by racial minorities and women. Although this expanded circle was increasingly visible in the daily lives of Americans through TV shows, films, and popular news media, these gains were circumscribed by the discourse that certain immigrants, for instance single and working mothers, were feared, censured, or welcomed exclusively as laborers.               

In The Cultural Politics of U.S. Immigration, Leah Perry argues that 1980s immigration discourse in law and popular media was a crucial ingredient in the cohesion of the neoliberal idea of democracy. Blending critical legal analysis with a feminist media studies methodology over a range of sources, including legal documents, congressional debates, and popular media, such as Golden Girls, Who’s the Boss?, Scarface, and Mi Vida Loca, Perry shows how even while “multicultural” immigrants were embraced, they were at the same time disciplined through gendered discourses of respectability. Examining the relationship between law and culture, this book weaves questions of legal status and gender into existing discussions about race and ethnicity to revise our understanding of both neoliberalism and immigration.

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Cultures of Migration

The Global Nature of Contemporary Mobility

By Jeffrey H. Cohen and Ibrahim Sirkeci

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Danes and Icelanders in Michigan

Immigration of Danes and Icelanders to Michigan began in the 1850s and continued well into the twentieth century. Beginning with their origins, this book takes a detailed look at their arrival and settlement in Michigan, answering some key questions: What brought Danes and Icelanders to Michigan? What challenges did they face? How did they adjust and survive here? Where did they settle? What kind of lasting impact have they had on Michigan’s economic and cultural landscape? Extensively researched, this book examines the public and private lives of Danish and Icelandic immigrants in Michigan, drawing from both individual and institutional histories. Shedding new light on the livelihood, traditions, religion, social life, civic organizations, and mutual benefit societies, this thorough, insightful book highlights a small but important population within Michigan’s borders.

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Daughters and Granddaughters of Farmworkers

Emerging from the Long Shadow of Farm Labor

Barbara Wells

In Daughters and Granddaughters of Farmworkers, Barbara Wells examines the work and family lives of Mexican American women in a community near the U.S.-Mexican border in California’s Imperial County. Decades earlier, their Mexican parents and grandparents had made the momentous decision to migrate to the United States as farmworkers. This book explores how that decision has worked out for these second- and third-generation Mexican Americans.Wells provides stories of the struggles, triumphs, and everyday experiences of these women. She analyzes their narratives on a broad canvas that includes the social structures that create the barriers, constraints, and opportunities that have shaped their lives. The women have constructed far more settled lives than the immigrant generation that followed the crops, but many struggle to provide adequately for their families.These women aspire to achieve the middle-class lives of the American Dream. But upward mobility is an elusive goal. The realities of life in a rural, agricultural border community strictly limit social mobility for these descendants of immigrant farm laborers. Reliance on family networks is a vital strategy for meeting the economic challenges they encounter. Wells illustrates clearly the ways in which the “long shadow” of farm work continues to permeate the lives and prospects of these women and their families.

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De levenskracht der bevolking

Sociale en demografische kwesties in de Lage Landen tijdens het interbellum

Jan Kok, Jan Van Bavel (eds)

De periode tussen de Eerste en de Tweede Wereldoorlog heeft in de Lage Landen tot nog toe weinig aandacht gekregen. Het leek een niemandsperiode, een verminkt tijdsgewricht, dat letterlijk en figuurlijk weggedrukt werd door de oorlogen. Ten onrechte, zo blijkt uit De levenskracht der bevolking. Het interbellum was een dynamisch sociaal laboratorium en kende intense maatschappelijke spanningen. De moderniteit was op kruissnelheid gekomen en riep tegengestelde reacties op, gaande van radicale omarming tot reactionaire verwerping. Politieke democratisering botste op antidemocratische reacties en nieuwerwetse tendensen in het huwelijks- en gezinsleven lokten antimoderne kritiek uit. In de westerse wereld woedde een debat over ‘de bevolkingskwestie'. Een aantal demografische evoluties werd in brede kringen gelezen als een teken dat het met de westerse cultuur de verkeerde kant uitging en dat een aantal waarden en normen dreigde verloren te gaan. In dit boek nemen Nederlandse en Vlaamse historici, sociologen, economen en demografen een reeks thema's onder de loep rond ‘volk', huwelijk en gezin, leven en dood tijdens het interbellum. Ze doen dit vanuit actuele invalshoeken en met verrassende bronnen en originele methoden. De belangrijkste thema's uit die tijd staan ook vandaag (opnieuw) op de maatschappelijke agenda: lage vruchtbaarheid, vergrijzing en internationale migratie.

