Mexican American Communities (SOCL B235)

Instructor: Prof. Veronica Montes

Course Description (by Prof. Montes)

For its unique history, the number of migrants, and the two countries’ proximity, Mexican migration to the United States represents an exceptional case in world migration. There is no other example of migration with more than 100 years of history. The copious presence of migrants concentrated in a host country, such as we have in the case of the 11.7 million Mexican migrants residing the United States, along with another 36.3 million Mexican descendants, is unparalleled. The 1,933-mile-long border shared by the two countries makes it one of the longest boundary lines in the world and, unfortunately, also one of the most dangerous frontiers in the world today.  In this participatory course, we will examine the different economic, political, historical, social and cultural forces that have shaped this centenarian migration influx. We will undertake a macro-, meso-, and micro-levels of analysis. At the macro-level of political economy, we will investigate the economic interdependency that has developed between Mexico and the US over different economic development periods of these countries. Particularly, we will examine the role the Mexican labor force has played to boosting and sustaining both the Mexican and the American economies.  At the meso-level, we will examine different institutions both in Mexico and in US that have determined the ways in which millions of Mexicans migrate to this country. Last, but certainly not least, we will explore the impacts that both the macro- and meso-processes have had on the micro-level, by considering the imperatives, aspirations, and dreams that have prompted millions of people to leave their homes and communities behind in search of better opportunities. This major life decision of migration brings with it a series of social transformations in family and community networks, this will investigate the cultural impacts in both the sending and receiving migrant communities. In sum, we will come to understand how these three levels of analysis work together.