The Declining Use of the Mixtec Language Among Oaxacan Migrants and Stay-at-Homes: The Persistence of Memory, Discrimination, and Social Hierarchies of Power (Working Paper #180)

Elizabeth Perry, University of California, San Diego

Abstract: Drawing on binational ethnographic research regarding Mixtec “social memory” of language discrimination and Mixtec perspectives on recent efforts to preserve and revitalize indigenous language use, this study suggests that language discrimination, in both its overt and increasingly concealed forms, has significantly curtailed the use of the Mixtec language. For centuries, the Spanish and Spanish-speaking mestizo (mixed blood) elite oppressed the  Mixtec People and their linguistic and cultural practices. These oppressive practices were experienced in Mixtec communities and surrounding urban areas, as well as in domestic and international migrant destinations. In the 1980s, a significant transition occurred in Mexico from indigenismo to a neoliberal multicultural framework. In this transition, discriminatory practices have become increasingly “symbolic,” referring to their assertion in  everyday social practices rather than through overt force, obscuring both the perpetrator and the illegitimacy of resulting social hierarchies (Bourdieu, 1991). Through the use of symbolic violence, the dominant class cleans its hands and history of discriminatory practices based on race, ethnic, or cultural “difference,” while at the same time justifying increasing inequality on the outcome of “unbiased” market forces. Continuing to experience and perceive discrimination, many Mixtec language speakers are employing silence as a social strategy, in which Mixtecs forgo using, teaching, and learning the Mixtec language in order to create distance between themselves (or children) and stigmatized practices, such as indigenous language use. The use of silence as a strategy does not signify that Mixtecs devalue or find no meaning in the Mixtec language. Rather, it suggests that silence is perceived to be an available and increasingly attractive social strategy in contemporary contexts.

Working Paper #180 »

Living Islam in Non-Muslim Spaces: How Religiosity of Muslim Immigrant Women Affect Their Cultural and Civic Integration in Western Host Societies (Working Paper #179)

Saba Senses Ozyurt, University of California, Irvine

Abstract: Research on Muslim immigrants in Europe show that they often remain separated andmarginalized within their respective societies. Empirical research further indicates that Muslim immigrant women in Europe perform more poorly than Muslim immigrant men and Christian immigrant women on key indicators of integration. In this paper I explore whether identifying as ‘Muslim’ and/or having strong religious beliefs and practices slows down the cultural and civic/political integration processes for Muslim immigrant women in the United States. The findings indicate that high levels of religiosity may indeed slow down the cultural integration of Muslim women in the U.S., however in terms of their political and civic integration, religiosity can be a facilitating factor.

Working Paper #179

Anti-immigrant Sentiment and Welfare State Regimes in Europe (Working Paper #178)

Xavier Escandell, University of Northern Iowa

Alin M. Ceobanu, University of Florida

Abstract: This paper examines whether the stand-alone and cross-level interactive effects of individual and contextual predicting variables of anti-immigrant sentiment vary as a function of institutional differences in welfare regimes. Using data from the 2003 ISSP module, several direct and indirect measures tapping welfare state systems were created to assess the disparities in anti-immigrant sentiment across 22 Western and Eastern European countries. Results from the hierarchical multilevel models show that the mean levels of anti-immigrant sentiment are lower in those countries with high levels of public spending in social protection programs. The findings further indicate that an individual’s labor force status (being unemployed), nativism and conservatism political stance become even stronger predictors of anti-immigrant sentiment in countries with more robust welfare state systems. Moreover, the differences in the mean level of anti-immigrant sentiment between the two parts of the continent stay significant even after multiple controls at the micro and macro-levels. The implications of these findings are discussed from the perspective of the ethnic economic competition model, as well as by taking into account the converging trend in immigration policy among the member states of the European Union in recent years.

Working Paper #178

Globalización, inmigración y género: Vivencias laborales y de género de mexicanos en EE.UU. y Marroquíes en España (Working Paper #177)

Kathryn Kopinak, University of Western Ontario (Canada)
Rosa M. Soriano Miras, Universidad de Granada (Spain)

Abstract: Economic globalization has brought the movement of people and increasing transnational connections among them which may best be studied from a comparative perspective. The research presented here focuses on two comparable phases of labor migration. Firstly, the impact of both previous work experience in Mexico and gender differences are evaluated for labor migration to the United States. The second phase of the project, in which we are currently immersed, attempts to compare the Mexico – US migratory process with that from Morocco to Spain. Previous work experience in country of origin is dichotomized into maquiladora and non-maquiladora employment. The methodology used is Grounded Theory, a technique used to collect data via in depth interviews. The results indicate that at the western tip of the US-Mexico border where maquiladoras comprise the largest economic base, an export platform has been formed which facilitates the movement of both goods and people across the border. Mexicans in the border area, where most maquilas are located, can get documents more easily and also acquire skills important for getting jobs in the United States. Simultaneously, social networks form which also facilitate migration. The recent installation of export industries in Morocco invites an examination of the similarities and differences in both migratory contexts.

