Gringolandia

Lifestyle Migration under Late Capitalism

2018
Author:

Matthew Hayes

A telling look at today’s “reverse” migration of white, middle-class expats from north to south, through the lens of one South American city

Even as the “migration crisis” from the Global South to the Global North rages on, another, lower-key and yet important migration has been gathering pace in recent years—that of mostly white, middle-class people moving in the opposite direction. Focusing on North Americans relocating to Cuenca, Ecuador Gringolandia is that rare book to consider this phenomenon in all its complexity.

Matthew Hayes provides a vivid sociological portrayal of North Americans living in Ecuador alongside a theoretically sophisticated analysis of the global inequalities that shape growing north-south migration. Gringolandia is a must-read for students and scholars interested in a complex understanding of transnational migration in the context of 21st century globalization.

Sheila Croucher, author of The Other Side of the Fence: American Migrants in Mexico

Even as the “migration crisis” from the Global South to the Global North rages on, another, lower-key and yet important migration has been gathering pace in recent years—that of mostly white, middle-class people moving in the opposite direction. Gringolandia is that rare book to consider this phenomenon in all its complexity.

Matthew Hayes focuses on North Americans relocating to Cuenca, Ecuador, the country’s third-largest city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many began relocating there after the 2008 economic crisis. Most are self-professed “economic refugees” who sought offshore retirement, affordable medical care, and/or a lower–cost location. Others, however, sought adventure marked by relocation to an unfamiliar cultural environment and to experience personal growth through travel, illustrative of contemporary cultures of aging. These life projects are often motivated by a desire to escape economic and political conditions in North America.

Regardless of their individual motivations, Hayes argues, such North–South migrants remain embedded in unequal and unfair global social relations. He explores the repercussions on the host country—from rising prices for land and rent to the reproduction of colonial patterns of domination and subordination. In Ecuador, heritage preservation and tourism development reflect the interests and culture of European-descendent landowning elites, who have most to benefit from the new North–South migration. In the process, they participate in transnational gentrification that marginalizes popular traditions and nonwhite mestizo and indigenous informal workers. The contrast between the migration experiences of North Americans in Ecuador and those of Ecuadorians or others from such regions of the Global South in North America and Europe demonstrates that, in fact, what we face is not so much a global “migration crisis” but a crisis of global social justice.

Matthew Hayes is the Canada Research Chair in Global and International Studies at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

Matthew Hayes provides a vivid sociological portrayal of North Americans living in Ecuador alongside a theoretically sophisticated analysis of the global inequalities that shape growing north-south migration. Gringolandia is a must-read for students and scholars interested in a complex understanding of transnational migration in the context of 21st century globalization.

Sheila Croucher, author of The Other Side of the Fence: American Migrants in Mexico

Gringolandia offers a refreshing and powerful new perspective on lifestyle migration that demonstrates how it is caught up in the production of global inequalities informed by colonial legacies, the structures and practice of planetary gentrification, and the local class struggles this portends. Through his up-close ethnographic observations of the lives and motivations of North Americans living in Ecuador, Matthew Hayes presents a timely and sorely needed intervention that straddles the sociology of migration and urban studies, woven together through a deep concern with decoloniality.

Michaela Benson, Goldsmiths, University of London

The author should be commended for undertaking research on a type of migration different from the mainstream and for the excellent combination of ethnographic, historical, policy and political economy perspectives to show that all migrations are instances of social inequality.

City & Society

Gringolandia is definitely the first book to consider the phenomenon of mostly white, middle-class people moving from the global North to the global South, but also one of the few that analyses this subject under this postmodern approach.

Journal of Latin American Studies

Gringolandia provides astute descriptive detail on migrants, the web of organizations marketing Ecuador as a destination, displaced Ecuadorian workers, and the effects of heritage-oriented economic development, which brings with it increased property values, higher rents, and large-scale projects requiring loans that shackle Ecuador to the global economy.

CHOICE

The book is not only about expats but also about political economy and whiteness. It is a captivating read and a solid contribution to the migration, global inequality, and race literatures.

Contemporary Sociology

This book is valuable for numerous reasons. It shows many of the complexities of North-South migration, including the multiple causes of migration, how transnational communication technologies are vital to contemporary international migration, and most importantly how unacknowledged but persistent inequalities can shape the trajectory of migration and its outcomes.

Journal of Cultural Geography

Gringolandia is a compelling ethnography of the mixed social life of a migrant enclave in Cuenca, but it is also a valuable critical reflection upon the strained social life of aging North Americans under late capitalism.

Anthropologica

Introduction


1. Geoarbitrage and the Offshoring of Retirement


2. Migrant Imaginaries


3. Gringo Identities


4. Transforming the City


5. The Hacienda


6. Lifestyle Migration, Transnational Gentrification and Social Justice


Acknowledgments


Appendix: Methodology


Notes


Bibliography


Index