Wednesday, August 26, 2009
To see pictures from my book launch/birthday party on August 25, 2009, please see my book's website. About 50 people came, including friends, colleagues from Department of Sociology and the Carolina Population Center, and some of my undergraduate students. I autographed about 20 books. The raspberry white chocolate cake from Fresh Market was a big hit! Howard Aldrich, the chair of the Sociology Department, is shown here introducing the book. I also told the audience a bit more about the research for the book and displayed the artwork I collected in Haiti, all the while with Haitian compas music playing in the background.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Like the other two panelists, Solange Lefebvre complimented my research design. She noted that
Omar McRoberts also complimented my three-country research design. I have to give the credit to my dissertation advisor, Alejandro Portes, for encouraging me to compare the same group of immigrants in three countries. Michele Lamont, who was also on my dissertation committee, gave me crucial contacts that helped me expand my research into
Nancy Ammerman was impressed with the research design of my book that allows us to see the effects of macro-level structures of law, policy and culture on how immigrants form religious communities and how those communities support their adaptation. She complimented me for both sorting out cross-national patterns in Haitians' adaptation and for writing about individual people's stories with a compassionate heart. Although much has been written comparing "religious" America" and "secular" Europe, Ammerman liked how my book makes a more sophisticated argument about church-state relations in Europe, Canada and the U.S. I argue that these relationships are constantly being re-negotiated, and how states respond to immigrants' religious identities and institutions is one of the current battlegrounds for understanding and redefining secularization. One of Ammerman's main questions was: what are the trade-offs of the different national models for incorporating immigrants? Are Haitians in Miami "ghettoized" into a Haitian neighborhood and Haitian church, as some of my informants in Canada and France remarked? Does the stronger state in France and Canada simply mean that immigrants there don't need as many mediating structures? My brief response to that is that the U.S. has a bottom-up approach to immigrant adaptation. That is, immigrants are left largely free to form their own ethnic, religious, and entrepreneurial associations. The French and Canadian government take a more active role in "integrating" immigrants. At times, the top-down approach in France and Canada means that certain kinds of immigrant associations, notably religious ones, can get excluded from the process. I argue that this is detrimental to immigrants' social mobility and feelings of inclusion in their new homes.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Phillip Connor of Princeton University introduces the panelists for the author-meets-critics session about my book at the Association for the Sociology of Religion meetings on Monday, August 10th, 2009. The panelists were (from left to right): Solange Lefebvre (University of Montreal), Nancy Ammerman (Boston University), and Omar McRoberts (University of Chicago).