Issue Editors: Ayumi Takenaka, Karsten Paerregaard, and Ulla Berg
This issue of Latin American Perspectives explores contemporary Peruvian migration by examining how relations of inequality and structures of domination in Peru drive people to migrate - both internally and internationally - and how migration, in turn, affects such relations and structures. Historically, migration in Peru has been spurred and shaped by a complex set of racial, ethnic, and class relations, but it has also shaped and altered these categories in significant ways. During the colonial period, African and European immigration contributed to the country’s ethnic diversity whereas rural-urban migration in the context of 20th century capitalist expansion and rapid urbanization led to important changes in the country’s class and power structure. More recently, the economic and political crisis that Peru experienced in the 1980s, 1990s and the first half of the new millennium has prompted an exodus of Peruvians from almost all the country’s social classes and ethnic group to the extent that migration today is regarded as the principal means to achieve social mobility not only by working-class (some of indigenous descent) but also middle-class Peruvians. This issue addresses from various angles how the close link between class and a racialized geography within Peru has generated the notion that geographical mobility is a primary mechanism to achieve social mobility.
Currently, Peruvians are dispersed around the globe to more than 25 countries, and the rate of emigration is still accelerating. Peruvian migrants also represent diverse racial, ethnic, and class backgrounds. The diversity and intensity of the various waves in Peruvian migration history cannot be understood independent of hegemonic structures based on class, ethnicity, and geography. Upper-middle class Peruvians from Lima tend to concentrate in certain areas of Miami, whereas those of the urban working class migrate mostly to places including Paterson (NJ), Barcelona, Buenos Aires, and Santiago. Andean villagers congregate in Hartford (CT) and Washington DC, and migrants in Japan are mostly urban middle-class of Japanese descent. While all migrants leave their country hoping to achieve upward mobility, this pattern of migration also reproduces Peru’s social structure abroad where migrant communities are socially segmented based on these “pre-migration” social and economic hierarchies.
Based on ethnographic, demographic and historical research in Peru, the US, Japan, Spain, Italy and Chile, the articles in this issue empirically show how exactly migration relates to, and potentially transforms, dominant social and economic structures in Peru. They do so by examining the strategies that Peruvian migrants from different class and ethnic backgrounds use to mobilize resources necessary to migrate and adapt to the receiving context. They also analyze the power relations affecting these strategies--how migrants and their relatives in Peru negotiate and reconfigure these relations during the course of migration, and how this process is shaped by new forms of exploitation and domination to which migrants submit themselves in their efforts to establish new lives in Peru’s urban centers and foreign destinations. Finally, the issue discusses the local, national and global mechanisms that alternately propel and thwart migrants to engage in transnational activities in their regions of origin in Peru and scrutinizes the institutions and networks, including the tensions and conflicts emerging from these, that migrants draw on or produce to carry out these activities.
A thorough and comparative examination of Peruvian migration will shed light on a number of important questions for the study of the economic and social forces that drive to people to migrate, internally as well as transnationally. First, it allows us to understand the relation between physical and social mobility in the Peruvian context and analyze how already ongoing rural-urban migration processes shape current patterns and experiences of transnational migration. Second, it provides us with a productive lens to study the class structure and relations of domination that shape the livelihood strategies and migration practices of hundreds of thousands of Peruvians. Third, it instigates us to explore the new forms of dependency and domination that migration processes produce in migrants’ regions of origin and to examine the tensions and conflicts that they generate between those who access important migrant networks and those who do not. Finally, this perspective allows us to examine how migrants’ absence and their remittances may transform – symbolically or materially - relations of inequality and existing power structures in Peru.
Transnational migration has also recently become a key political issue in Peru. According to the Peruvian state, close to 10% of the total population now live abroad, and popular media opinion polls have recently indicated that 75% of youths, including well-educated professionals, aspire to emigrate in the near future if they had the option to do so. Indeed, Peru currently has one of the highest rates of out-migration in Latin America. Acting upon its newfound realization of the economic and political importance of Peruvian migrants abroad, the Peruvian state has recently created several policy initiatives to include Peruvians abroad in a new imagined Peruvian nation spanning the geographical borders. While such initiatives are well known and documented for other Latin American states including Mexico and Haiti, Peru deserves special attention, as it is currently negotiating new state-migrant relationships. These negotiations are also affecting citizenship practices and claims of belonging of Peruvians abroad.
The proposed issue is thus a timely and valuable contribution given its interest not only to an academic audience, but also to a number of political and activist constituencies in assessing and managing the impact of Peruvian migration on Peru’s economic, political, and social structures. The articles included in the special issue speak to the impact of transnational migration on economies and societies in the global south, and also to current debates about immigrant incorporation in the US, Europe and Asia. In sum, the proposed issue provides not only new empirical findings of Peruvian migration through in-depth case studies. It also contributes to an understanding of the relations of inequality and power that expel millions of Latin Americans from their home regions and cities and force them to migrate both internally and internationally.
Manuscripts should be no longer than 25 pages of double-spaced text in English, Spanish, or Portuguese. If possible, submit two copies along with a cover sheet and basic biographical information. With these items, we also require that the manuscript be sent on a CD-R, by e-mail, or on a floppy disk if the other formats are not available. The LAP style guide is available on request or online.
Please send any manuscript submissions to:
Managing Editor, Latin American Perspectives¸ P.O. Box 5703, Riverside, California 92517-5703
LATIN AMERICAN PERSPECTIVES
P.O. BOX 5703
RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA 92517-5703
FAX to LAP (951) 827-5685
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