Interviews with 27 Americans living in the city of Buenos Aires
For my Master’s Degree in International Migration Policy at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, I did a case study of 27 Americans living in Buenos Aires for my final thesis, and I’m publishing a lot of my findings on this blog
After extensively studying the available bibliography on the topic of Americans leaving the United States and moving to Buenos Aires, Argentina (news articles, blogs, forums, academic papers, statistical reports and books), I came up with some general hypotheses:
- Who are these American expats in Buenos Aires?
- What motivated their decision to to leave the United States and migrate to Buenos Aires?
- What is there experience as an expat/migrant in terms of their reception by the local host population, sociocultural integration, work insertion and residency situation?
- What is their self-perception in terms of their identity as an expat/migrant and the impact they think they’re having on the countries/cities involved? What terminology do they use to self-identify?
- What are their plans for the future in terms of their stay in Buenos Aires, return to the United States or plans to go elsewhere?
In order to answer these questions I formulated an interview questionnaire and used it in 27 semi-structured interviews with Americans that reside in Buenos Aires.
Interview Selection Criteria
The criteria used to select these Americans was as follows: born and raised in the United States, between the ages of 24 and 49 years old (in order to focus on the trend of young American workers abroad), residing in the city of Buenos Aires (in order to focus on the urban trend) for at least 1 year (to exclude tourists), and at the most 10 years (to maintain the contemporary character of the study).
So, how and where did I find these 27 Americans to interview? About a third of them came from my own social networks in Buenos Aires, another third through public forum posts on craigslist.com and baexpats.com, and the final third were referred by other participants.
Other than a pair of roommates and a married couple, all the interviews were done individually. Usually we would meet in a café or restaurant near their home or work, or sometimes I was invited into their homes for the interviews.
Studying a population you have everything in common with (I myself fit all of the criteria of my participants) is an interesting investigative approach called “anthropology at home” and can provide an automatic trust between the interviewer and the interviewee, allowing for frank and sincere responses, and deeper conversations.