This Week in Ethnography: Blog, “LivingEthnography”

This Week in Ethnography I found an interesting blog entitled,

LIVING ETHNOGRAPHY: Research and Conversations on Ethnography, Writing and Folklore

As personal blogs go, it’s more productive than most and the content is appealing.  The About page is interesting in that it provides a few hints at the authors identity but no name:

I am a Folklorist, writer and ethnographer; I study immigration, communities and change.  My current academic book project, Diversity Dependence: Suburban Identity and the Quest for a Multicultural Ideal examines three locations where immigrants and newcomers fundamentally influence political dynamics  and identity.  I am also completing a novel, The Unfinished.

I did finally figured out who the author was but not without a little work! Are you enticed yet?….

What initially caught my attention was a posting entitled, “The New El Norte: Canada” where the author discusses a new immigration trend in North America.

I lived in Mexico on and off from 1999 through 2005.  Working with immigrants traveling back and forth to Pennsylvania, we spend a lot of time talking about the broken U.S. immigration system and the difficulties workers faced when crossing into the U.S.

Back then I asked a question that seemed far-fetched: why not go to work in Canada?  Their immigration laws were certainly more flexible.

The responses were consistently the same: “it’s too cold” or “I don’t know anyone in Canada.”  I already knew that most immigrants followed their networks north–one person would find and setting in a new area, then travel back to Mexico and share the cultural knowledge with family, friends and neighbors who in turn would start to join the “pioneer” migrant in the new locale.  Migrant patterns are enduring, but they are not unchanging.  This article from the Washington Post highlights how a model guest worker program in Canada is making a new El Norte.

For years I have argued that the U.S. needs a revised guest worker program. Many of my colleagues scoff at the idea, thinking that our H2-A visa program, which links agricultural workers to their employer for housing and health care.  It’s a program that might work well for farmer, but it makes the immigrant worker beholden to his or her employer.

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