Women and Migration in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

A Reader

Women and Migration in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

Latin America Otherwise

More about this series

Book Pages: 616 Illustrations: 11 illustrations, 12 tables, 5 graphs Published: July 2007

Chicanx and Latinx Studies, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Latin American Studies > Mexico

Women’s migration within Mexico and from Mexico to the United States is increasing; nearly as many women as men are migrating. This development gives rise to new social negotiations, which have not been well examined in migration studies until now. This pathbreaking reader analyzes how economically and politically displaced migrant women assert agency in everyday life. Scholars across diverse disciplines interrogate the socioeconomic forces that propel Mexican women into the migrant stream and shape their employment options; the changes that these women are making in homes, families, and communities; and the “structural violence” that they confront in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands broadly conceived—all within the economic, social, cultural, and political interstices of the two countries.

This reader includes twenty-three essays—two of which are translated from the Spanish—that illuminate women’s engagement with diverse social and cultural challenges. One contributor critiques the statistical fallacy of nativist discourses within the United States that portray Chicana and Mexican women’s fertility rates as “out of control.” Other contributors explore the relation between sexual violence and women’s migration from rural areas to urban centers within Mexico, the ways that undocumented migrant communities challenge conventional notions of citizenship, and young Latinas’ commemorations of the late, internationally renowned singer Selena. Several essays address workplace intimidation and violence, harassment and rape by U.S. border patrol agents and maquiladora managers, sexual violence, and the brutal murders of nearly two hundred young women near Ciudad Juárez. This rich collection highlights both the structural inequities faced by Mexican women in the borderlands and the creative ways they have responded to them.

Contributors. Ernestine Avila, Xóchitl Castañeda, Sylvia Chant, Leo R. Chavez, Cynthia Cranford, Adelaida R. Del Castillo, Sylvanna M. Falcón, Gloria González-López, Maria de la Luz Ibarra, Jonathan Xavier Inda, Rosa Linda Fregoso, Jennifer S. Hirsch, Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo, Eithne Luibheid, Victoria Malkin, Faranak Miraftab, Olga Nájera-Ramírez, Norma Ojeda de la Peña, Deborah Paredez, Leslie Salzinger, Felicity Schaeffer-Grabiel, Denise A. Segura, Laura Velasco Ortiz, Melissa W. Wright, Patricia Zavella


“[A] worthy and much-needed contribution to debates about women, gender, and migration in the borderlands, which, as the editors point out, remains understudied, displaced, or at times simply ignored. Also notable is the interdisciplinary nature of the compilation, which brings a number of significant contributions into a shared space and thus sets a precedent for further interdisciplinary dialogue. . . . The interdisciplinary mix makes the book attractive to a variety of academic fields such as political science and international relations, Chicana/o studies, Latin American and Latino studies, border studies, sociology, and human geography . . . . It is certainly a valuable contribution to studies of women and/or the U.S.-Mexican borderlands in each of these disciplines.” — Marie Woodling, Hispanic American Historical Review

“A major strength of the text is the emphasis on different geographical spaces such as that occupied by Tarascans in southern Illinois; Mexicans in New Rochelle, New York; or Mixtecs in Tijuana. Collectively, these essays are an important contribution to the study of the social transformations that affect women in the United States and Mexico.” — Irasema Coronado, New Mexico Historical Review

“Overall, the essays in Women and Migration in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands richly illustrate the multiple advantages implicit in conducting b-national scholarly research, and the collection serves an influential text in making gender and gender oppression central to Chicana/o Studies, Latin American Studies, and studies of globalization.” — Maythee Rojas, Southern California Quarterly

“This collection is important not only because it sites gender front and center but also because it adds flesh and bone to the borderlands concept by bringing a series of issues into discussion: cultural representations; identity construction and reconstruction; structural, personal, and symbolic violence; sexuality; popular culture; transnational social networks; and marriage and motherhood.” — Lynn Stephen, Latin American Research Review

“This is straightforward, accessible, engaging reading, coupled with an extensive bibliography. Useful for upper-level graduate courses.” — I. Coronado, Choice

