Paul Stoller and Jasmin Tahmaseb McConatha “City Life: West African Communities in New York”

Globalize cities have created an intermingling of cultures from the home city as well as the host city, forming a transnational community. Unlike the ethnic enclaves of the past, transnational communities are an amalgamation of multiple cultures. These communities begin to form around nationalities, religion, and general kinship which help immigrants, who often feel alienated and lonely, adjust to their new homeland. Being in a new country and not having the support of family can have psychological ramifications for the isolated immigrants. The West African immigrant men in New York City were no different. In researching this group, Stoller and McConatha found that these men experience higher levels of distrust, feelings of anxiety and lack of spousal companionship. To counteract these negative effects, regardless of the living conditions in which these immigrants had to live,  some chose to stay in deplorable conditions because of the fellowship that was present.

The West African network ties in New York City are very strong, from landlords that will work with tenants who may not be financially stable to the taxi drivers that will shuttle newly arrived immigrants to higher quality SROs. The Islamic network ties are also a strong mechanism for support in that its practice centers on fellowship and cooperative economics, providing them with a sense of identity and through its discipline and values, has made them strong and able to cope with the loneliness and social isolation they experience.

Stoller and McConatha found that the West African communities in New York developed formal associations around various African nationalities which support West African immigrants economically and socially. Although the class differences established in their home countries have also infiltrated the communities in their host country,  for the most part the West African immigrants find support and comfort from the transnational communities in which they have settled. The researchers found evidence that some West African immigrants were more successful than others. They attribute these differences to competencies, including language competency as well as cultural competency, among the immigrants and those with higher competencies in these areas proved more successful in business as well as in personal matters. 

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