South Africa, China, India, and other industrializing countries are receiving increasing numbers of frontier heritage migrants—those who were raised in “First World” countries like the United States and who are now moving to their ancestral ethnic homelands. The primary aim of this article is to offer a conceptual definition of (frontier) heritage migration to interrogate its ability to illuminate the rapid shifts wrought by neoliberal globalization and to illustrate why it is imperative to redefine “economy” in broader cultural terms, rethinking it as the global ethnic economy. Drawing on semistructured in-depth interviews with heritage migrants to the new South Africa and scholarly and media accounts documenting this trend to other emerging economies such as Ghana and Vietnam, the article analyzes how Asian and African heritage migrants from Euro-America mobilize their First World cultural capital and their ethnic heritage to seek out opportunities in their globalizing ancestral homelands. The narrations by and about these heritage migrants contribute to a changing global imaginary in the post–Cold War world in which race and ethnicity function as both push and pull factors for these migrants.
Frontier Heritage Migration in the Global Ethnic Economy
Melissa Tandiwe Myambo is a research associate at the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is the recipient of a Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Award to conduct research in India, where she is based at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in Delhi.
Melissa Tandiwe Myambo; Frontier Heritage Migration in the Global Ethnic Economy. Public Culture 1 May 2017; 29 (2 (82)): 261–285. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-3749057
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