Reading Between the Vines: Muchachas Mexicans in Napa Valley’s Eden

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Family stage migration is the first step in the formation of transnational households and in some cases, the eventual migration of entire families to the US. For Mexican adolescent girls raised in this familial arrangement, this means waiting long periods before they finally migrate.

The Fate of Transnational Migration: Muchachas Mexicanas in California’s Napa Valley examines how migration enters the lives of girls raised in transnational households. It explores how migration shapes their lives as they grow up with migration always looming.

The central questions the project seeks to answer are: how does the so-called simultaneity of events, relationships, or formation of families so prevalent in studies of transnationalism produce unequal results and/or experiences? How has US migration altered the temporal spaces of family members left behind in Mexico? Finally, how does gender and age determine longer periods of waiting for adolescent girls? This study is based on sixty in-depth qualitative interviews of girls raised in transnational families. These interviews, conducted in Michoacan, Mexico and in Napa, California, form the main archive of the project.

This project incorporates time and immigration in transnational studies, an area that has not been studied systematically. It examines how for Mexican immigrant girls, growing up in a transnational family, meant being in a continuous state of waiting and of expecting migration to the US. From a young age, these girls were on a migrant path, which means they were “immigrants” long before they crossed the US-Mexico border. These girls then experience a much lengthier migration process.

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