Transborder Lives: Indigenous Oaxacans in Mexico, California, and Oregon

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Duke University Press, May 23, 2007 - Social Science - 375 pages
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Lynn Stephen’s innovative ethnography follows indigenous Mexicans from two towns in the state of Oaxaca—the Mixtec community of San Agustín Atenango and the Zapotec community of Teotitlán del Valle—who periodically leave their homes in Mexico for extended periods of work in California and Oregon. Demonstrating that the line separating Mexico and the United States is only one among the many borders that these migrants repeatedly cross (including national, regional, cultural, ethnic, and class borders and divisions), Stephen advocates an ethnographic framework focused on transborder, rather than transnational, lives. Yet she does not disregard the state: She assesses the impact migration has had on local systems of government in both Mexico and the United States as well as the abilities of states to police and affect transborder communities.

Stephen weaves the personal histories and narratives of indigenous transborder migrants together with explorations of the larger structures that affect their lives. Taking into account U.S. immigration policies and the demands of both commercial agriculture and the service sectors, she chronicles how migrants experience and remember low-wage work in agriculture, landscaping, and childcare and how gender relations in Oaxaca and the United States are reconfigured by migration. She looks at the ways that racial and ethnic hierarchies inherited from the colonial era—hierarchies that debase Mexico’s indigenous groups—are reproduced within heterogeneous Mexican populations in the United States. Stephen provides case studies of four grass-roots organizations in which Mixtec migrants are involved, and she considers specific uses of digital technology by transborder communities. Ultimately Stephen demonstrates that transborder migrants are reshaping notions of territory and politics by developing creative models of governance, education, and economic development as well as ways of maintaining their cultures and languages across geographic distances.

  

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Contents

Approaches to Transborder Lives
1
Transborder Communities in Political and Historical Context VIEWS FROM OAXACA
35
Mexicans in California and Oregon
63
Transborder Labor Lives HARVESTING HOUSECLEANING GARDENING AND CHILDCARE
95
Surveillance and Invisibility in the Lives of Indigenous Farmworkers in Oregon
143
Womens Transborder Lives GENDER RELATIONS IN WORK AND FAMILIES
178
Navigating the Borders of Racial and Ethnic Hierarchies
209
Grassroots Organizing in Transborder Lives
231
Transborder Ethnic Identity Construction in Life and on the Net EMAIL AND WEB PAGE CONSTRUCTION AND USE
274
CONCLUSIONS
309
Notes on Collaborative Research
321
NOTES
327
WORKS CITED
335
INDEX
359
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Page 340 - Placed-based imagination: Globalism and the politics of place. In Places and Politics in an Age of Globalisation, ed.

About the author (2007)

Lynn Stephen is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the University of Oregon. She is the author of Zapotec Women: Gender, Class, and Ethnicity in Globalized Oaxaca, also published by Duke University Press; Zapata Lives! Histories and Cultural Politics in Southern Mexico; and Women and Social Movements in Latin America: Power from Below.

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