- From Urban Enclave to Ethnic Suburb: New Asian Communities in Pacific Rim Countries
Studies of immigrant settlement and ethnic landscapes in North American suburbs have become increasingly prominent in the scholarly literature in recent years. As new immigrants continue to settle in the outer city instead of in more traditional inner-city immigrant gateways as in the past, analyses of the settlement and survival of America's foreign-born population in suburban areas continue to emerge in both the scholarly literature and popular press. However, to date, the bulk of existing research on this topic is limited to work on suburban immigrant patterns in North American cities. Little has been said about places located outside the United States and Canada. From Ethnic Enclave to Ethnic Suburb helps fill this gap in the published literature by documenting the comparative experiences of immigrant settlement and urban transformation in U.S. cities as well as metropolitan areas located in three other Pacific Rim countries. As such, Li's critically important book serves as both a relevant precursor and expansion to more recent work by Singer, Hardwick, and Brettell that focused attention only on suburban immigration in emerging U.S. gateway cities (with little mention of related patterns and processes now under way in other parts of the world).1
In Wei Li's comprehensive and ambitious book, the editor's introduction provides a solid underpinning of the seminal empirical and theoretical work that inspired and guided her work on this volume. Drawing on more traditional studies of immigrant enclaves and neighborhoods accomplished by scholars in a variety of disciplines, such as Park and Miller, Zhou, and Lin, Li overlays more [End Page 110] recent work on the global economy, shifting immigrant and refugee policies in different parts of the world, and the lives and impacts of transnational migrants to stake her claim in this and subsequent chapters in From Ethnic Enclave to Ethnic Suburb.2 Throughout, the primary argument guiding each chapter is that immigrant and refugee populations in today's global cities more often choose to settle in the suburbs rather than in more traditional downtown neighborhoods. Here, their transformation of suburban space is occurring at an unprecedented rate in metropolitan areas around the Pacific Rim.
Of particular note in the introduction to the book is the editor's discussion of the relationships that continue to emerge between the global economy and transnational migrants. Building on the work of early scholars of transnationalism and globalization such as Glick Schiller, Basch, and Blanc-Szanton, and Sassen, Li makes her case that not only have global cities become the nexus of flexible capital accumulation, but they have also emerged as the site of increasingly globalizing flows of transnational migrants.3
Each of the nine case study chapters on Pacific Rim cities that follow this rich introduction are comparative studies of immigrant transformation in metropolitan places such as suburban Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Toronto, and Aukland. The suburban patterns and ethnic landscapes in each of these cities provide evidence of the editor's related claims. In the first chapter on suburban Washington, D.C., for example, Wood's findings on the impacts of the region's Vietnamese population on commercial space and place located "outside the Beltway" provide data about some of the economic, cultural, and social processes shaping this particular suburb as they relate to the changing ethnic landscapes emerging in suburbs located elsewhere in the world. In the following chapter, authors Smith and Logan expand on Wood's discourse on the experiences and impacts of Vietnamese immigrants in the United States with their observations about the overall Asian experience in suburban New York City.
Following these two chapters on the Asian suburban experience, Li expands the spatial dimensions of the book to include the U.S. West Coast. Here, she delves more deeply into the economic, political, and social processes that have taken place in outer Los Angeles in the...