Education and migration in rural Mexico: An ethnographic view of local experience
AuthorUttech, Melanie Renee
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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.
AbstractThis interdisciplinary study examines the education and migration experiences of children, and their families, in a migrant-sending community in Mexico. It seeks to inform U.S. policy-makers campaigning for anti-immigrant legislation who have failed to examine the historical consequences of the contradictions existing between policy and practice. Additionally, it argues against U.S. educational practice that begins with intervention models based on deficiencies for immigrant and migrant students, rather than build on rich linguistic and cultural resources these children bring to the classroom. Data were collected for this ethnographic study over a period of 3½ years to examine historical and sociocultural backgrounds, dialect variations in patterns of communication, attitudes toward education, and causal roots of the migratory work experience. The researcher lived as a participatory member of a rural community in Guanajuato, Mexico, and conducted 81 formal interviews with parents, children, teachers, administrators and elders. The results of this research are deeply rooted in history. The U.S. political economy played a key role in establishing patterns of migration northward. The first members of the community began working in the United States in 1942, because of the Bracero Program, a contract between the United States and Mexico whereby low-cost seasonal workers were sent to U.S. growers to fulfill the demand for field labor. Because families lived from subsitence farming practices, the appeal was great to head North, work temporarily, and return home. Though the Bracero Program officially ended, and many workers were denied legal access to the United States, the demand for cheap labor has not subsided. Agribusiness continues to seek Mexican workers, encouraging undocumented passage by guaranteeing work opportunities. Children have been socialized into this work pattern, and today most believe they eventually will have to work en El Norte, though they would prefer to stay home. Women assume familial responsibilities and traditional roles are transformed, and females become heads of household. Children who travel with their fathers or parents are penalized within the U.S. school system when viewed as empty slates, yet these children have much to offer U.S. multuicultural classrooms in the way of diverse perspectives and experiences.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Language, Reading & Culture