South-to-South Migration, Reproduction, Health and Citizenship: The Paradoxes of Proximity for Undocumented Nicaraguan Labor Migrant Women in Costa Rica
AuthorGoldade, Kathryn R.
AdvisorNichter, Mark A.
Committee ChairNichter, Mark A.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractInternational migration has grown in both scope and scale in recent decades. Almost half of the world's migrants move between countries lying within the global economic South, yet scholarship remains focused on South-to-North routes. This dissertation is a qualitative study of South-to-South migration experience of Nicaraguan women living in Costa Rica. In the mid-1990s, Costa Rica surpassed the United States as the primary destination for Nicaraguan migrants due to the coincided effects of economic distress in Nicaragua and economic developments in Costa Rica, creating gaps in the labor market that Nicaraguans filled.During the 1990s, the number of Nicaraguan migrants tripled to compose eight to sixteen percent of the Costa Rican population; women make up around half of the migrant population. What does the experience of moving between destination and origin contexts characterized by relative geographic, cultural, linguistic, economic and historical proximity reveal about the often juxtaposed social processes of integration and transnationalism? To explore this question, over a year of continuous ethnographic field research and systematic archival review of newspaper accounts were pursued in Costa Rica and Nicaragua (2005-06). Participant observation and 138 in-depth interviews were conducted with a purposeful sample of 43 migrant women, of whom two thirds were undocumented, and 12 Costa Rican health care workers. For its symbolic and material value to migrants and host country nationals, the health care system was the lens for examining migration issues and experience.Study findings suggest that multi-dimensional social forms of proximity for this migration circuit do not uniformly facilitate integration or transnationalism but rather the "paradoxes of proximity." Nicaraguan migrant women articulated feelings of profound exclusion and ambivalence about their lives. For Costa Ricans, migrants represented a threat to national ideals of "exceptionalism" central to historical accounts of their national identity. Ideals included racial and class homogeneity as well as the welfare state's successes in providing health care for all. By drawing on multiple theoretical perspectives from critical and clinical medical anthropology, feminist and historical anthropology, the study illustrates the importance of attending to paradoxical, local health-related experiences as a reflection of macro-level processes of globalization.