Transforming Espacios Culturales into Cultural Spaces: How the Salvadoran Community is Establishing Evangelical Protestan Churches as Transtional Institutions in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area

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2008-12-04

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Abstract

Transnationalism is a theoretical concept that explains the current migration patterns that are in stark contrast to the prevailing theories of Acculturation and Assimilation. Migration can no longer be described as a linear process. Transnational "migrants" have a foot in both worlds. No matter where their legal citizenship lies, they have a dual social citizenship. Transnationalism is used not just to identify how immigrants maintain their culture in the host country but just as importantly, how they establish and maintain social and economic linkages between both countries. Transnationalism lacks a cohesive definition and a way to test whether it is present. The Salvadoran Evangelical Protestant Churches in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area serves as case study to examine how the transnationalism process occurs. Key findings include understanding first how transnational communities are established in the host country, as well as how transnational institutions such as Salvadoran Evangelical Protestant Churches began their process of transnationalism in the home country. Furthermore, the Salvadoran Evangelical Protestant Churches reflect and parallel the overall transnational Salvadoran historical and demographic trends. In addition, Salvadoran Evangelical Protestant Churches reinforce the process of transnationalism in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area through memory, ethnic identity, transmigration, networks, and cultural space. It is important to understand that ethnic churches are a major facilitator of transnationalism in the host country; however, there are many other transnational institutions that reinforce the process of transnationalism. This study examines independently each element, which contributes to the process of transnationalism: memory, ethnic identity, transmigration, networks, and cultural space. The research concludes by redefining transnationalism as the process that by which transmigrants create economic, political, social, or cultural networks by participating directly or indirectly in transmigration. Furthermore, transnationalism refers to the process by which migrants become transnational agents when they create linkages at various scales, over time, and across space between the host and home countries and vice versa.

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