Across Continents, Families & Generations

A review of Across Generations: Immigrant Families in America by Nancy Foner in The Indypendent.

A 10-year-old daughter of an African immigrant falls during school recess in Washington, D.C., scraping her knee. School classmates run over to help — the girl’s knee is bleeding from the fall — but the teacher immediately interjects, “Don’t touch her, she is from Africa, you might get AIDS!”

Raised by his grandparents in El Salvador, Eduardo resents his parents’ decision to move to the United States without him. Working three jobs, his mother says she only wanted the best for him. Eduardo asks, “What do you think is worse, to share poverty here with my half-siblings and mother and father, or not having learned how to love them because I never saw them?”

These accounts are just a taste of the plethora of stories in Across Generations: Immigrant Families in America, a collection of essays that unearth the generational and cultural tensions that divide immigrant families and the ties that bring them together. Editor Nancy Foner, together with 10 scholars (nine sociologists and one anthropologist), delves into this largely unexplored world, reminding us that there is more to immigrants than the one-dimensional image of the “hard worker” portrayed by mainstream culture. The book explores the immigrant family within a transnational context, analyzing the heavy impact of geo-political and societal forces.

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