Migration and paraethnography in Honduras

by Daniel Reichman

I analyze emigration from Honduras to the United States through the lens of the anthropology of knowledge. Whereas Honduran nonmigrants describe migration as a personal choice, migrants claim to be motivated by generalized social forces. Relatively abstract and systematic explanations of migration exemplify what Douglas Holmes and George Marcus call “paraethnographies,” forms of ethnography found within the discourse of the subjects of ethnographic research. Paraethnography has been employed in other settings to show how people use context-dependent information to challenge abstract models of behavior, but, here, it contextualizes the particular within the general, performing an opposite function than that described by Holmes and Marcus.