Cover of Survival of the Knitted by Vilna Francine Bashi Treitler
Survival of the Knitted
Immigrant Social Networks in a Stratified World
Vilna Francine Bashi Treitler

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2007
344 pages.
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Cloth ISBN: 9780804740890
Paper ISBN: 9780804740906

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Through this ethnography of West Indian social networks in New York, London, and the West Indies, Vilna Bashi shows how migrant life is patterned, structured, and regulated to provide critical financial and emotional support. She develops an important new general model of transnational immigrant network organization, the "hub and spoke" model, in which select veteran migrants (hubs) act as migration experts and send repeatedly for newcomers (spokes).

Survival of the Knitted details the ongoing importance of networks throughout the resettlement process. Network hubs use their connections and reputations to find jobs for immigrants and to influence their housing choices. They shape the migrants' experience of racial hierarchies and social stratification in a new country. As Bashi expertly shows, geographic mobility is a vehicle for socioeconomic and cultural mobility, but in ways more complex and network-dependent than the standard migration story would tell.

About the author

Vilna Francine Bashi Treitler's research examines the intersection of international migration and socioeconomic hierarchies. She is also the daughter of a hub.

"This ethnography of Caribbean migrants, their networks, their identity, and their ties to their place of origin is grounded in knowledge of theory and good empirical works . . . It is a fine example of multiple sited transnational field research that links the individual and social in global migration"

—Riva Berleant New West Indian Guide

"Survival of the Knitted delivers on its clever titles to make a significant contribution to the literature on migrant social networks... The main value of this book lies in its descriptions of how hubs and spokes work in daily practice and the implications of the distinction between them in the study of migrant networks."

American Journal of Sociology

"Until I read Vilna Bashi's work, I didn't fully appreciate how transnational social networks could be mobilized so dynamically by migrants in destination as well as origin communities. Her elucidation of the hub-and-spoke structure of destination-centered migrant networks represents a major advance in our understanding of international migration and the social structures that sustain it."

—Douglas S. Massey, Princeton University

"Survival of the Knitted is a welcome and brilliantly crafted account of the shifting experiences of generations of black Caribbean migrants. Drawing on a wealth of original research and reflection over a number of years it situates the stories of migrants and their families within a broader social, cultural and political environment. Vilna Bashi's account is powerfully written, has a clear conceptual framework and does not avoid vexed questions about race and ethnicity. The voices of generations of migrants are an integral component of the narrative. It is a wonderful book that raises important questions that will be of interest to both the specialist and the general reader."

—John Solomos, City University

"Overall, Bashi's Survival of the Knitted provides a comprehensive, compelling and original contribution to the field of international migration. By exposing the structure and functioning of the hub-and-spoke migrant social network, and connecting black migrants' life chances to systemic racism in the American social structure, Bashi introduces a fresh perspective that brilliantly captures the dynamic and complex process of migration in the United States."

—Zulema Valdez, Department of Sociology, Texas A&M University

"Unlke previous scholarly efforts that focus on race and ethnicity, Bashi's book, in providing a broad view of West Indian migration to the United States, Great Britain, and Canada, draws on a variety of theoretical perspectives and examines West Indian immigrants' social networks."

Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare