Roots and Routes: Understanding the Lives of the Second Generation Transnationally
Abstract:While using a transnational optic to study first-generation immigrants is now widely accepted, most scholars assume that the same approach is not necessary when studying migrants' children. They claim that, while immigrants might be involved in the economic, political and religious life of their homelands, their children are unlikely to follow suit. In this paper I argue against summarily dismissing the power of being raised in a transnational social field. When children are brought up in households that are regularly influenced by people, objects, practices and know-how from their ancestral homes, they are socialised into its norms and values and they learn how to negotiate its institutions. They also form part of strong social networks. While not all members of the second generation will access these resources, they have the social skills and competencies to do so, if and when they choose. Capturing these dynamics, and tracking how they change over time, requires long-term ethnographic research in the source and destination countries.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: August 1, 2009