Academic journal article The Geographical Review

Nodal Heterolocalism and Transnationalism at the United States-Canadian Border

Academic journal article The Geographical Review

Nodal Heterolocalism and Transnationalism at the United States-Canadian Border

Article excerpt

Human geographers have become increasingly interested in studies of North American immigration patterns and processes during the past four decades. After the passage of new and more open immigration laws in the 1960s, the arrival of large numbers of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers from Latin America, Asia, and Africa added new ethnic dimensions to geographical studies of the migration, settlement patterns, and adjustment experiences of new and ever more diverse arrivals in the United States and Canada. Of particular importance in recent years have been ongoing efforts to provide new ways of thinking about the relationship among the settlement patterns of new migrants, their adjustment and adaptation rates, and the maintenance of their ethnic identities (see Liberson 1961; Jaret 1991; Li 1998; Hiebert 1999; Roseman, Laux, and Thieme 1999). Critiques of classic Chicago School "acculturation-assimilation" models--focused on inner cities as places where poor, unassimilated, ghettoized minorities reside and on suburbs as places where new immigrants who are more assimilated into mainstream American or Canadian life live--continue to be debated in the scholarly literature. Today, many foreign-born migrants settle in multicultural suburbs located far from downtown neighborhoods (Portes and Jensen 1987; Thompson 1989; Zhou and Logan 1991; Omi and Winant 1994; Wright and Ellis 2000; Wright, Ellis, and Parks 2004).

To add both fuel and clarity to this ongoing debate, Wilbur Zelinsky and his colleague Barrett Lee (1998) debuted a new model for the study of the geography of immigration in the late 1990s called "heterolocalism." Three years later this new perspective on the relationship between the spatial patterns of new immigrants, and the social networks that help maintain their ethnic identities without residential propinquity, was expanded and refined in Zelinsky's seminal book on ethnicity, race, and space.

To test, critique, and expand on his model, I have been engaged in a long-term analysis of the spatial patterns and related social processes of refugees and immigrants in the Pacific Northwest, especially those who arrived in North America between 1990 and 2006. This article reports on some of the findings of this ongoing study, with a focus on the experiences of two large groups of refugees and immigrants in the region: Russians and Ukrainians. (1) I pose a series of new questions about their residential patterns and ethnoreligious identities. After brief background information on the migration and settlement stories of these two related groups, I pay particular attention to the impacts of residential and religious space on the ever-shifting terrain of ethnic identity. This analysis of the U.S.-Canadian borderland in the Pacific Northwest is one of the first attempts to analyze the relationship between heterolocalism and transnationalism to map out potential social and spatial relationships, patterns, and identities at a variety of scales. Many of the ideas presented here owe their origin to a synthesis of Zelinsky's prior work in ethnic and population geography, urban and historical geography, the geography of religion, and North American cultural landscapes.

ANALYZING A WORLD IN MOTION

For more than four decades, immigration theorists have debated the most effective way to analyze a world in motion brought on by the drama of international migration. A few examples of these many studies are listed here. According to some scholars, political borders are now blurred sites of flexible identities (see, for example, Appadurai 1991; Bailey and others 2002). In their view, it might be assumed that ethnic and national identities at the borderland dividing the United States and Canada in the Pacific Northwest region and elsewhere are rapidly becoming permeable sites of hybridity and flow. Other theorists suggest that, to accommodate and make sense out of this ongoing and often dramatic globalization process, scholars have had to construct new ways to conceptualize and write about the processes involved in immigration. …

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