Chapter 7, Safe Harbor

In the last chapter of God in Chinatown, Guest presents us with five conclusions that he has come to through his ethnographic research. These conclusions are that Fuzhounese religious communities are a location for mobilizing social capital, hierarchies of class are replicated within the religious communities, there’s successful construction of Religious networks between home and host religious communities in Fuzhou and New York, Fuzhounese religious communities serve as sites for establishing alternative identities, and finally the immigration process engenders a search for meaning.

Guest however also makes the point to say that “while these findings are discussed specifically in relationship to Fuzhounese religious communities, I would argue that they suggest a paradigm for understanding immigrant religious communities in the United States in general and also serve to enhance the contemporary study of immigrant incorporation into U.S. society.” (196). I couldn’t agree more with this statement that Guest makes. I found that as I was reading this chapter, I kept thinking of many different ethnic groups that had so many similarities with the Fuzhounese communities. For instance, Guest mentions that the Fuzhounese come together with their shared status as non-citizens; when I read this I could not help but immediately think of the Our Lady of Guadalupe book and the struggle that those people faced with obtaining citizenship. While reading this part I was reminded of the discussion that we had in class one day. What makes a citizen a citizen? Is it legal status? Or is it the way they get involved in the community? What do we as a nation and society define as citizenship? As we saw in class, everyone has so many different opinions on this, so until we agree upon what it means to be a citizen, this problem will continue to remain.

One other example of how I saw connections between these two books was that both the Fuzhounese people and the Mexican people practiced transnationalism. Something interesting is that both of these groups however, because of their lack of citizenship in the United States, and the ways in which they’re brought into the country, cannot afford to actually leave the country and go back home; therefore they practice transnationalism in different ways from the wealthier people. For the Fuzhounese, the only people who really went back to China were the wealthier people, as they were the ones who could afford to do so. This goes with another point that guest makes in this chapter, that although the Fuzhounese people are united as a distinct group, there are many things internally within the group that separate them. I just found that very interesting since you would think that because all of these people are coming together to embrace their similarities, that within the group everyone would forget about their differences and focus upon their similarities, but as mentioned, this is not the case. Now i think it would be interesting to go back and see if this too was present in other ethnic groups as well.

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