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Debating American Identity

Southwestern Statehood and Mexican Immigration

Linda C. Noel

In the early 1900s, Teddy Roosevelt, New Mexico governors Miguel Antonio Otero and Octaviano Larrazolo, and Arizona legislator Carl Hayden—along with the voices of less well-known American women and men—promoted very different views on what being an American meant. Their writings and speeches contributed to definitions of American national identity during a tumultuous and dynamic era. At stake in these heated debates was the very meaning of what constituted an American, the political boundaries for the United States, and the legitimacy of cultural diversity in modern America.
    In Debating American Identity, Linda C. Noel examines several nation-defining events—the proposed statehood of Arizona and New Mexico, the creation of a temporary worker program during the First World War, immigration restriction in the 1920s, and the repatriation of immigrants in the early 1930s. Noel uncovers the differing ways in which Americans argued about how newcomers could fit within the nation-state, in terms of assimilation, pluralism, or marginalization, and the significance of class status, race, and culture in determining American identity.
    Noel shows not only how the definition of American was contested, but also how the economic and political power of people of Mexican descent, their desire to incorporate as Americans or not, and the demand for their territory or labor by other Americans played an important part in shaping decisions about statehood and national immigration policies. Debating American Identity skillfully shows how early twentieth century debates over statehood influenced later ones concerning immigration; in doing so, it resonates with current discussions, resulting in a well-timed look at twentieth century citizenship.

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Deflecting Immigration

Networks, Markets, and Regulation in Los Angeles

As international travel became cheaper and national economies grew more connected over the past thirty years, millions of people from the Third World emigrated to richer countries. A tenth of the population of Mexico relocated to the United States between 1980 and 2000. Globalization theorists claimed that reception cities could do nothing about this trend, since nations make immigration policy, not cities. In Deflecting Immigration, sociologist Ivan Light shows how Los Angeles reduced the sustained, high-volume influx of poor Latinos who settled there by deflecting a portion of the migration to other cities in the United States. In this manner, Los Angeles tamed globalization’s local impact, and helped to nationalize what had been a regional immigration issue. Los Angeles deflected immigration elsewhere in two ways. First, the protracted network-driven settlement of Mexicans naturally drove up rents in Mexican neighborhoods while reducing immigrants’ wages, rendering Los Angeles a less attractive place to settle. Second, as migration outstripped the city’s capacity to absorb newcomers, Los Angeles gradually became poverty-intolerant. By enforcing existing industrial, occupational, and housing ordinances, Los Angeles shut down some unwanted sweatshops and reduced slums. Their loss reduced the metropolitan region’s accessibility to poor immigrants without reducing its attractiveness to wealthier immigrants. Additionally, ordinances mandating that homes be built on minimum-sized plots of land with attached garages made home ownership in L.A.’s suburbs unaffordable for poor immigrants and prevented low-cost rental housing from being built. Local rules concerning home occupancy and yard maintenance also prevented poor immigrants from crowding together to share housing costs. Unable to find affordable housing or low-wage jobs, approximately one million Latinos were deflected from Los Angeles between 1980 and 2000. The realities of a new global economy are still unfolding, with uncertain consequences for the future of advanced societies, but mass migration from the Third World is unlikely to stop in the next generation. Deflecting Immigration offers a shrewd analysis of how America’s largest immigrant destination independently managed the challenges posed by millions of poor immigrants and, in the process, helped focus attention on immigration as an issue of national importance.

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