Large-scale emigration from the Dominican Republic began in the early 1960s, with most Dominicans settling in New York City. Since then the growth of the city's Dominican population has been staggering, now accounting for around 7 percent of the total populace. How have Dominicans influenced New York City? And, conversely, how has the move to New York affected their lives? In Making New York Dominican, Christian Krohn-Hansen considers these questions through an exploration of Dominican immigrants' economic and political practices and through their constructions of identity and belonging.
Krohn-Hansen focuses especially on Dominicans in the small business sector, in particular the bodega and supermarket and taxi and black car industries. While studies of immigrant business and entrepreneurship have been predominantly quantitative, using survey data or public statistics, this work employs business ethnography to demonstrate how Dominican enterprises work, how people find economic openings, and how Dominicans who own small commercial ventures have formed political associations to promote and defend their interests. The study shows convincingly how Dominican businesses over the past three decades have made a substantial mark on New York neighborhoods and the city's political economy.
"Making New York Dominican is truly groundbreaking work on an important Latin American immigrant group. In Christian Krohn-Hansen's vivid, theoretically sophisticated ethnography, business is the central focus: how it works, how Dominican business owners break in and succeed, how they form political and cultural associations that sustain them and further their success, and how the impress of these businesses has made its mark on New York neighborhoods and political economy over three decades."—Roger Sanjek, author of The Future of Us All: Race and Neighborhood Politics in New York City.
Making New York Dominican is not about a Dominican enclave or a parallel sociocultural universe. It is instead about connections—between Dominican New Yorkers' economic and political practices and ways of thinking and the much larger historical, political, economic, and cultural field within which they operate. Throughout, Krohn-Hansen underscores that it is crucial to analyze four sets of processes: the immigrants' forms of work, their everyday life, their modes of participation in political life, and their negotiation and building of identities. Making New York Dominican offers an original and significant contribution to the scholarship on immigration, the Latinization of New York, and contemporary forms of globalization.
Christian Krohn-Hansen is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Oslo. He is author of Political Authoritarianism in the Dominican Republic and coeditor of State Formation: Anthropological Perspectives.