Negotiating the Transnationality of Social Control: Stories of Immigrant Women in South Florida


  • Robin Cooper Nova Southeastern University
  • J. P. Linstroth Nova Southeastern University
  • Julia Chaitin Sapir Academic College



social control, transnational, dominating discourse, controlling processes, women immigrants, honor and shame


Historically, young women have been the object of social control, often in the name of filial honor. This article addresses a particular phenomenon of such social control as it is experienced by first- and second-generation female immigrants from Cuba and Haiti who are living in South Florida in the United States. This theme is explored by analyzing the life stories of six immigrants from these countries. The biographical stories of immigrant women reveal how social control operates in the context of transnationalism through controlling processes, internalization of gender expectations, and dominating discourse. It is also argued how social control manipulates and restricts female spaces and operates across spaces in a transnational manner from homelands to host nations. The main conclusion of the study is that a family's relocation to the United States for the purpose of political, social, or economic freedom does not necessarily result in liberation from restrictive social control for young women from such immigrant families. The "transnationality of social control" is therefore understood as the hegemonic domination of female bodies and behaviors through the mimesis of reified and remembered spaces of homelands in host societies. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0903142


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Author Biographies

Robin Cooper, Nova Southeastern University

Robin COOPER is a Doctoral Candidate at the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of Conflict Analysis and Resolution, Nova Southeastern University. She is also an Adjunct Professor in the Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences at Nova Southeastern University. In her dissertation, Robin explores constructions of ethnic and national identity for members of the national ethnic majority experiencing the transition to a "majority-minority" community. She is a co-investigator in an ongoing international study on ethnicity and sense of belonging among refugee and immigrant populations in the United States. Her research and teaching interests include conflict resolution, ethnicity, human rights, nationalism, migration, gender, social control, culture and conflict, and qualitative research.

J. P. Linstroth, Nova Southeastern University

J.P. LINSTROTH obtained his D.Phil. in social anthropology from the University of Oxford. Most of his research is concerned with understanding ethnic-minority groups, whether Spanish-Basques, Cuban, Haitian, or Guatemalan-Maya immigrants in the US, or urban Amerindians in Brazil. He was co-awarded an Alexander Von Humboldt Grant (2005-2007) to study immigrant identity in South Florida and has recently been awarded a Fulbright Foreign Scholar Grant (2008-2009) as a visiting professor at the Universidade Federal do Amazonas (UFAM) and for fieldwork amongst urban Amerindians in Manaus, Brazil. He has published several scholarly articles and has two forthcoming books, titled respectively: Marching Against Gender Practice: political imaginings in the Basqueland; and, Violence and Peace Re-Imagined: a new interdisciplinary theory for cognitive anthropology. Currently, he is Assistant Professor of Conflict Resolution and Anthropology at Nova Southeastern University.

Julia Chaitin, Sapir Academic College

Julia CHAITIN, Ph.D. is a social psychologist, with an expertise in conflict resolution and peace-building. Her research focuses on psychosocial impacts of the Holocaust and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. She is a Senior Lecturer in the Social Work Department at the Sapir College, and a member of The Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development and "Other Voice"—peace and social justice organizations.




How to Cite

Cooper, R., Linstroth, J. P., & Chaitin, J. (2009). Negotiating the Transnationality of Social Control: Stories of Immigrant Women in South Florida. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 10(3).