670.8 “Desde niños hasta muertos” the transnational back and forth of emotions: A multi-sided ethnographic case study of Mexican transnational communities

Saturday, August 4, 2012: 12:02 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Veronica MONTES , Sociology, UCSB, Santa Barbara, CA
The core of my dissertation project compares two transnational Mexican communities residing in the United States. While the two sending communities belong to the state of Guerrero, Mexico, the receiving communities are located in two different regions in the US: California and Delaware. By employing a multi-sited, ethnographic approach, I examine the practices by which migrants maintain their emotional bonds with their relatives, as well as their physical and emotional connection with their homeland. To address this complex socio-economic process, I conducted 50 open-ended interviews in both the sending and receiving communities along with participant observation. For the purpose of this panel, in this paper I will examine what I refer to as the transnational back and forth of emotions. To illustrate this process, I examine two case studies: a carrier service and a cell phone retailer service both located in Wilmington, DE. In the case of the former, Mercedes, the owner of the carrier service, reports that “niños y muertos” are part of the items migrants regularly send over to their relatives in Mexico. In the case of children, many migrants send their children, particularly during summer, as result of the high cost of child care in the US, which in comparison to the cost of sending their children to Mexico it seems to be a more affordable option. On the other hand, Mexican migrants seem to be changing their cultural practices, and therefore their emotions, in regards to funeral rituals. Rather than sending the actual body, migrants incinerate their dead relatives and send the ashes over to Mexico to be buried in their community of origin. By using these case studies, I examine how emotions such as nostalgia, loss, and love become part of a transnational back and forth exchange of emotions in both sending and receiving communities.