Hometown Associations in the Dominican Republic and the United States

Saturday, January 7, 2012: 2:50 PM
Rogers Park Room (Westin Chicago River North)
Deepak Lamba-Nieves, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
A “new enthusiasm” around migration and development has led researchers to examine how migrant networks and their transnational ties forge new bridges and bonds between origin and host societies. Notwithstanding these important shifts in perspective, which have placed increasing attention on the organized actions of migrant groups and their transnational character, very little is known about these entities in the development or the political context. In addition, little attention has been placed on the novel types of social and political practices that emerge when migrants engage in development projects across borders.

This paper addresses several of these analytical shortcomings and the existing gaps in the literature through the study of hometown associations (HTAs). It also approaches the idea of development from a critical, political economy perspective that places attention on how these organizations help transform state-society relations, governance dynamics, and institutions and policies at varying spatial scales.

People, money, commodities, ideas, norms and institutions, amongst other flows, move through HTAs structures and across the domains of interaction where they operate. Examined altogether, these elements are the building blocks of distinct development logics—ways of defining and carrying out development—that are assembled and circulated through transnational social fields that link places, people and institutions across borders. As HTAs become involved in transnational community development projects, they establish linkages and dialogues with state and other actors that may end up transforming relationships between the state and society, and promoting different approaches to local development.

The data presented relies mostly on a case study approach where a series of semi structured interviews and ethnographic observations were conducted in the Peravia Province—a southern, semi-arid, agricultural region of the Dominican Republic―and in important Dominican migrant destinations in the United States, such as New York City and Boston, Massachusetts.