Working Paper #177

Trapped at the Bottom: Racialized and Gendered Labor Queues in New Immigrant Destinations (Working Paper #176)

Laura López-Sanders, Stanford University

Abstract: While many studies document employer preference for Latino immigrants over African Americans, few studies provide evidence on how this preference translates into changes in the ethnic composition of the labor force. This paper addresses the mechanisms that account for these changes and their effects on race and ethnic relations. Using unique ethnographic data collected in new immigrant destinations, I show how the ethnic composition of a large industrial manufacturing firm changed from being almost exclusively black and white, to becoming forty percent Latino in many departments over the course of one year. Racial dynamics along with
selection mechanisms, namely “labor queues” (employers’ ranking of workers) and “job queues” (workers’ ranking of jobs), are central in explaining ethnic replacement processes. Labor queues are influenced by racial preferences and the tenuous legal status of many Latino immigrant workers; job queues, on the other hand, are influenced by the interplay of race, gender and the alternatives available to workers. These dynamics carry important consequences. When workers ranked at the bottom of the labor queue face replacement pressure, they protect their positions by antagonizing their would-be replacements. This strategy protects their jobs by providing incentives for their replacements to leave for better jobs. Ironically, this successful strategy results in a stable labor queue where workers ranked at the bottom trap themselves in jobs at the bottom of the job queue.

Working Paper 176 >>

The Role of Ethnic Politics in U.S. Immigration and Refugee Policy: the Case of Soviet Jewry (Working Paper #175)

Fred A. Lazin, Ben Gurion University, Beer Sheva, Israel

Introduction: This paper examines the exercise of power by American Jews in American politics. It does so through an examination of the influence of the Soviet Jewry advocacy movement on United States refugee policies during the 1970s and 1980s. The movement consisted mostly of American Jewish organizations and individuals and operatives of an Israeli government agency, the Liaison Bureau.

Work Paper #175

Stability in a New Destination: Mexican Immigrants in Clark County, Ohio (Working Paper #174)

David Keyes, University of California, San Diego

Abstract: Starting in the 1990s, immigrants began to settle throughout the United States, often moving to new destinations far from the traditional receiving communities. This paper is a case study of Clark County, Ohio, which has seen its immigrant population grow rapidly in the past two decades, with many of these newcomers coming from the small town of El Saúz de Abajo in the state of Michoacán. Many in this group express a strong sense of stability in their lives in this new destination and I ask what people mean when they express this sentiment. This paper argues that the sense of stability people express is complex and that it can only be understood relative to their past experiences.

Work Paper #174

Rescaling the “Alien,” Rescaling Personhood: Neoliberalism, Immigration, and the State (Working Paper #173)

Monica W. Varsanyi, John Jay Collage, City University of New York

Abstract: Through an exploration of relevant legislation and court cases, this article discusses the contemporary constitution of neoliberal subjects via the devolution of select immigration powers to state and local governments by the federal government of the United States. Since the latter decades of the nineteenth century, the federal government has had plenary power over immigration, which has enabled it to treat “people as immigrants” (or as “nonpersons” falling outside of many Constitutional protections), simultaneously requiring that states and cities treat “immigrants as people” (or as persons protected by the Constitution). Beginning in the mid-1990s, however, the devolution of welfare policy and immigration policing powers has challenged the scalar constitution of personhood, as state and local governments have newfound powers to discriminate on the basis of alienage, or noncitizen status. In devolving responsibility for certain immigration-related policies to state and local governments, the federal government is participating in the rescaling of membership policy and, by extension, the rescaling of a defining characteristic of the nation-state. This recent rescaling is evidence of the contemporary neoliberalization of membership policy in the United States, and specifically highlights the legal (re)production of scale. Key Words: citizenship, immigration, neoliberalism, scale.

Work Paper #173

Diminished or Revitalized Tradition of Return? Transnational Migration in Bolivia’s Valle Alto (working paper #172)

Richard Jones, University of Texas, San Antonio
Leonardo de la Torre, Universidad Católica, Cochabamba (Bolivia)

Abstract: Female relatives were chatting in Don Orlando and Doña Alicia’s home in Arlington, Virginia. They had recently arrived from Santa Rosa, a village in the Valle Alto area (close to the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia). One of them approached to show us the baby she carried as a small treasure in her arms. We asked if she had brought it from Bolivia. “No,” she told us, “this one was born in the United States.” Later, at supper, Don Orlando, who divided 25 years of his life between Arbieto (his hometown in the Valle Alto) and Argentina before settling in the United States in the late 1980s, remarked that he would return to the Valley to retire and plant peaches. His wife Alicia, dressed in an elegant Bolivian skirt (which provokes tears of nostalgia among the Cochabambinos who see her at the supermarket), said that she supports him because she can’t imagine growing old in the United States. However, her daughters-in-law—wives of her three older sons as well as prosperous construction workers in Virginia—laughed at the naiveté of this plan. They said they would like to return just as much, although the most likely scenario is that they would have to stay in the United States permanently.

Work Paper #172

Integration and Differential Fertility in Latin American Women in Spain and the United States (Working Paper #171)

Xiana Bueno García, Autonomous University of Barcelona
Daniel Vono de Vilhena, Autonomous University of Barcelona

Abstract: The main goal of this study is to analyze the reproductive patterns of Latin American-born women residing in the two principal receiving countries of their migrant collective: the United States and Spain. The study was carried out by examining the existing literature and by analyzing the main indicators of fertility. We compared these indicators with those of the native population and between the collectives of each receiving country. In each case the findings show differences in the patterns with regard to intensity and timing, with only partial convergence of migrants’ reproductive patterns to those of the local population.

Work Paper #171