Pathways to citizenship: Mediations of naturalization and Brazilian migrants in the United States
This ethnographic study reveals how Brazilian immigrants go through the various stages of establishing themselves economically, culturally, and politically in the United States through the pathway to citizenship. Although often regarded as amnesty to illegal immigrants, the path to citizenship is recast here as an ensemble of procedures that consist of visas, interviews, fingerprinting, social security numbers, driver's licenses, bank accounts, credit cards, medical examinations, history tests, and oaths of allegiance that mediate the state regulated project of naturalization to the immigrant. This study uses the various stages of citizenship transition as a heuristic category to understand subject formations posited between the global city – here represented by New York – and the national project of creating naturalized citizens. I argue that, right from the outset at the consulate and the port of entry, the path to citizenship is transformative and generative, and that immigration/citizenship-related techniques of governmentality do not produce docile and compliant subjects. Through ethnographic interviews, I contend that the path to citizenship for Brazilian immigrants in New York City successfully creates a low wage workforce but transforms the promise of American citizenship from a story of national re-enchantment to a parody of docility.