The Nexus of Migrants’ Rights and Diaspora Activism

Mobilizing Ideas

By Sharon M. Quinsaat

Since the late twentieth century, the debate on transnationalism and assimilation has animated the field of migration studies. Empirical studies of first-generation Cubans, Dominicans, Mexicans, Salvadorans, and Vietnamese in the United States, among others, show that the politics of migrants are homeward looking and that the shift in modes of incorporation does not necessarily accompany a shift in concerns (Itzigsohn and Villacrés 2008; Ong and Meyer 2008; Smith 2006). On the other hand, the children of migrants may consider transnational political membership through the acquisition of dual nationality, but this may eventually fade away over subsequent generations (Bauböck 2003). Although participation in homeland politics is the exception rather than the rule, even among the migrant cohort, competing evidence has encouraged social scientists to develop theories that elaborate on the interactive relationship between transnationalism and assimilation and thus move the discourse…

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