Sexuality in the Migration Process: Latin American Migrants in Chicago and Buenos Aires

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Hörsaal 07 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Carolina ROSAS, Instituto de Investigaciones Gino Germani, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina
Cecilia GAYET, Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, Mexico
Societies seek to regulate various aspects of sexuality, such as with whom to interact and with whom not to, as well as what practices are allowed and which are not, at what point in life one should exercise and even when one can speak and when one is required to shut up. That is to say, practices, communication and thoughts are constantly regulated. However, these aspects do not remain static. Their change is slow. But some events, such as international migration, can complicate the scenario.

Our goal is to comparatively analyze male and female migrant’s feelings about changes in communication, control strategies and sexual practices. Qualitative results come from research conducted with two Latin American groups; one of whom migrated to a northern country and the other to a southern country: a) Mexicans in Chicago, USA; and b) Peruvians in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Between 2001 and 2002, 48 interviews were conducted for the first investigation, and between 2005 and 2007, 45 interviews were done for the second one.

We will show that when one spouse migrates and the other remains behind, couples must learn to negotiate agreements on sexuality. Communication and standards become more flexible. Moreover, those who migrate find multiple possibilities for exercising their sexuality and begin to question the controls that held them while in their countries of origin. Thus, migration causes a crisis, although at least temporarily, concerning the habits and norms regarding sexual exclusivity, promoting new contexts of restriction and permission. Finally, although one of the streams studied is masculine and husbands tend to migrate earlier than their wives, while in the other the opposite occurs, we find similarities in the challenges that migration imposes on the sexuality of those who go and those who remain.