Central American immigrants and the democratization of Los Angeles: “La cadena de opresión y la resistencia”
Increased capital mobility and the globalization of production have impacted urban centers throughout the United States; as local industries internationally seek cheap laborers and "cost effective" business conditions. As a result, thousands of immigrant workers are seeking economic opportunities in the U.S. And to a large extent, U.S. manufacturing and service industries welcome these workers for they are a source of cheap labor.
This study examines the affects of increased immigration from Central America on one major U.S. city: Los Angeles, California. Central American immigrants are supplying the city with labor and services at the lowest possible cost, while facing rampant racial discrimination and workplace exploitation. Central American immigrants also confront political hardships as victims of nativist anti-immigrant hostility and racialized state policies that criminalize and marginalize Latinos. In spite of these conditions, Central Americans contribute substantially to the struggle for democracy in Los Angeles.
This dissertation examines the methods of resistance and contributions that Central Americans have employed to protect themselves from nativist and racialized state assaults, while successfully challenging liberal notions of democracy.
This study is an interdisciplinary approach with history, ethnic studies, sociology, anthropology, and economics complementing the political analysis used to understand the Central Americans experience in Los Angeles. This approach helps examine the complex political, economic, and social phenomena encountered by Central Americans. Through the method of ethnographic research, data are obtained through participant observations and in-depth interviews with key participants in Central American community agencies and labor unions.
The theoretical framework informing this study incorporates theories of Internal Colonialism and Class Segmentation, and Racial Formation. These theories are used to demonstrate the State's role in perpetuating racialized policies that subordinate the Latino community to the dominant culture. I expand on these theories by showing how mainstream politics have contributed to the internal colonial segmentation process. I also provide historical and contemporary examples of the internal colonial stratification process that has segmented both Central Americans and Chicanos in Los Angeles.
This study finds that Central American immigrants are contributing to the democratization of Los Angeles. They are engaging and influencing mainstream politics and labor unions, while politicizing the Latino community and society at large to the social injustices that exist throughout the city and state.
Minority & ethnic groups;
0631: Minority & ethnic groups
0337: American history