The colonial legacies of migration studies: Overlooking the racialized and gendered geographies of Mexico/U.S. migration

Authors: Holly Worthen*, Universidad Autonoma Benito Juarez de Oaxaca
Topics: Migration, Ethnicity and Race, Indigenous Peoples
Keywords: gender, migration studies, indigenous studies, Mexico
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/9/2020
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Governors Square 9, Sheraton, Concourse Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Studies of Mexican migration to the United States emphasize rural men as the quintessential migrant protagonists. While historically men have made up the majority of migrant flows, in this presentation, I challenge the image of the predominantly male, non-ethnic migrant subject. To do so, I draw on ethnographic research with indigenous Mexican women who established migrant networks in the United States starting in the 1960s. I argue that the story of these women is not an anomaly within U.S./Mexican migration patterns, but rather a case study indicative of a broader blindness to questions of gender and ethnicity within migration research. I argue that this is in part due to the way overlapping colonialities have shaped U.S./Mexican research agendas. One the one hand, settler-colonial logics within academic disciplines in the United States have overlooked the existence of indigenous peoples; on the other, legacies of colonialism and nationalism within Mexico collapsed indigenous peoples into the broad category of peasant. Combined, they have failed to explore how gendered and racialized political economies have importantly shaped U.S/Mexican migration.

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