Editor's Notes

By Estrada, Larry J.; Takagi, Midori | Ethnic Studies Review, January 1, 2010 | Go to article overview

Editor's Notes


Estrada, Larry J., Takagi, Midori, Ethnic Studies Review


As a nation there is probably no greater dividing point for most Americans than the topic of immigration. For the past eight years the American Congress has sought to establish a comprehensive immigration policy and pass sweeping legislation that seeks to define who is eligible to be an American citizen and resident and who will be ultimately included or excluded in terms of naturalization and citizenship. Recent failed attempts to pass a "Dream Act" to legitimate scores of immigrant children and young adults who have resided in the United States nearly all their lives, and in many cases have no conception of any other culture or national entity, illustrates both the urgency and complexity of projected legislation. Millions will ultimately be affected in terms of their status and identity.

Immigration has mushroomed as a public concern and governmental priority not only in the United States, but throughout the world. The implications of immigration policy are further impacted by the forces of economic globalization, nationalism, nativism, identity and gender politics, which complicate the previously understood patterns of "national integrity" and the notion of citizenship into the twenty first century.

What constitutes the roles and responsibilities of recently arrived immigrants, and in turn the role of host governments and societies to both new arrivals and long standing ethnic minority population groups, remains both a debatable matter and one fraught with economic, political as well as racialized overtones.

The selections for this particular edition look at the interplay of the issues of gender, identity, trans-nationalism and ethnicity within a comparative perspective. These are important questions that cross international boundaries and that need both collaborative and on-going examination by a host of scholars. The role of global trans-national capitalism has brought about ever increasing changes and dynamic forces that continue to redefine national identity as well as economic and cultural sustainability.

Vernon Damani Johnson in his discussion "Immigration and Domestic Politics in South Africa: Contradictions of the Rainbow Nation," offers an historical and political economic analysis of immigration policy and national racial polity in South Africa as they interface with the daunting socioeconomic problems facing that country. Johnson addresses immigration from a global-system perspective and responds to the overriding questions facing the newly defined nation state: What role has immigration played in the country's economic and political development? How do we explain post-apartheid waves of xenophobic attacks on African immigrants? What has been the response of government and progressive actors in civil society to xenophobia? What are the prospects for enlightened immigration policy as South Africa moves forward?

David Aliano looks at the role that nation states have towards diasporic emigrants and in turn their overall economic and political utility to their former homeland. By looking at a recently changed Italian law granting its citizens living abroad the right to elect their own representatives to the Italian parliament, he explores the multiple ways in which citizenship and national identities are being redefined in an increasingly globalized world. In particular, his article explores both the problems and possibilities posed by transnational and extraterritorial citizenship law, placing the Italian case in a comparative perspective. …

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