Exiled Home

Salvadoran Transnational Youth in the Aftermath of Violence

Exiled Home

Global Insecurities

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Book Pages: 288 Illustrations: 8 photographs Published: May 2016

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Chicanx and Latinx Studies, Sociology > Migration Studies

In Exiled Home, Susan Bibler Coutin recounts the experiences of Salvadoran children who migrated with their families to the United States during the 1980–1992 civil war. Because of their youth and the violence they left behind, as well as their uncertain legal status in the United States, many grew up with distant memories of El Salvador and a profound sense of disjuncture in their adopted homeland. Through interviews in both countries, Coutin examines how they sought to understand and overcome the trauma of war and displacement through such strategies as recording community histories, advocating for undocumented immigrants, forging new relationships with the Salvadoran state, and, for those deported from the United States, reconstructing their lives in El Salvador. In focusing on the case of Salvadoran youth, Coutin’s nuanced analysis shows how the violence associated with migration can be countered through practices that recuperate historical memory while also reclaiming national membership.


"Exiled Home constitutes a timely and sophisticated scholarly piece that entails a thorough methodological discussion and makes for fascinating reading. By placing deportation within an institutional and policy context and considering the experiences of undocumented immigrants raised in or deported from the host country, the book complements an existing literature that is largely concerned with the reasons for migration, the situation of adult immigrants, and the impact of remittances. The work makes an impassioned plea to legalize youths who are US citizens in all but immigration status and should prove of interest in both academic and policy circles." — Sonja Wolf, International Migration Review

"At a time when more people than ever are being displaced from their homelands, Coutin’s vivid, youth-centered analysis offers a potent and instructive understanding both of those who migrate and of those who are exiled home." — Ruth Gomberg-Muñoz, American Anthropologist

"An illuminating example of how to effectively and creatively mesh theory with qualitative data. . . . A carefully crafted, humane portrayal of the broad-ranging and common experiences of Salvadoran migrant children living in the United States and those violently reinserted in El Salvador." — Shirley A. Heying, Journal of Anthropological Research

“In reading Exiled Home, one becomes a witness to lives mostly unseen and violence mostly unknown.” — Erin Hamilton, American Journal of Sociology

"Exiled Home is a testament to many things—the importance of ?eldwork, the signi?cance of critical thought, the power of political participation—but the book also evidences the gift of longstanding ethnographic engagements." — Kevin Lewis O'Neill, Anthropological Quarterly

"Valuable for scholars and general audiences interested in immigration, activism, and Latinx youth." — Stephanie M. Huezo, Chiricú Journal

"Susan B. Coutin’s very catchy yet reflexive and professional style of writing carries the reader along the routes and lives of the Salvadoran transnational youth, trying to find their place in the U.S., El Salvador, and the gap in between. Furthermore, the stories of her interviewees illustrate how nations, boundaries and identities are only constructions used to dismember and criminalise people." — Lisa Duczmal, Anthropological Notebooks

"For anyone wishing to understand what is at stake with the cancelation of TPS and DACA, the proposed changes to make asylum even harder to get, or the waves of caravans coming out of Central America, [Exiled Home] is essential. It will be useful and timely for courses from any discipline on immigration as well as political and legal anthropology." — Amelia Frank-Vitale, Border Criminologies

"Focusing on Salvadoran migration, the book not only shows that Central American migration to the US is not new, but also that Salvadorans’ migratory experience is characterized by different forms of violence and uncertainty that are not bounded to national territories or categories. Exiled Home contributes to understanding how Salvadoran youth migrants expand what it means to be Salvadoran and American." — Lurio Gutiérrez Rivera, Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology

Exiled Home is an invaluable text, in which Susan Bibler Coutin builds upon her decades of critical ethnographic engagement with the Salvadoran diaspora to produce a theoretically rich and textured analysis of the children and youth who migrated with their families to the United States during the Salvadoran civil war (1980-92).” — Irina Carlota Silber, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"In Exiled Home, Susan Bibler Coutin provides an invaluable conceptual map of how the contemporary U.S. legal regime reshapes immigrants' lives across contexts and geographies. The analytic lens of violence allows her to excavate the ripple effects of living in tenuous legality, weaving analysis and narrative and moving deftly between personal biography and structures to bring out the perspective of immigrant youth that often goes unregistered. This superb account contributes immensely to scholarship by adding insight, voices, visibility, and humanity. A must-read!"  — Cecilia Menjívar, Foundation Distinguished Professor of Sociology, University of Kansas

"Exiled Home breaks your heart, then reassembles the pieces with insights, understandings, outrage, and determination. Anthropologist Susan Bibler Coutin has worked with Salvadoran refugees and their children for over thirty years. Here, she dwells with the 1.5 and 2 generations, in the United States and as deportees. Their voices are eloquent, some stories shocking. No one crosses the border in either direction once and for all, but there is no going back from what we learn here."  — Carol J. Greenhouse, author of The Paradox of Relevance: Ethnography and Citizenship in the United States


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Susan Bibler Coutin is Professor of Criminology, Law and Society and Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of Nations of Emigrants: Shifting Boundaries of Citizenship in El Salvador and the United StatesLegalizing Moves: Salvadoran Immigrants’ Struggle for U.S. Residency; and The Culture of Protest: Religious Activism and the U.S. Sanctuary Movement.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix

Introduction  1

1. Violence and Silence  21

2. Living in the Gap  55

3. Dreams  95

4. Exiled Home through Deportation  129

5. Biographies and Nations  165

Conclusion. Re/membering Exiled Homes  205

Appendix  227

Notes  231

References  241

Index  265
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Winner, UC Irvine Social Ecology Deans Inclusive Excellence Award for Research

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6163-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6144-2