Returning Through Remittances: Immigrant Connections that Propel The Forces of Globalization

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Vyas, Sakhi
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As a second generation Indian in America, I have long been exposed to stories of the immigrant experience, though I was never able to fully immerse myself in the nuances of immigration until I heard narratives from various members of two local diaspora communities. Using those personal accounts as well as published studies on diaspora, I began to find common threads in the stories of the immigrant experience: identity transformation, issues of nationality, and the relationship with the home country among others. This piqued my interest and led me to further study diaspora and immigration issues relative to the big picture of globalization. In looking at the movement of people, I became fascinated with immigration trends and the counter-currents that flow in opposite directions. Remittances are one such example of counter-cyclical movement; immigrants tend to move to certain regions and their remittances move in the opposite direction. Remittances and other returns are tangible representations of intangible connections such as kinship or identity, which keep the immigrants connected to the home country. I utilize the connection of remittances between the immigrant and the home country to propose that the individual immigrant is an active agent in driving the forces of globalization. The interviews and subsequent analyses as well as other secondary research aim to elucidate the immigrant's role in globalization. I began by asking simple questions and uncovering complex ideas. Who are the immigrants that settle abroad? What is their purpose? In sending home goods and money, what does the immigrant say to his/her own national and personal loyalties?How does this fit into the scale of globalization? Using this core of ideas, this study will outline the means by which immigrants actively pilot the forces of globalization through remittances. Immigrants move out of their home country and into a host country; this simple act of settlement abroad is the first step in globalization. Thereafter, immigrants become conscious of an emotional attachment to the country of origin. This emotional aspect of nationality and identity trigger a desire to maintain connections with the home country. Tangible remittances or other substantive returns kindle the global economy as the simultaneous awareness of identity shifts the immigrant paradigm towards transnationalism. These two forces, propelled by emotional connections, catalyze globalization; I argue, therefore, that immigrants are the active agents of globalization.
iii, 40 p.
Kalamazoo, Mich. : Kalamazoo College.
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