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A 'pueblo' that walks together: trust and bonding among Central American transit migrants in Mexico

Diaz de Leon Cardenas, Alejandra Beatriz del Carmen (2018) A 'pueblo' that walks together: trust and bonding among Central American transit migrants in Mexico. PhD thesis, University of Essex.


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This thesis focuses on the role of social networks, trust, and bonding during the transit of Central American migrants in Mexico. It has two main research questions: first, do existing social networks of Central American transit migrants in Mexico help them overcome the journey through this country? And second, can and do new social bonds, trust, and cooperation emerge in this context of extreme scarcity, stress, and violence? It draws on over five months of multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork on the southern border of Mexico in Tenosique and Palenque; in the northern border in Saltillo and Nogales, and in Tucson in the United States. The dissertation finds that most migrants do not receive emotional help or resources from their kinship ties while in Mexico. It is possible to form social ties with strangers that yield solidarity during volatile contexts, in contrast to what most authors have observed. Migrants on the road form what I call a “transient community of migrantes,” an accidental community that gives everyone a migrante collective identity, a common narrative, and a sense of belonging. This shared understanding favours solidarity, even when migrants do not trust each other. Male migrants react to the violence and stress by forming closer groups that I call familias del camino, road families. These familias quickly create trust and deep bonds and provide practical support for each other. These ties are solid and enable cooperation but are also temporary. These bonds had not been defined previously by the literature. While most authors had assumed that kin or kin-like ties are most useful while migrating, I show that during transit, social networks with non-family members become more relevant. Migrants who travel with their families react to the violence by attempting to reproduce a safe domestic sphere while migrating. In the reproduction of power dynamics that defines the realm of the public and the private, patriarchal gender identities are also reproduced and through those, men are depicted as protectors of the family and women as vulnerable.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: migration, transit migration, Mexico, Central America, ethnography
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
Depositing User: Alejandra Diaz De Leon Cardenas
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2018 09:37
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2021 01:00

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