The 1.5 and second generation in northwest Arkansas: negotiating the roles of assimilation, transnationalism, and ethnic identity

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The children of immigrants who arrived in the United States in the 1980s now make up one of the fastest growing components of American society. They face unique and interesting

The children of immigrants who arrived in the United States in the 1980s now make up one of the fastest growing components of American society. They face unique and interesting pressures as they incorporate aspects of their parents' heritage into their contemporary American lives. The purpose of this dissertation is to offer an in-depth look at the 1.5 and second generation by examining how the immigrant descendants negotiate assimilative pressures, transnational practices, and ethnic identification. Using ethnographic research methods, such as participant observation and in-depth interviews, I researched the children of immigrants, ages 18-30, living in northwest Arkansas, who have at least one immigrant parent from Latin America. This research is important because non-traditional receiving towns, especially more rural localities, are often overlooked by scholarly studies of migration in favor of larger metropolitan centers (e.g., Los Angeles, Chicago). Studying immigrant descendants in smaller towns that are becoming increasingly populated by Hispanic/Latinos will create a better understanding of how a new generation of immigrants is assimilating into American society and culture. To increase awareness on the Hispanic/Latino 1.5 and second generation living in small town America and to offer potential solutions to facilitate an upwardly mobile future for this population, my dissertation explores a number of research questions. First, how is this population assimilating to the U.S.? Second, are members of the 1.5 and second generation transnational? How active is this transnational lifestyle? Will transnationalism persist as they grow older? Third, how does this population identify themselves ethnically? I also pay particular attention to the relationships among assimilation, transnationalism, and ethnic identity. My dissertation documents the lived experiences of the 1.5 and second generation in northwest Arkansas. The children of immigrants are one of the fastest growing groups nationwide. To understand their world and the lives they lead is to understand the new fabric of American society. I anticipate that the results from this research can be used to facilitate easier transitions to the U.S. among current and prospective immigrant generations, ensuring a brighter outlook for the future of the newest members of U.S. society.