Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

"The Bombs that Drop in El Salvador Explode in Mount Pleasant": From Cold War Conflagration to Immigrant Struggles in Washington, DC, 1970–1995
by Scallen, Patrick Daniel, Ph.D., Georgetown University, 2019, 275; 27670053
Abstract (Summary)

This study charts the rise of metropolitan Washington, DC’s largest immigrant population from its roots in the post-war international economy through the end of the Salvadoran civil war (1980–1992). It traces Salvadorans as they migrated from a country wracked by economic disparity, social inequality, dashed democratic hopes, and government-perpetrated mass killings to the capital of the foreign nation most responsible for the conditions they fled. Part of the Latino immigrant community in the District of Columbia that emerged as Washington became the capital of world capitalism following World War II, Salvadorans had carved out a space for themselves as a small but notable ethnic minority when civil war erupted, displacing hundreds of thousands of their countryfolk. Those who survived the journey to the United States were subsequently denied refugee status by the Reagan administration, which was bent on casting the Salvadoran conflict in Cold War terms. Salvadoran immigrants to Washington, DC were thus forced to take the lowest-paying menial jobs and faced broad racial, ethnic, and legal discrimination as they struggled to gain a foothold in their new surroundings.

This investigation probes how Salvadorans labored to survive and craft community in the nation’s capital during the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s. It analyzes the impact of US immigration policies on Salvadorans, particularly on those without legal documentation. It then moves on to describe how exiled Salvadoran opposition members forged links with North American religious leaders, politicians, and community members in the Sanctuary movement and Central American solidarity movement, giving birth to agencies that protected Salvadoran immigrants from deportation and fought for their civil rights. The study explores the relationship between Washington, DC’s burgeoning Latino population and its African American majority, examining racial tensions on the street, in public schools, and at city hall. It then shifts to the urban unrest that rocked DC’s multiethnic neighborhood of Mt. Pleasant in early 1991, sparked by a policewoman’s shooting of a Salvadoran man. The dissertation closes with an appraisal of Latino activism in the aftermath of the Mt. Pleasant riots within the broader context of rapid social and economic change in the national capital region.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Tutino, John, McCartin, Joseph
Commitee: McCann, Bryan
School: Georgetown University
Department: History
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 81/7(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Hispanic American studies, Ethnic studies, Latin American history
Keywords: Black/Latino relations, Civil rights, El Salvador, Immigration, Sanctuary movement, Washington, D.C.
Publication Number: 27670053
ISBN: 9781392622605
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