Academic journal article Journal of Third World Studies

Pierre-Louis, Francois. Haitians in New York City: Transnationalism and Hometown Associations

Academic journal article Journal of Third World Studies

Pierre-Louis, Francois. Haitians in New York City: Transnationalism and Hometown Associations

Article excerpt

Pierre-Louis, Francois. Haitians in New York City: Transnationalism and Hometown Associations. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2006.

Prior to 1960 and the advent of the dictatorship of Francois Duvalier, less than 5,000 Haitians lived in the United States. In subsequent decades, as a result of political violence and economic confusion in Haiti, the number of Haitians living in the United States rapidly increased. Within sixty years, the number of Haitians and Haitian-Americans living in the New York City metropolitan area had increased to over 600,000 people. According to Francois Pierre-Louis (an associate professor of political science at Queens College, City University of New York), New York City was "the destination of choice for Haitian immigrants" (p. 30). Whereas the initial center of the Haitian community in New York City was concentrated on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, by the 1980s Brooklyn, specifically the Flatbush section, "became the social and economic enclave for Haitian immigrants" (p. 31). Not surprisingly, the majority of Haitian immigrants who are members of hometown associations live in Flatbush. Many Haitian immigrants are now U.S. citizens and have children and grandchildren born in the United States. For many of these people, the United States is their home and Haiti is merely a distant land where their ancestors came from. For others, however, their Haitian homeland and origin is just as important as their American identity. In Haitians in New York City: Transnationalism and Hometown Associations, Pierre-Louis details how and why Haitians and Haitian-Americans in New York City "maintain contact with their homeland through hometown associations" (p. 1).

Pierre-Louis highlights that the insistence on using transnational practices by some Haitian immigrants to maintain their identity has led to conflict with those Haitian immigrants who want to fully integrate into U.S. society. The author, who identifies himself with the transnational group, contends that many Haitian immigrants "conduct a transnational life as a way to deal with the racial and class issues that they have encountered in U.S. society as a triple minority-immigrants, blacks, and non-English speakers" (p. 2). In an attempt to foster a transnational existence, these Haitian immigrants have established numerous hometown organizations "to cope with integration, racism, and political incorporation" (p. …

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