Putting back “place” on transnational migration studies: international migration from the poor periphery of Mexico city

Cristóbal Mendoza Perez, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Iztapalapa

Since the early 1990s transnational approaches have somehow challenged traditional views on international migration. The transnational approach implies a radical overturn of geographical concepts of migration, such as place of destination, which are left behind by more ambiguous (yet more analytically challenging) transnational social spaces. This literature shares two assumptions about “space”. First transnational communities do no have precise geographical limits but instead are created in “deterritorialized nation-states” (Basch et al., 1994), “hyperspaces” (Gupta and Ferguson, 1992), “delocalized transnations” (Appadurai, 1996), “third spaces” (Bhabha, 1994), “ethnoscapes” (Appadurai, 1991) which challenge the essence of the nation-state (Kearney, 1991). Second, Mexico-US transnational communities are social and cultural constructs (Chavez, 1994; Goldring, 1996; Rouse, 1992). Recently though the “paradigm of new mobilities” or “mobility turn” in geography (Creswell, 2001, 2002, 2006; Sheller y Urry, 2006; Urry, 2007) has re-constructed the analytical borders of transnationality within a broader context of general mobility and has provoked a vivid interest on “place” amongst some researchers on transnational migration. Following this line of analysis, several scholars have focused on immigrants´ everyday practices which are thought transnational, but at the same time are transformed and constructed in different places (Ehrkamp, 2005; Mendoza, 2006; Mitchell, 2004). Set in this theoretical context, this paper studies international migration from a municipality on the poor periphery of Mexico city (Valle de Chalco-Solidaridad) with high rates of US out-migration, mobility (even circularity) and return from the US. Particularly, it explores how relevant the “place” (i.e. constructions and representations of places, as well as developing a sense of place) is to understanding migration processes and decisions amongst the residents of this municipality. Methodologically, the paper uses data from a household representative survey (710 questionnaires) and information from 30 in-depth interviews with households selected from the previous survey.

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Presented in Session 57: Transnational relations between origin and destination