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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

July 7, 2011

Written by C.N.

New Books: Immigration at the Institutional Level

Below are some recently-released books that highlight the issue of immigration on the institutional level and how political, economic, and legal dynamics operate at the level of social institutions. A corresponding overview of books that look at immigration at the community and individual level is coming shortly. A book’s inclusion is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily mean a full endorsement of its contents.

Immigration Worldwide: Policies, Practices, and Trends, edited by Uma A. Segal, Doreen Elliott, and Nazneen S. Mayadas (Oxford University Press)

'Immigration Worldwide' by Segal, Elliott, and Mayadas

The ease of transportation, the opening of international immigration policies, the growing refugee movements, and the increasing size of unauthorized immigrant populations suggest that immigration worldwide is a phenomenon of utmost importance to professionals who develop policies and programs for, or provide services to, immigrants. Immigration occurs in both the wealthy nations of the global North and the poorer countries of the global South; it involves individuals who arrive with substantial human capital and those with little. It has far-reaching implications for a nation’s economy, public policies, social and health services, and culture.

The purpose of this volume, therefore, is to explore current patterns and policies of immigration in key countries and regions across the globe and analyze the implications for these countries and their immigrant populations. Each of its chapters, written by an international and interdisciplinary group of experts, explores how country conditions, policies, values, politics, and attitudes influence the process of immigration and subsequently affect immigrants, migration, and the nation itself.

No other volume explores the landscape of worldwide immigration as broadly as this does, with sweeping coverage of countries and empirical research, together with an analytic framework that sets the context of human migration against a wide backdrop of experiential factors that take shape long before an immigrant enters a host country. At once a sourcebook and an applied model of immigration studies, Immigration Worldwide is a valuable reference for scholars and students seeking a wide-ranging yet nuanced survey of the key issues salient to debates about the programs and policies that best serve immigrant populations and their host countries.

International Migration in the Age of Crisis and Globalization: Historical and Recent Experiences, by Andrés Solimano (Cambridge University Press)

'Intl. Migration in the Age of Crisis and Globalization' by Solimano

The international mobility of people and elites is a main feature of the global economy of today and yesterday. Immigration augments the labor force in receiving countries and provides many of the bodies and minds that are essential to any vibrant economy. Talented people are critical to the transfer of knowledge, ideas, fresh capital, contacts, and entrepreneurial capacities. This book is based on a blend of theory, varied country examples, and rich historical material ranging from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century.

It discusses the conceptual underpinnings of the push and pull factors of current migration waves and their impacts for development on the source and receiving countries. The analysis reviews the historical context under which various migration experiences have taken place – both in periods of internationalism and in periods of nationalism – in order to contribute to debates on the desirability of and tensions and costs involved in the current process of international migration and globalization. These issues are relevant during both times of economic slumps and times of economic growth.

Weapons of Mass Migration: Forced Displacement, Coercion, and Foreign Policy, by Kelly M. Greenhill (Cornell University Press)

'Weapons of Mass Migration' by Greenhill

At first glance, the U.S. decision to escalate the war in Vietnam in the mid-1960s, China’s position on North Korea’s nuclear program in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and the EU resolution to lift what remained of the arms embargo against Libya in the mid-2000s would appear to share little in common. Yet each of these seemingly unconnected and far-reaching foreign policy decisions resulted at least in part from the exercise of a unique kind of coercion, one predicated on the intentional creation, manipulation, and exploitation of real or threatened mass population movements. In Weapons of Mass Migration, Kelly M. Greenhill offers the first systematic examination of this widely deployed but largely unrecognized instrument of state influence. She shows both how often this unorthodox brand of coercion has been attempted (more than fifty times in the last half century) and how successful it has been (well over half the time). She also tackles the questions of who employs this policy tool, to what ends, and how and why it ever works.

Coercers aim to affect target states’ behavior by exploiting the existence of competing political interests and groups, Greenhill argues, and by manipulating the costs or risks imposed on target state populations. This ‘coercion by punishment’ strategy can be effected in two ways: the first relies on straightforward threats to overwhelm a target’s capacity to accommodate a refugee or migrant influx; the second, on a kind of norms-enhanced political blackmail that exploits the existence of legal and normative commitments to those fleeing violence, persecution, or privation. The theory is further illustrated and tested in a variety of case studies from Europe, East Asia, and North America. To help potential targets better respond to–and protect themselves against–this kind of unconventional predation, Weapons of Mass Migration also offers practicable policy recommendations for scholars, government officials, and anyone concerned about the true victims of this kind of coercion–the displaced themselves.

Not Fit for Our Society: Immigration and Nativism in America, by Peter Schrag (University of California Press)

'Not Fit for Our Society' by Schrag

In a book of deep and telling ironies, Peter Schrag provides essential background for understanding the fractious debate over immigration. Covering the earliest days of the Republic to current events, Schrag sets the modern immigration controversy within the context of three centuries of debate over the same questions about who exactly is fit for citizenship. He finds that nativism has long colored our national history, and that the fear–and loathing–of newcomers has provided one of the faultlines of American cultural and political life.

Schrag describes the eerie similarities between the race-based arguments for restricting Irish, German, Slav, Italian, Jewish, and Chinese immigrants in the past and the arguments for restricting Latinos and others today. He links the terrible history of eugenic “science” to ideas, individuals, and groups now at the forefront of the fight against rational immigration policies. Not Fit for Our Society makes a powerful case for understanding the complex, often paradoxical history of immigration restriction as we work through the issues that inform, and often distort, the debate over who can become a citizen, who decides, and on what basis.

Asian Immigration to the United States, by Philip Q. Yang (Polity Press)

'Asian Immigration to the U.S.' Yang

In her research on popular culture of the Vietnamese diaspora, Nhi T. Lieu explores how people displaced by war reconstruct cultural identity in the aftermath of migration. Embracing American democratic ideals and consumer capitalism prior to arriving in the United States, postwar Vietnamese refugees endeavored to assimilate and live the American Dream. In The American Dream in Vietnamese, she claims that nowhere are these fantasies played out more vividly than in the Vietnamese American entertainment industry.

Lieu examines how live music variety shows and videos, beauty pageants, and Web sites created by and for Vietnamese Americans contributed to the shaping of their cultural identity. She shows how popular culture forms repositories for conflicting expectations of assimilation, cultural preservation, and invention, alongside gendered and classed dimensions of ethnic and diasporic identity.

The American Dream in Vietnamese demonstrates how the circulation of images manufactured by both Americans and Vietnamese immigrants serves to produce these immigrants’ paradoxical desires. Within these desires and their representations, Lieu finds the dramatization of the community’s struggle to define itself against the legacy of the refugee label, a classification that continues to pathologize their experiences in American society.


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "New Books: Immigration at the Institutional Level" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2011/07/new-books-immigration-institutional-level/> ().

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