Ilana Ventura
Ilana Ventura MA, MAPSS, University of Chicago
BA, Amherst College
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Computational Methods, Demography, Quantitative Methodology, Stratification, Urban Sociology, Immigration

Doctoral Candidate (2017)

Dissertation Title: Building an Uncertain Future: Understanding Immigrant Families and Investments Across Borders

Committee: Robert Vargas, René Flores, Angela Garcia (Social Work), Linda Waite

This dissertation uses mixed-methods to study different facets of cross-border life, through a comparative analysis of Latino immigrants to the United States and the US-born. Using in-depth interviews (n=44) and a novel nationally representative survey (n=1,046), I explore how and why the Latino first and second generation invest in their communities of origin despite their apparent assimilation. I begin with a quantitative overview of different transnational characteristics including remitting, transnational employment, dual citizenship, location of family members, homeland visits, transnational financial assets, and homeland property ownership (Ch.1). While many of these characteristics decline over generation, I find that homeland property ownership is greater for the second generation compared with the first. Subsequent chapters explore this finding in more depth, examining homeland property purchase (Ch.2), homeland property purchase aspirations (Ch.3), the complication of homeland property inheritance (Ch.4), homeland retirement (Ch.5) and symbolic-reactive ethnicity (Ch.6). I argue that—especially for middle class and second-generation Latinos in the US—value is derived from both American culture and Latino culture, to construct, what I call, a “multi-dimensional ethnic self” or “multidimensional assimilated self.” This middle-ground identity is often also explicitly transnational and trans-ethnic. Especially for the second generation, individuals may pull from various Latino national cultures not of their own heritage and explicitly looking to places throughout Latin America to construct meaning, community, and a sense of self.