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Reviewed by:
  • Ecuadorians in Madrid: Migrants’ Place in Urban History by Araceli Masterson-Algar
  • Randal P. Garza
Araceli Masterson-Algar. Ecuadorians in Madrid: Migrants’ Place in Urban History. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. 287pp. ISBN 978-1-137-53606-8. $109.

To give a proper review of this manuscript, it would be remiss to say that this work is written for a specific audience just as the title suggests. That said, this is a very solid piece of scholarship. It includes copious illustrations, all easily accessed at the beginning of the book, along with a wonderful [End Page 243] introduction as to what motivated this author to even begin a study on why this topic is of import. From the first lines, it is apparent. It is certainly personal. As the author states: “I was living in Madrid with a family from Quito, who managed a bakery in that neighborhood. Although I did not give the event much thought at the time, its memory marked the beginning of the research that led to this book” (1).

To this reader, the thesis is rather muddled. It is stated in a number of ways but the most succinct one is as follows: “The specific aim of this book is to show how Ecuadorian migrants are subjects in the making of Madrid, extending their transnational networks to Quito, Ecuador through their lives in the locally grounded and historically specific places of Madrid, Europe’s Ecuadorian capital” (2). This seems a rather superficial interpretation, as Madrid existed for centuries before the years addressed by this manuscript, specifically the early twenty-first century. While subsequent arguments are made about Madrid’s subway, the lakes and lagoons in Madrid’s parks, the planning of Madrid’s nightlife, and even the international airport, this is a spurious argument attributed to the influx of migrants from Ecuador. Certainly, due diligence is given to mention the economic state of Europe but this is given almost as an aside. The Euro was trading above the USD in the year 2002 but fell drastically in more recent years, forcing Greece and Spain into near bankruptcy. This point alone goes against the purported thesis (theses) of the manuscript in general.

There is an afterword to this book that cites an internal note of migrant detentions in the police district of Vallecas dated February 15, 2009. In it, data are provided on fixed quotas of migrant detentions per week. Admittedly, the focus of these “migrant detentions” is on “Moroccans,” as they are easier and less costly to control than their Latin American counterparts. However, this would not take into account a larger agenda with regard to all forms of immigration. Once again, the author personalizes it back to the introduction as to the inspiration for the book, but the neighborhood of Vallecas has long been known to be one of the most common areas in terms of “flux”—be they Moors, Jews, Ecuadorians. As the author states: “I began most of the research for this book on December 2007, with no awareness of the economic meltdown in the works” (204). Spain, in that year, was in an “economic meltdown” and anyone who lived there for an extended period of time or opened the Internet (or Wall Street Journal) could tell you.

The appendix covers a range of statistical data on many subjects: (1) Occupation and gender; (2) Area of residency; (3) Change of residency and gender; (4) Area of work; (5) Area of work and gender; (6) Preference for alternative city of residency; (7) Areas for improvement in Madrid; (8) Areas for improvement in Madrid and gender; (9) Preferred aspect about Madrid; (10) Preferred aspect about Madrid and gender; (11) Favorite location in Madrid; (12) Favorite location in Madrid and gender; (13) Location of preference to take a visitor; (14) Location of preference to take a visitor and [End Page 244] gender; (15) Familiarity with Madrid prior to arrival; (16) Imagination/experience of Madrid and gender; (17) Preferred location to spend free time and gender; (18) Locations of police raids; (19) Means of transportation to get to work; (20) Means of transportation to get to work and gender; (21) Frequency of Metro usage...


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pp. 243-245
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