African Diaspora Identities provides insights into the complex transnational processes involved in shaping the migratory identities of African immigrants. It seeks to understand the durability of these African transnational migrant identities and their impact on inter-minority group relationships. John A. Arthur demonstrates that the identities African immigrants construct often transcends country-specific cultures and normative belief systems. He illuminates the fact that these transnational migrant identities are an amalgamation of multiple identities formed in varied social transnational settings. The United States has become a site for the cultural formations, manifestations, and contestations of the newer identities that these immigrants seek to depict in cross-cultural and global settings. Relying mostly on their strong human capital resources (education and family), Africans are devising creative, encompassing, and robust ways to position and reposition their new identities. In combining their African cultural forms and identities with new roles, norms, and beliefs that they imbibe in the United States and everywhere else they have settled, Africans are redefining what it means to be black in a race-, ethnicity-, and color-conscious American society.
John A Arthur —
John A. Arthur is professor of sociology at University of Minnesota.
Arthur, John A. African diaspora identities: negotiating culture in transnational migration. Lexington Books, 2010. 302p bibl index afp; ISBN 9780739146378. Reviewed in 2011feb CHOICE.
Using responses from more than 1,000 immigrants from a dozen African countries who now live in the US, Canada, and the UK, sociologist Arthur (Minnesota) reveals the interplay between global structures (e.g., capitalism's need for a mobile global labor surplus, colonial and postcolonial experiences, economic and political crises, and human rights atrocities) and the desires of African immigrants for economic opportunities in Western countries where their human capital resources enable them to contend for agency. Transnational networks allow African immigrants to "straddle" multiple geopolitical sites and to construct community resources in host countries that empower a collective response to racism, maintain African cultural practices, and accumulate resources to be returned to their home communities. Through these networks and collective expectations, immigrants remit rewards garnered in host countries for economic and educational development in their home countries, positioning them to both impact global trends and to improve the quality of life in Africa. Arthur's theoretical framework and methodology position him well relative to scholars such as Saskia Sassen (Guests and Aliens, 1999) and build on his substantial body of work on the African diaspora.
Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above in relevant fields of study. -- J. R. Wendland, Grand Valley State University