In reading The Transnational Villagers by Peggy Levitt (2001), I found myself interested in the exchange between the transnational village and the “home” village. Her study details the dual experiences of Miraflorenos in Miraflores, Dominican Republic, and in the Jamaica Plain area of Boston, Massachusetts. The success of the transnational migrant community in improving the community from which they hail is remarkable as it showcases the strength and possibility of creating connections across large distances. Despite the approximately 1,600 miles that separate the two places, their connection to the other community seems far more tangible than merely a shared community heritage. “Instead of loosening their connections and trading one membership for another, some individuals are keeping their feet in both worlds” (132). This exemplifies the existence of transnational villages; they do not necessarily give up their home culture to adopt the culture of a foreign one but instead, negotiate with the space they are given to make it into a place that has meaning to their transnational identity.
The communities exist in a symbiosis: Miraflores is replicated to the extent that the Bostonian context allows it while Boston sends not just economic remittances back to Miraflores but social remittances as well. Through this exchange, the communities of Miraflores and Jamaica Plain begin to share cultural commodities that exist because of this transnational relationship. The fact that “[Miraflores] villagers often dress in T-shirts emblazoned with the names of businesses” while Jamaica Plain immigrants adorn their “refrigerators with the same plastic fruit magnets they
used in Miraflores” shows how cultural icons, even those of consumerism, spread between these separated communities much more easily with these transnational channels. The movement of bodies and ideas between places has never been easier. Miraflores sees much of its relative prosperity due to its strong transnational connection through the Miraflores Development Committee which due to its successes, has legitimacy as an organization that many other institutions do not have.
One of the major questions I wish to explore is the effect of internet on the construction and maintenance of these transnational villages. Certainly, the ubiquity of the internet today has rapidly increased transnational communication, helping migrants maintain more tangible connections to communities thousands of miles away. In Miraflores and Jamaica Plain, I would like to see how the Miraflores Development Committee has adapted to the transnational internet and how the relationship between the two places may have changed due to the increase in communication and internet availability. With access to internet becoming more and more common, these two locations have an even greater ability to interact and affect daily life despite the geographic separation. With this sort of transnational community structure, I have to wonder if there is a trend towards homogenization, polarization, or some other transformation of their current relationship.