Organization, Identity, and Transnational Citizenship: Mexican Indigenous Migrants in the United States

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 10:50 AM
Room: Booth 41
Oral Presentation
Sascha KRANNICH , Political Science, Muenster University, Gehren, Germany
Transnational migration challenges the congruency of identity, citizenship, and state territory, because transmigrants identify with their communities in countries of destination as well as origin, and practice citizenship across national borders. The question of transnational identity and citizenship is all the more important when migration involves members of indigenous groups who are ethnically discriminated as well as politically and economically marginalized in countries of origin and in their adopted countries. How do indigenous migrants negotiate transnational citizenship? Based on the data collected from my ethnographic research in Los Angeles, I argue that indigenous migrants from Mexico’s Southern state of Oaxaca negotiate citizenship through a diverse network of migrant organizations which open wide transnational social spaces to reconstruct the boundaries of ethnic and local membership and belonging. In contrast to Mexican mestizo migrants, they established issue-based migrant organizations in Los Angeles – such as business, religious, or educational organizations – above the level of hometown associations and state-based federations to claim precise rights for indigenous people as workers, believers, or students. In doing so, they collaborate with various political institutions, businesses, churches, and other organizations on different levels – local, state as well as national – in the United States and in Mexico. In other words, pan-indigenous identity and transnational citizenship emerge not only in political response to ethnic discrimination and social hostility, but also cooperation and support in transnational spaces.