Financial Biographies, Volume 1

By Kim Wilson et al. This collection of financial biographies traces the ways in which extra-continental refugees and migrants finance their journeys and manage money along the way. It also highlights the importance of friendships, both old and new, in making a journey possible. Additionally, communication tools like mobile phones, WhatsApp, or Google Translate leverage friendships and kinships to help piece together successful long-distance travel.

Read more

No Sweat – If You Are a Woman

By Madison Chapman, under the supervision of Kim Wilson. What does it mean to have dignity and personal agency as a migrant? Men and women told their stories to me in very distinct ways, through body language and in their retelling of traumatic events. What does this tell us about understanding gender in ethnographic research and the stories we do and do not hear while interviewing?

Read more

The Ties that Bind (or Not): Social Networks Among Extra-Continental Migrants

By Heather Kunin, under the supervision of Kim Wilson. Social networks have long been recognized as playing a pivotal role within migration, with multiple studies examining, among other phenomena, the role of social networks in predicting the decision to migrate and choice of destination, as well as in impacting migrants’ chances for integration. Social network analysis (SNA) is a methodology for visualizing and interrogating relationships among actors and is highly applicable to a field where social networks are considered “one of the fundamentals of the migration process.” Until recently, this discipline has been woefully underutilized within migration studies, although this is beginning to change.

Read more

Retaining, Changing, and Surrendering Hegemonic Masculinities

By Subin Mulmi, under the supervision of Kim Wilson. Transatlantic migration from South Asia is a long, arduous, and expensive journey but each year many South Asians risk their lives to reach the supposed dreamland of the United States. A large majority of the South Asians that I met during our re-search in 2018 in Costa Rica were men, prompting a focus on how men experienced long-distance migration.

Read more

How to Achieve the American Dream on an Immigrant’s Income

By Jeffrey Ashe, Kim Wilson.
The American Dream—being able to earn a good living, buy a home, send children to school, and build a life in the United States regardless of social stature or place of birth—is an aspiration for most who immigrate to the United States. While new immigrants may be fleeing violence, poverty, and persecution—so called “push factors”—they are also pulled by the prospects of a better life for themselves and their children. Some immigrants arrive in the United States wealthy, educated, and fluent in English. These case studies focus on immigrants who may arrive with a few dollars in their pocket, struggle with English, and sometimes are without legal documents. Our research examines how immigrant households save up in groups to transform income that is irregular, uncertain, and low into regular, predictable, and meaningful sums of cash.

Read more

Integration in Different Family Structures

By Maria Teresa Nagel, under the supervision of Kim Wilson.
When it comes to migration, broad classifications are abundant. Refugees and migrants are often seen as a monolithic mass, which encourages policy makers to essentialize migration as they search for the single solution to this complex phenomenon. Nowhere is this truer than in Tijuana, Mexico, the location of our study. There and elsewhere, immigrants are thought to be driven by the same motivations, threatened by the same risks, and in need of the same remedies. In this essay, I aim to highlight some key differences in the experiences of Central American migrants in Tijuana, focusing on the impact family structure has on migrants’ experiences living in that city.

Read more

Learning to Live in Limbo

By Maria Teresa Nagel, under the supervision of Kim Wilson.
Starting in 2018, Central American migrants attempting to enter the United States have encountered a series of obstacles which have forced them to consider a longer stay in Tijuana, a circumstance which presents new and unanticipated challenges. This essay explores the new realities faced by Central American migrants, whose journeys were expected to end in the United States, but who have instead had their own odyssey truncated and paused indefinitely in Tijuana, Mexico.

Read more

Putting Pieces in Place

By Ella Duncan, under the supervision of Kim Wilson. New arrivals to America must navigate ongoing identification of what American norms are and make decisions about which norms to embrace, which to merge into previously held norms, and which to discard as a poor fit. Financial norms hold a special place of importance. Deciding how to manage finances in America is directly related to the ability to provide for the well-being of oneself, one’s family, and one’s community. In a series of interviews in the fall of 2019, three Burundian immigrants in southern Maine shared their creative approaches to managing American finances.

Read more

Researching Haitian Migrants as a Haitian Researcher

By Tania Smith, under the supervision of Kim Wilson. By the time I received approval to research the integration strategies of Haitian migrants living in Tijuana, they had already been covered extensively by the media. As a Haitian–American who was raised in Haiti, I knew that I would be able to process and understand nuances that other researchers and journalists could not. I am a fluent French and Haitian Creole speaker with innate knowledge of Haitian culture. My expectations for myself were high. I assumed that I would arrive in Tijuana and immediately be able to fit in and connect with the migrants. I assumed that because I was a “compatriot,” Haitians would be ready and willing to interview with me and I would be welcomed into their community with open arms. I was wrong.

Read more