Browsing by Author "Collins-Cona, Minna-Liisa"

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  • Collins-Cona, Minna-Liisa (2012)
    The word transnationalism characterizes contemporary research on migration. Instead of approaching migration as a process involving a permanent break with one’s home society, transnationalism offers a new perspective to migration that allows studying migrants’ connections to both home and host societies. Prior research on migrant transnationalism has emphasized the economic and political aspects, leaving sociocultural aspects for less attention. This study looks at transnationalism in ordinary migrants’ lives and how migrants themselves experience and understand it, as told in their life stories. The purpose of the study is fourfold: to examine the forms transnationalism takes in the migrant participants lives; to study the transnational practices migrants engage into; to reveal the most important social groups and arenas where these practices are carried out and finally; to analyse whether these practices take place in local or global contexts. The thesis is based on qualitative research data. Both narrative interviews and participant observation were used as methods for this research. However, the primary source of data consists of 10 narrative interviews collected from migrants of Mexican, South-and Central American origins. The interviews were conducted in Los Angeles during May 2011. Inductive, data-derived approach was used to find the central concepts and themes used in this research. As a sharp contrast to the main body of literature on transnationalism, the political and economic aspects of migrant transnationalism turned out not to be important in this study. Transportation and communication technologies are regularly and effectively used to connect migrants with their distant family and friends. However, what received most attention in this study was the role of family and symbolic practices among migrants. With the variety of symbolic practices, such as cooking and eating traditional food from home country, listening and playing traditional Latin American music, wearing clothes representing one’s origins, and home decoration, migrants construct and maintain important notions of home and belongingness. The symbolic practices are important in terms of migrants’ identity development as well. The transnational community, which in this study includes both migrants’ ethnic community and family, offers the most important context for the expression of transnational membership. The transnational perspective offers a valuable approach to the study of international migration. As the results of this study reveal, despite migrants physical presence in the United States, migrants’ countries of origin continue to play significant role in their lives. Migrants in this study lead happy lives in the United States. In their narratives, they articulate gratitude to the United States and the new opportunities migrating there has offered for both themselves and their families. Despite this, in many respects migrants’ orientation is strongly towards the home society.