Georges Woke Up Laughing Review By Kyle McCluskey

In Georges Woke Up Laughing, the ethnography was developed during a research trip in the year of 1996 that contains an ethnography based on ground field work in the country of Haiti. From there the study expanded on the process by which Haitian citizens immigrated to the United States and described how life was like during their time spent in their homeland to their experience in the United States. With Georges being a native born Haitian he was able to provide a detailed description that differentiated the third world life in contrast to a complete other progressed economic, political, and social first world. With Georges personal perspective creating a hands on understanding in such ways that allows the reader to retain a clear view on what life was like in both worlds, it assisted the field work research that both Fouron and professor Nina Schiller did in ways that made it more reliable. A research method that both authors executed involved interviews with Haitians within their homeland and those who immigrated to the United states. It constructed the study process of transnationalism and cross-border Haitian experiences. In order to attain this reliable research they had to understand the native language of Haiti. The language by which they studied was called Kreyol that holds both African and European background.

The novel does include some acceptable characteristics that hold a good student ethnography. By saying this for an example, the interviews that were done by both Georges and Nina Schiller fit the objective/goals in terms of achieving a solid focus in their research and writings. They both highlighted the steps for what it takes to create a traditional view with Haitians living in their homeland and in the United States. By describing both ways of life that includes extensive change on a socio-economic standpoint, Georges was capable of achieving this because of his qualitative research showed that globalization determines whether the people of Haiti will suffer through their crumbling economy or survive through it. If they are capable on successfully executing the process of immigration then they will no longer suffer such experiences.

Considering this novels contribution to a particular good audience, this ethnography would be targeted to individuals who require knowledge on immigration and a clear understanding on how the world works around them. Particularly these individuals would be ones who have acquired reliable knowledge that has been taught through post-secondary schools or other scholarly resources. Since the novel does hold many definitions that may be unfamiliar to those who have not studied in post-secondary institutions, it would be difficult to fully understand what exactly Georges is trying to research. Bringing up the topic on long distance nationalism, broader conversations concerning the act of immigration not only from Haiti but from other countries all over the world supposedly taking the jobs from American citizens. This notion that immigrants steal jobs in America or in any other country is completely irrational.

In David Edgington’s book review he states that “The effects of migration in terms of the demographic and economic characteristics of highly skilled migrant are then examined, as are the el-feces on the receiving countries’ labour markets, firms and workers, and on the migrant-sending states.” (Edgington 2002:465) In other words there will always be jobs no matter how big a population may be, it all comes down to who will work harder for the position and who will settle for what little opportunity there may be. If anything, Immigrants experience a tougher time for finding job opportunities in regards to oppression, discrimination, and other forms of unjust treatment in the social system. Globalization has made a negative impact for the process of Immigrants providing the sufficient funds that barely provide enough for them but let alone for their families back in their homeland. In regards to this novel, Georges focuses on the negative impacts and struggles that Haitian immigrants experience throughout a daily basis. But in the journal article that reviews the novel done by N’zengou and Marie, they state that “the financial support, migrants have to develop diplomatic skills so they do not sigh members of the family at home. Avoiding tension and friction is a skill that the migrant visiting home must master.” (N’Zengou & Marie 2002:129) Giving a clear example that both authors were successful in finding the link between Haitian families and their nation even through their oppressive experiences.



N’Zengou-Tayo, Marie-Jos. 2002. “Review: Georges Woke Up Laughing: Long-Distance Nationalism and the Search for Home by Nina Glick-Schiller; Georges Eugène Fouron” Caribbean Quarterly 48 (2): 128-132.

Edgington, D., Çinar, D., Dell’Olio, F. et al. Int. Migration & Integration (2002) 3


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