@article{Eckstein2002, author="Susan Eckstein and Lorena Barberia", title="Grounding Immigrant Generations in History: Cuban Americans and Their Transnational Ties", year="2002", journal="International Migration Review", volume="36-3", number="Fall", pages="799-837", annote="

Question(s) addressed by the author and working arguments

The importance of a historically grounded generational frame of analysis. It captures differences in view and involvements between two cohorts of first generation émigrés.

The two paradigms for analyzing immigrant experiences, “assimilationist” and “transnationalist,” leave unanalyzed important differences in immigrant adaptation rooted in different historical generation experiences. Assimilationists highlight second-generation adaptation to the country of settlement; transnationalists emphasize the continued ties limit full assimilation into the new country.

Generational experiences are historically and contextually grounded. Political generational experiences are not entirely left behind with emigration. This would be specially in the case of refugees. People in the country of origin may be influenced by family abroad, by new institutions and practices that integrate “diasporas” into their home country, by the media, and the like.

With the “new Cubans” emerged a first-ever social divide within the émigré community. For decades Cuban Americans who disagreed with the community leadership feared making their views known. They feared social isolation within their community, and they feared discrimination in the world of work.

While first wave émigrés left Cuba for political reasons and to preserve their socioeconomic status jeopardized by the radicalization of the revolution, the vast majority of second-wavers, especially those emigrating in the 1990s, came to the US for economic reasons, to improve their material well being. Children of first-wave émigrés, in small but growing numbers, also want to connect with their roots.

Cuban Americans once reluctant to return to Cuba see that nothing happened to those who went, either in Cuba or within Cuban-American community that once ostracized those who defied the local leadership’s travel boycott. Many Cuban Americans suffer a Messiah complex. When they go to Cuba they feel like God, like saviors.

While the cumulative long-term impact of the surging transnational people-to-people ties remains to be seen, the new bonds are serving to remake Cuba in ways that visiting family, motivated by kinship loyalty, had not intended and in ways the Cuban government can no longer control.

Transnational kinship bonds are increasing émigré presence within Cuban society, challenging the state’s ideological hegemony, reducing Cubans’ dependence on the state, undermining the statist economy, and including state institutional reforms.

The new transnational culture, together with family encounters, are so much part of contemporary Cuba that they have become a major theme of films, literature, and music on both sides of the Florida Straits, including with Cuban government approval. In essence, informal transnational ties are generating a range of unintended consequences. Family visits are serving to remake Cuba and to build up a new transnational social and cultural life.

Conceptual references to transnational – transnationalism

Transnationalists, transnational people-to-people ties, transnational kinship bonds, transnational culture and transnational social and cultural life.

Conclusions or Final Remarks

Émigré visits to Cuba, which have increased dramatically in recent years even when prohibited by Washington, are contributing to island social, cultural, and economic changes consistent, paradoxically, with the transforming goals of both Washington and the Cuban American leadership corps opposed to visits. Second wave émigrés have contributed to changes both in Cuba and in the Cuban American community in the United States.

", keyword0="Assimilation", type="journal" }