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Generations Apart

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Pre-Immigration Experiences and Transnationalism among Ethiopian Immigrants in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area

image of African Diaspora

This study of Ethiopian immigrants in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area suggests that the continued involvement of immigrants with their place of origin is significantly shaped by pre-immigration and migration experiences. From my historically informed ethnographic work as well as the analysis of my informants’ pre-migration class and political backgrounds and the reasons why they left Ethiopia since the 1960s, three generations emerge: the Royalists, the Revolutionaries, and the DVs (Diversity Visa immigrants). In this article I explore the multiple and often contradictory narratives and discourses that characterize these generations. I also explore the ways in which the heterogeneity between the generations is manifested in their way of experiencing the United States, in their relationship with the homeland, and in the inter-generational interactions that bind them to one another. I use this case study to argue that attending to pre-migration intra- as well as inter-generational differences in immigrants’ experiences and views of their home and receiving countries will yield a fuller and more accurate picture of transnational migration.

Affiliations: 1: Eastern Washington University


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