Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sassen Reflection

In the first few pages of the reading, Sassen draws attention to the fact that people tend not to migrate from poorer to richer regions, even during periods when border supervision and immigration legislation were less strict. This observation really struck me as interesting, because it seems to be counterintuitive to many of the things one hears about immigration and migration, especially in the United States. I was also surprised to hear that few people living in the EU move to other EU countries with better job opportunities or better socioeconomic conditions when they are quite free to do so. To me, this highlights a concept that I think will be key when discussing "mobilizations of identity" this quarter and throughout the summer. That concept is that people, on the whole, are reluctant to leave their communities of origin unless some strong push and pull forces motivate them to do so. Remembering this concept will certainly be helpful when we begin talking about the strategies people use to acclimate to a new cultural climate and adapt or do not adapt to a new home. I can definitely see why people would want to group themselves in a particular district of  a new city and seek out those who have migrated from the same country, especially keeping in mind that many people are conflicted about leaving home. I can also see why purposeful, explicit cultural expression might become integral in a person's life when before it was just second nature. Unfortunately, as Sassen also brings up, this expression of culture might provoke a racialization response from the residents of the country to which these individuals migrated. Sassen posits that this racialization is more due to the "outsiderness" of the new group or individual than the actual cultural practices themselves. However, this racialization and suspicion of outsiders likely provokes an increased need for immigrants to insulate themselves from the new culture and thus a cycle may persist. I look forward to learning more about how this dynamic might exist in the Turkish culture in Berlin, perhaps how Berliners overcome the urge to judge or racialize, and even how Turkish immigrants blend their culture with that of Berlin and reinvent their identity.

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