Neocolonial traces in Jackson Heights

The words in the title of this blog post might seem unrelated to each other, but the research I have conducted has led me to find the connection between neocolonial theory and those living in Jackson Heights. The research both, academic and ethnographic that I have done at Jackson Heights has shed light on topics that affect immigrants in their countries of origin and in their place of residency. I wanted to explore the topic of immigration from its core, why are immigrants taking this decision? What factors and forces influence them? What is the situation in their countries? How are they managing their experience as immigrants here and how are they still connected to their countries?

My interest in this topic resides in the historical stigmatization of immigrants and their otherization. As we know, Latin America was colonized by different European countries. Several years have passed since they gained their independence in the 19th century, but nowadays, are they really independent? Imperialist power exercised by those at the center (First-World countries) over those at the periphery (Third-World countries) has kept that power dynamic very much alive, the relationship of the dominator and the dominated. Through political, economic, militaristic and technological means these powerful forces have interfered in these countries with a rhetoric that emphasizes their need to “help” those “underdeveloped” countries. As I have explored on my research, different international agreements have done the exact opposite in Latin America and have fueled the need to leave those countries and their decaying economies.

That is why it is important to keep in mind the word neocolonial, as we can find the source of these precarity in the ideologies and actions derived from colonialism. Neocolonialism, then refers to the colonial remains in our present.

Why should we care?

This work tries to unveil these overlooked forces. In order to find a solution, we need to look at the problem’s roots. This ecology looks at different perspectives and stages of this issue. The most important element of my research is those affected directly by it, immigrants. How are immigrants at Jackson Heights dealing with their immigrant, national and regional identity?

I have concentrated much of my on-site research on money transfer offices, which helps to exemplify the central aspect of the reasons they migrate, restaurants offering their national dishes, which shows their strong ties with their countries and the streets of this neighborhood to understand how they have influenced the neighborhood’s aesthetics and how are they living their everyday lives here. These neocolonial traces have influenced their lives and will continue to do so even now that they have left the periphery.

~ by jocelyne97 on March 31, 2019.