WHAT THEY LEARNED: Marla Dominguez ’14

WHAT THEY LEARNED: Marla Dominguez ’14

The subject of Marla Dominguez’s history thesis— “From Migrants in a ‘Host Country’ to Transnational Permanence: Dominicans in New York City, 1965 – 2000”—wasn’t just an academic interest; it was inspired by her own family.

“I knew ever since I matriculated [at] Haverford that my thesis would be about Dominicans,” she says. “My family immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic during the early 1990s, and I felt that was an important part of history that I did not know much about in depth. I did not really understand what factors pushed and pulled Dominican migrants to the United States.”


How did your thesis advisor help you develop your topic, conduct your research, and/or interpret your results?

I had the help of my first reader, [Haverford Professor] James Krippner, and my second reader, [Swarthmore Associate Professor] Diego Armus. Both readers helped to boil down my thesis to the central argument that I wanted to prove: Dominicans, although a transnational presence in New York City, have made several strides to build permanency in the United States while maintaining their connection to their homeland. Krippner and I met once a week, working on building from my primary sources. Armus helped me find the crux of my argument when I took his course “Cities of (Im)migrants,” where I began to notice that many scholars still referred to the United States as a host country when addressing Dominican immigrants. Armus also helped in deciphering what were crucial elements that were to be incorporated into my thesis in order to address how Dominicans have created permanency in New York City.

What is your biggest takeaway from the project?

My biggest takeaway from this project was learning how much work has been published by Dominican scholars already. I got to work with other Dominican scholars in the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, and it was such a rewarding experience… I was funded by the Center of Peace and Global Citizenship to continue my research at the Institute and was able to work alongside other scholars well-versed in Dominican history.

How or why could your research help other researchers or academics, if at all?

I want academics to move away from the notion that Dominicans are in a host country when referring to immigrants in New York City. Dominicans have formed permanent institutions and have changed public policies in the New York, while maintaining connections to the Dominican Republic. However, it is also important to note the growing second generation of Dominicans that remain in the United States. The term ‘host” country is outdated and simply paints Dominican immigrants as a temporary group in the United States,


Image courtesy of the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute.

“What They Learned” is a blog series exploring the thesis work of members of the Class of 2014.  


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