Pakistani immigrant organisational spaces in Toronto and New York City

Luis E. Guarnizo, and Ali R. Chaudhary
Published in
Journal for Ethnic and Migration Studies (2016)

This study examines how ‘contexts of reception’ in two migrant cities shape the organisational infrastructure for Pakistani immigrant communities in Toronto and New York City (NYC). Previous research is divided into two epistemic camps, one focusing on locally oriented organisations promoting settlement/incorporation and the other on transnational organisations—thus obscuring the relationships between these organisations. The present study transcends this division by examining how the combined effect of state policies, socioeconomic incorporation, community characteristics and societal attitudes shape the composition and geographical orientation of an immigrant group’s collective organisational space—comprised of local and transnationally oriented organisations. Data come from a newly constructed database of Pakistani non-profit organisations based in Toronto and NYC and from qualitative research conducted in both cities. Contrary to our expectations and previous research, we find that state-sponsored multiculturalism in Toronto is not associated with a larger or more transnationally oriented organisational space. Rather, it is the affluence of the Pakistani community in NYC that is associated with the larger and more transnational of the two Pakistani organisational spaces. Findings also reveal tensions between local and transnationally oriented organisations in both cities, reflecting a growing fragmentation between affluent cosmopolitan immigrant elites and the impoverished segments of Toronto and NYC Pakistani communities.