- From Arrival to Incorporation: Migrants to the U.S. in a Global Era, and: Letters across Borders: The Epistolary Practices of International Migrants
As immigration debates have heated and ebbed in varied political arenas, long-term global flows have been reduced to a few dimensions, specific groups, or time periods. In his concluding essay in From Arrival to Incorporation, the eminent historian Roger Waldzinger reminds us that any understanding of migration, cross-cultural communication, and integration demands attention to histories and processes. Within this perspective, these two diverse anthologies should prove useful for scholars and citizens in their commitment to interdisciplinary dialogue, synthesis of data with theory, and creative questions across fields that force us to consider wider implications of immigration, especially in the United States. While the editors diverge in foci—integration and communication through letters, respectively—both collections share a commitment to understanding the present through the past as well as raising new questions for the future. [End Page 284]
From Arrival to Incorporation examines many processes involved in settling into U.S. residence and citizenship, with a historical gaze galvanized by events of 9/11 and the role of the nation-state in separating peoples and shaping flows. It offers a mixture of theory, historical methods, quantitative approaches, ethnographies, and commentaries that allow readers to compare articles in useful ways and suggests their utility in multiple settings.
The diversity of migrants and state accommodations permeates the first broad section, beginning with work by David Haines on refugees and the definition of groups who may be admitted to the United States under this special status since World War II. Haines links the issues of moral commitment to data on resettlement and accommodation. The state again resonates in Karen Woodrow-Lafield's overview of the complex choices bridging arrival to citizenship in an article replete with quantitative data on changing patterns of naturalization, again with 9/11 in mind. By contrast, Barry Chiswick and Paul Miller use quantitative measures on ethnic goods and specialization to interpret correlations among lack of language adaptation, enclave space, and low wages. While provocative, this article would profit from further exploration of causes and meaning of ethnic specialization (some of which appear in later ethnographic pieces). Finally, distinguished historian Paul Spickard raises questions about race and religion and their intersections in Eurocentric immigration literature. As he argues, this reduces not only our understanding of race as an overarching feature of controlling boundaries and citizenships but channels readings of themes like religion into certain familiar categories, overlooking complexities of spirituality and worldview. He provides illuminating examples from Japanese and other Asian immigration experiences that reveal race and religion at the heart of history and policy.
The wide-ranging ethnographic case studies of the second section often expand well on these first essays. Anthropologist Caroline Brettell, for example, amplifies and humanizes the enclave hypotheses of Chiswick and Miller by her interesting work on immigrant entrepreneurs and networks of South Asians around Dallas. Barbara Posadas and Roland Guyotte show how gender, class, and personal decisions shape incorporation in a small network of Midwestern Filipino immigrants. Min Zhou and Xiyuan Li raise the issue of language maintenance and assimilation from the viewpoint of histories of Chinese schools, complicating the enclave as well as agency within immigrant communities. Timothy Meagher ends with an enjoyable piece on Italians in twentieth-century American popular culture. These essays localize and humanize processes of incorporation, although one wishes that the [End Page 285] presence of the state might have been clearer in some of this discussion as a unifying argument of the volume as a whole.
The final section brings the immigration debate back to 9/11...