“This outstanding collection of essays dismantles a long tradition of research primarily centered on men, mostly studied from a single national perspective, either Mexican or American. . . . The volume would be an asset to courses ranging from the introductory level to those focused on U.S.-Mexico studies, Latina/o and Latin American Studies, border studies, cultural studies, women’s studies, sociology, anthropology, political sciences, and cultural geography.” — María Socorro Tabuenca-Córdoba, NWSA Journal

“A deeply felt and thoroughly researched work, Women and Migration in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands brings together some of the most important feminist voices in the field of immigration and transnational studies. I think Gloria Anzaldúa would have been proud to see how the authors of this book took her concept of the borderlands and grounded it ethnographically in the sorrows, struggles, and dreams of contemporary Chicana and Mexican women. A timely and courageous book that speaks to the major issue of our time—the search for home across and between and despite borders.” — Ruth Behar, author of Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza’s Story

“Denise A. Segura and Patricia Zavella have compiled a spectacular collection on gender, migration, sexuality, work, and family. Timely, provocative, and imaginative, the essays in Women and Migration in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands will become essential readings across a variety of (inter)disciplines: Latina/o studies, cultural studies, sociology, anthropology, gender studies, Latin American studies, American studies, urban planning, and public policy.” — Vicki Ruiz, author of From Out of the Shadows: Mexican Women in Twentieth-Century America


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Denise A. Segura is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Patricia Zavella is Professor of Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Table of Contents Back to Top
About the Series ix

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction 1

Part 1. Borderlands as Site of Struggle

Toward a Planetary Civil Society / Rosa Linda Fregoso 35

A Glass Half Empty: Latina Reproduction and Public Discourse / Leo R. Chavez 67

Illegal Status and Social Citizenship: Thoughts on Mexican Immigrants in a Postnational World / Adelaida R. Del Castillo 92

“Looking Like a Lesbian”: The Organization of Sexual Monitoring at the United States-Mexican Border / Eithne Luibheid 106

The Value of Immigrant Life / Jonathan Xavier India 134

Part 2. The Topography of Violence

Manufacturing Sexual Subjects: “Harassment,” Desire, and Discipline on a Maquiladora Shopfloor / Leslie Salzinger 161

The Dialectics of Still Life: Murder, Women, and Maquiladoras / Melissa W. Wright 184

Rape as a Weapon of War: Militarized Rape at the US-Mexico Border / Sylvanna M. Falcon 203

“Nunca he dejada de tener terror”: Sexual Violence in the Lives of Mexican Immigrant Women / Gloria Gonzalez-Lopez 224

Part 3. Flexible Accumulation and Resistance

Changing Constructions of Sexuality and Risk: Migrant Mexican Women Farmworkers in California / Xochitl Castaneda and Patricia Zavella 249

Space, Gender, and Work: Home-Based Workers in Mexico / Faranak Miraftab 269

Mexican Immigrant Women and the New Domestic Labor / Maria de la Luz Ibarra 286

“Aqui estamos y no nos vamos” Justice for Janitors in Los Angeles and New Citizenship Claims / Cynthia Cranford 306

Part 4. Family Formations and Transnational Social Networks

Transborder Families and Gendered Trajectories of Migration and Work / Norma Ojeda de la Pena 327

Women, Migration, and Household Survival Strategies: Mixtec Women in Tijuana / Laura Velasco Ortiz 341

Single-Parent Families: Choice or Constraint? The Formation of Female-Headed Households in Mexican Shanty Towns / Sylvia Chant 360

Working at Motherhood: Chicana and Mexican Immigrant Mothers and Employment / Denise A. Segura 368

“I’m Here, but I’m There”: The Meanings of Latina Transnational Motherhood / Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo and Ernestine Avila 388

Part 5. Transculturation and Identity in Daily Life

Reproduction of Gender Relations in the Mexican Migrant Community of New Rochelle, New York / Victoria Malkan 415

“En el norte la mujer manda”: Gender, Generation, and Geography in a Mexican Transnational Community / Jennifer S. Hirsch 438

Unruly Passions: Poetics, Performance, and Gender in the Ranchera Song / Olga Najera-Ramirez 456

Becoming Selena, Becoming Latina / Deborah Paredez 477

Cyberbrides and Global Imaginaries: Mexican Women’s Turn from the National to the Foreign / Felicity Schaeffer-Grabiel 503

Bibliography 521

Contributors 585

Index 587
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4118-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4097-3
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