TitleTransnational connections of first generation immigrants from Kenya in the United States
NameKioko, Maria Mwikali (author), Gerson, Judith (chair), McCall, Leslie (internal member), BROOKS, ETHEL (internal member), Hodgson, Dorothy (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Transborder ethnic groups--Kenya,
Kenya--Emigration and immigration--Social aspects
DescriptionThis study analyzed why and how first generation immigrants from Kenya maintain transnational ties. It explored the characteristics of these ties, how they are sustained, whether they vary by gender, age, education or length of stay, and how ties affect immigrants' experiences. Ethnographic interviews with 38 participants living in Paterson, NJ showed no overarching immigrant experience. All participants regardless of age, gender, length of stay and education maintained transnational ties with family and friends. Ties took the form of phone calls, internet communication, mail, material exchanges, home visits and cultural activities and occurred mostly with people from their local ethnic villages. Frequency of ties by length of stay assumed a U-shaped curve with more ties initially, followed by a decline after some years in the U.S. and an increase thereafter. Participants mentioned three factors necessary for successful immigration experience: legal status in the U.S., a good education and a strong support network. None of them believed aspiring to a middle class American life or assimilation indicated success. Rather success meant assisting people in Kenya and co-ethnics validated the importance of transnational practices. Despite the absence of a visible Kenyan ethnic enclave in Paterson, there was a close-knit community connected through social networks. Women received assistance from kin and non-kin to migrate, while men were assisted mostly by family. Women's friendship ties transcended family ties but were not in competition with them; they used their friendship ties to advance family livelihoods. Men's immigration experiences were confounded by gender expectations based on their responsibilities as breadwinners and heads of households. Women's immigration decisions were interwoven in their daily struggles to support their families. Immigration was a never-ending process, as women and men perpetuated the experience through assisting the immigration of their children and friends and helping newly arrived immigrants. Future research using a longitudinal approach would enable an understanding of successive immigrant generations and if they reproduced the patterns of their elders' transnational ties. Longitudinal study would also allow us to discern if the U-shaped pattern of ties found here represented a cross-sectional perspective or instead overtime ties ebbed and flowed.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Maria Mwikali Kioko
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.