front cover of Disenchanting Citizenship
Disenchanting Citizenship
Mexican Migrants and the Boundaries of Belonging
Luis F. B. Plascencia
Rutgers University Press, 2012
Central to contemporary debates in the United States on migration and migrant policy is the idea of citizenship, and—as apparent in the continued debate over Arizona’s immigration law SB 1070—this issue remains a focal point of contention, with a key concern being whether there should be a path to citizenship for “undocumented” migrants. In Disenchanting Citizenship, Luis F. B. Plascencia examines two interrelated issues: U.S. citizenship and the Mexican migrants’ position in the United States.  

The book explores the meaning of U.S. citizenship through the experience of a unique group of Mexican migrants who were granted Temporary Status under the “legalization” provisions of the 1986 IRCA, attained Lawful Permanent Residency, and later became U.S. citizens. Plascencia integrates an extensive and multifaceted collection of interviews, ethnographic fieldwork, ethno-historical research, and public policy analysis in examining efforts that promote the acquisition of citizenship, the teaching of citizenship classes, and naturalization ceremonies. Ultimately, he unearths citizenship’s root as a Janus-faced construct that encompasses a simultaneous process of inclusion and exclusion. This notion of citizenship is mapped on to the migrant experience, arguing that the acquisition of citizenship can lead to disenchantment with the very status desired. In the end, Plascencia expands our understanding of the dynamics of U.S. citizenship as a form of membership and belonging.

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Displacements and Diasporas
Asians in the Americas
Anderson, Wanni W.
Rutgers University Press, 2005
Asians have settled in every country in the Western Hemisphere; some are recent arrivals, other descendents of immigrants who arrived centuries ago. Bringing together essays by thirteen scholars from the humanities and social sciences, Displacements and Diasporas explores this genuinely transnational Asian American experience-one that crosses the Pacific and traverses the Americas from Canada to Brazil, from New York to the Caribbean.

With an emphasis on anthropological and historical contexts, the essays show how the experiences of Asians across the Americas have been shaped by the social dynamics and politics of settlement locations as much as by transnational connections and the economic forces of globalization. Contributors bring new insights to the unique situations of Asian communities previously overlooked by scholars, such as Vietnamese Canadians and the Lao living in Rhode Island. Other topics include Chinese laborers and merchants in Latin America and the Caribbean, Japanese immigrants and their descendants in Brazil, Afro-Amerasians in America, and the politics of second-generation Indian American youth culture.

Together the essays provide a valuable comparative portrait of Asians across the Americas. Engaging issues of diaspora, transnational social practice and community building, gender, identity, institutionalized racism, and deterritoriality, this volume presents fresh perspectives on displacement, opening the topic up to a wider, more interdisciplinary terrain of inquiry and teaching.

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Dreaming a Paradise
Migrations and the Story of Buland Masjid
Chitvan Gill
Seagull Books, 2023
The story of the people of Buland Masjid, a community of migrants in Delhi.

In Dreaming a Paradise, Chitvan Gill draws on years of research and photographic reportage to unveil the tales of individuals driven to escape poverty, violence, and despair in search of happiness and a place to call home. At the heart of this book lies Buland Masjid, an unauthorized colony on the Yamuna riverbank in Delhi, India, which thrives with restless industry even under the unyielding grip of poverty. The women and men of this colony recycle scrap, repair machines, manufacture clothes, run schools, and sell delicious food, breathing new energy into a once-desolate economy. However, beneath the surface lies a tale of urban planning gone awry, reflecting the comprehensive failure of those in power. Delving into the lives of those cast aside and walled off from India’s vast wealth, this book highlights the huge divide between modern India’s haves and have-nots, and the inherent contradictions in a nation grappling with its identity.

In a compelling exploration of humanity’s journey, Dreaming a Paradise reveals the triumphs, tragedies, hopes, and hardships of resilient souls seeking their own patch of heaven amidst chaos. From the eternal cycles of loss and discovery, we witness the formation of civilizations and the timeless yearning that defines the human condition.
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The Duplex Nature of Indigeneity
Navigating Identity in the Ahuehuepan Diaspora
Frans J. Schryer
University Press of Colorado, 2024
The Duplex Nature of Indigeneity is a detailed ethnography centered around Ahuehuepan, a Mexican town in the Alto Balsas region of the state of Guerrero, where an exodus of more than half the population to the United States and other parts of Mexico has altered both livelihoods and social identities. Frans Schryer traces the people, including families and descendants, who locate their identity in the Alto Balsas, a place some of them may never have seen.
 
Using a variety of sources, perspectives, and methods, Schryer takes a duplexity approach, which allows understanding the complexity of social reality and its complementary nature—it identifies fields, clusters, and layers as interconnected components of social life. The innovative methods consist of the combination of ethnographic description and an ethnohistorical census that provides information on every person going back to approximately 1850. That census is further examined with the use of inferential and non-inferential statistical techniques, archival research in locations not normally accessible to scholars, Facebook, phone interviews conducted over several years, and help from Nahuatl-speaking people whose perspectives on the findings generate additional information and insights.
 
Unique in this presentation, which dips into the lives of generations of people to draw insight on those who lay claim to transnational Indigeneity, Schryer’s work contributes to research and theoretical discussion in the field of migration and globalization studies through a close examination of one Indigenous community over the course of many years, utilizing a mix of qualitative and quantitative research methods in anthropology.
 
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