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Citizenship across Borders

The Political Transnationalism of El Migrante

Michael Peter Smith, Matt Bakker

Publication Year: 2007

Michael Peter Smith and Matt Bakker spent five years carrying out ethnographic field research in multiple communities in the Mexican states of Zacatecas and Guanajuato and various cities in California, particularly metropolitan Los Angeles. Combining the information they gathered there with political-economic and institutional analysis, the five extended case studies in Citizenship across Borders offer a new way of looking at the emergent dynamics of transnational community development and electoral politics on both sides of the border.

Smith and Bakker highlight the continuing significance of territorial identifications and state policies-particularly those of the sending state-in cultivating and sustaining transnational connections and practices. In so doing, they contextualize and make sense of the complex interplay of identity and loyalty in the lives of transnational migrant activists. In contrast to high-profile warnings of the dangers to national cultures and political institutions brought about by long-distance nationalism and dual citizenship, Citizenship across Borders demonstrates that, far from undermining loyalty and diminishing engagement in U.S. political life, the practice of dual citizenship by Mexican migrants actually provides a sense of empowerment that fosters migrants' active civic engagement in American as well as Mexican politics.

Published by: Cornell University Press


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pp. 1-2

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 3-6


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-ix

This book has been seven years in the making. It would not have been possible without the willingness of our interview subjects to tell us their stories of transnational political engagement. We especially wish to thank the main protagonists of our five case studies, migrant political activists Ángel Calderón, Andrés Bermúdez Viramontes, Guadalupe Gómez, Efraín...


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pp. xi-xii

PART 1 Setting the Stage

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1 The Politics of Transnational Citizenship

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pp. 3-26

Discourses on the rights, entitlements, and obligations of citizenship have changed dramatically in the past two decades as a result of the increasingly transnational character of global migration flows, cultural networks, and sociopolitical practices. The once taken-for-granted correspondence between citizenship, nation, and state has been called into question as new forms of grassroots citizenship have taken on an increasingly ...

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2 Reconstructing the Migrant in Mexican State-Policy Discourse

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pp. 27-41

Historically, the Mexican state has deployed various discourses and policy initiatives to encourage the continuing allegiance of Mexican migrants to their patria. In this chapter we offer a detailed analysis of the remarkably consistent set of migrant reincorporation policies implemented by the previous three presidential administrations of Carlos Salinas, Ernesto Zedillo, and Vicente Fox. ...

PART 2 The Politics of Transnational Community Development

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3 The Regional State and the Politics of Translocality

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pp. 45-78

Since the mid-1990s, political elites of the Partido Acción Nacional in Guanajuato have sought to reconstitute guanajuatense migrants to the United States as clients and funders of new state economic and social policy initiatives, as political subjects with “dual loyalty” but limited political autonomy. The translocal character of global migration networks created unique opportunities for Guanajuato’s state government under Vicente Fox, who went from there to become president ...

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4 The Social Construction of “Migrant-Led Productive Investment”

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pp. 79-105

Migrant remittances sent to Mexico have skyrocketed over the last decade, from just under $3.7 billion in 1995 to over $23 billion in 2006 (Banco de México 2007), an increase of over 500 percent. By 2004, Mexico was receiving more remittances than the total sent from the United States to all of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean—including Mexico itself— as recently as 1999 (Lozano Ascencio 2004a). ...

PART 3 El Migrante as Transnational Citizen

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5 Transnational Electoral Politics

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pp. 109-130

On July 1, 2001, Andrés Bermúdez Viramontes was elected presidente of Jerez, one of the largest municipal governments in the state of Zacatecas. Bermúdez, a successful tomato grower, labor contractor, and inventor of a tomato transplanting machine who lived in Winters, California, gained international media attention during his campaign as El Rey del Tomate (the Tomato King). Running under this rubric, Bermúdez, the candidate of the PRD, positioned himself as the prototypical transnational Mexican migrant, and thus as a symbol ...

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6 Institutionalizing New Spaces for Migrant Political Agency

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pp. 131-164

Much of the existing literature on migrant political transnationalism has focused, as we have done in earlier chapters, on the construction and exercise of transnational citizenship at the level of the local state. In the case of Mexican migration in particular, such studies have tended to focus on the informal negotiations between individual migrants, hometown association leaders, nonmigrants, and local and regional political authorities in Mexico ...

PART 4 The Two Faces of Transnational Citizenship

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7 The Second Face of Transnational Citizenship

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pp. 167-183

In previous chapters we have examined the Mexican face of transnational citizenship by detailing the ethnographic findings of a series of separate, yet interrelated, extended case studies that have slowly begun to reveal the complex emergence of Mexican migrants as cross-border political subjects and transnational citizens. In this chapter we turn to the second face of transnational citizenship—migrant politics in the “receiving” context. ...

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8 The Boundaries of Citizenship

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pp. 184-213

The stories of migrant political transnationalism we have profiled in this book offer intriguing insights into enduring debates regarding identity, belonging, and citizenship in this era of large-scale, cross-border migrations. What do the border-crossing political engagements of our ethnographic subjects have to say regarding the theoretical antinomies of immigrant incorporation and transnational connections that have dominated the migration research field in recent years? ...

Appendix Transnational Ethnography

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pp. 215-225


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pp. 227-242


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pp. 243-249

E-ISBN-13: 9780801461873
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801446085

Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2007

Edition: 1