Different paths, same destination United States-bound Nicaraguan and Cuban migration in a comparative perspective

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


International Studies

First Committee Member

William C. Smith - Committee Chair


This dissertation focuses on a systematic comparison of the process of U.S.-bound migration from Nicaragua and Cuba. A number of key issues are explored, including: the historical determinants of the respective exoduses; migration trends; the sociodemographic characteristics of the migrants; the contexts of reception for both groups; their modes of incorporation into the receiving society (emphasizing the Miami labor market); the emergence of transnational networks between the sending societies and the United States; and the transnational activities developed by the migrants, particularly economic transnationalism among Nicaraguans.Contrasting these two migration processes resulting from major revolutions in the Western hemisphere, this study contributes to filling a significant research lacunae in the existing literature. Theoretically, the dissertation sheds light on both general causes as well as the revolution-specific determinants of emigration from Latin America to the United States in recent decades. It also explores the impact of migration on both the sending societies and the receiving. This analysis highlights the elements of continuity and rupture exhibited by the two societies undergoing revolutionary transformation with respect to U.S.-bound migration and how the dialectics between continuity and rupture shaped the modes of incorporation of the two immigrant groups into the US. society.In order to grasp more precisely the historical characteristics of the process of U.S.-bound Nicaraguan migration compared to the Cuban, the dissertation advances several refinements of the existing theoretical literature. In this respect, for example, it is argued that the predominant mode of incorporation of Nicaraguans into the Miami labor market has resulted in the creation of a working class-entrepreneurial community. Similarly, the study found that the principal entrepreneurial trajectory followed by Nicaraguans in Miami has led to the emergence of what is labeled here a "proto-enclave," the main characteristics of which are described using anecdotal evidence as well as an array of statistical data.In a broader perspective, the dissertation challenges the ahistorical approach to the notion of "periphery" by illustrating how Nicaragua and Cuba---both considered as peripheral societies in the social science literature---developed distinct modes of articulation with the world-economy and the world state system and how such a distinctive linkage molded their respective migration histories, including the specific process of U.S.-bound migration.


Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies; Sociology, Demography

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