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  Gabriela Echegoyen Nava


I am close to completion of a a PhD in Sociology. My thesis is about the lives of undocumented migrant and non-migrant members of transnational families in the USA and Mexico. It is an ethnographic account of how separations resulting from migration reconfigure family relationships, emotional exchanges and perceptions of the self for both those who left and those who stayed behind. At the same time, it analyses how undocumented status influences migrants’ incorporation to the society of arrival, as well as hopes and expectations and plans for settlement or return.

The present work is the result of more than seven months of multi-sited ethnographic research in both a small town and two cities in Mexico and in two locations in the USA. I worked with two cohorts of first-generation undocumented Mexican migrants in the United States and their kin in Mexico. These cohorts differed mainly in their demographic origin (rural/ urban), social class (working-class/ middle-class origins in Mexico), level of education (primary/ high school and more) and modes of crossing (entry without inspection/ visa overstayers). Hence, this study looks at similar and contrasting experiences of migrants and non-migrants discussing the interplay between demographic origin, class and intergenerational relations.

I observed that family relations and social networks play an essential role in the migration experience by providing financial, material and emotional support. However, these relations are filled with inconsistencies and contradictions and shift in different contexts and over time. Throughout this study, I analyse these fluid and changing dynamics and discuss their social implications for transnational family life.

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