Generally, people immigrate to a certain country where they experience different levels of adaptation and integration within their new host country. There are few places in the world where this process of de-socialization and re-socialization of immigrants simultaneously takes place in more than one host state. “Home on both sides of the Border” is a postdoctoral socio-historical and comparative study that examines the additional and particular challenges that Muslim immigrants have faced in international trans-border cities across the Southern Cone of Latin America in recent decades.
The research consists of a two-part comparative study. The first examines the Muslim-Lebanese community living in the “Triple Frontier” region of the cities of Ciudad del Este (Paraguay) and Foz do Iguaçu (Brazil), and two other, lesser-known, concentrations of Lebanese in adjacent cities along the Brazil-Paraguay and Paraguay-Argentina borders: Ponta Porã-P. J. Caballero, and Encarnación-Posadas, respectively. The second part of the study compares these three Muslim-Lebanese communities with Muslim-Palestinian communities who have inhabited three pairs of cities across Uruguayan-Brazilian border (Artigas-Quaraí/Chuy-Chui/Rivera-Santana do Livremento), which share no more than a street as an international border.
Such a study promotes a trans-regional, multidisciplinary and analytically rigorous focus on the integration strategies of immigrants in their host societies while engaging transnational interactions with homeland societies. Drawing upon what I call “dual transnational identities,” I show how Muslims and their descendants in these trans-border cities have managed to reconcile two sets of transnational identities: a) The transatlantic identity—based on the complex relationship of origin and destination, and b) the local identity which incorporates constant negotiation with the two discrete political, judicial, and cultural spheres in which they live – on both sides of an international border.