Cover of A Place to Call Home by Ernesto Castañeda
A Place to Call Home
Immigrant Exclusion and Urban Belonging in New York, Paris, and Barcelona
Ernesto Castañeda


208 pages.
from $26.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503604780
Paperback ISBN: 9781503605763
Ebook ISBN: 9781503605770

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Winner of the 2020 William M. LeoGrande Award, sponsored by The School of Public Affairs and the Center for Latin American and Latino Studies at American University.

As immigrants settle in new places, they are faced with endless uncertainties that prevent them from feeling that they belong. From language barriers, to differing social norms, to legal boundaries separating them from established residents, they are constantly navigating shifting and contradictory expectations both to assimilate to their new culture and to honor their native one. In A Place to Call Home, Ernesto Castañeda offers a uniquely comparative portrait of immigrant expectations and experiences. Drawing on fourteen years of ethnographic observation and hundreds of interviews with documented and undocumented immigrants and their children, Castañeda sets out to determine how different locations can aid or disrupt the process of immigrant integration. Focusing on New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—immigration hubs in their respective countries—he compares the experiences of both Latino and North African migrants, and finds that subjective understandings, local contexts, national and regional history, and religious institutions are all factors that profoundly impact the personal journey to belonging.

About the author

Ernesto Castañeda is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the American University in Washington, DC.

"Based on extensive fieldwork in three immigrant-receiving cities, this book provides a rich first-hand look at how immigrants adapt and react to different contexts of reception and how these contexts affect long-term outcomes for their foreign-origin populations. A valuable and original contribution to the study of immigration and ethnicity."

—Alejandro Portes, Princeton University

"This brilliant transnational ethnography illuminates how immigrants constantly negotiate their host communities and their native ones. An astounding fourteen years of painstaking fieldwork provide a one-of-a-kind look at the lives of undocumented and documented immigrants within international, national, and community contexts. This social science masterpiece provides a definitive analysis on what must be done to improve the integration process for vulnerable immigrant populations."

—Victor M. Rios, University of California, Santa Barbara

"A Place to Call Home deepens our knowledge of how place matters in shaping immigrant integration. This book is an important contribution to the study of immigration and cities and leads to more interesting questions...The insights uncovered by this work have important implications for designing better policy for welcoming immigrants into cities."––Jackelyn Hwang, American Journal of Sociology

"[Castañeda] develops a rich dialogue between prior research, survey respondents, and ethnographic insights for each city. A Place to Call Home will make an appealing addition to undergraduate or graduate courses in sociology, politics, immigration, citizenship, religion, and ethnic studies."–– Stephen P. Ruszczyk, Sociological Forum