Migration and cultures

Authored by: Yến Lê Espiritu

Routledge Handbook of Cultural Sociology

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138288621
eBook ISBN: 9781315267784
Adobe ISBN:


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The dominant theories in the field of US immigration studies – theories of assimilation, amalgamation, the “melting pot,” and cultural pluralism – have been greatly influenced by the historical production of immigrants as bearers of cultural difference. These immigration theories focus on the degrees of transformations of ethnic consciousness – that is, how much individuals or communities assimilate into American life or retain their community-of-origin ties. This chapter argues that the focus on immigrants’ cultural integration assesses the assimilability of immigrants but leaves uninterrogated the racialized and gendered foundations of the United States, particularly the connection between US foreign interventions and migration to the United States. Challenging the authority and authenticity of the term “cultural identity,” this chapter argues that culture – or more precisely, culture-making – is a social, historical, and transnational process that exposes multiple and interrelated forms of power relations and that articulates new forms of immigrant subjectivity, collectivity, and practice.

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