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Davidson College

Publication Date

Spring 2019

Program Name

Mexico: Migration, Borders, and Transnational Communities


On March 21st, 2019, I was at a birthday lunch for my host mother at her parents’ house in Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico, where I am currently studying abroad. Her father began to ask me about the normal meal times in the United States, and shared that he had witnessed this cultural difference firsthand during his time as a migrant worker in the United States. I asked him more questions and learned that he had first gone to Chesterfield, Missouri as a participant in the bracero program in 1953 and later to Los Angeles as an undocumented migrant in the 1980s. I was intrigued. Last fall, I had traveled with the Latin American Studies department at Davidson to see Bittersweet Harvest, the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibition about the Bracero Program. There, we listened to a lecture by Dr. Mireya Loza about the Bracero History Archive. It was the first time I had heard of the bracero program, and I was fascinated by the snippets of participant’s stories shared through photos and documents and quotations. Less than a year later and 2,188 miles away, I had stumbled upon a person in my own host family who had lived this experience and was eager to share his story with me. I listened as he recounted his memories of the program, asking a few questions along the way. Eventually, he told me about a supervisor who was malicious toward himself several other Mexican braceros and I began to wonder to what extent race colored his experience on the program. I decided to conduct a case study to answer that question, hypothesizing that he confronted both systemic and interpersonal racism throughout his time as a bracero the United States, and that these shaped his work experiences more than his social life.


Immigration Law | International and Intercultural Communication | International Relations | Latin American Languages and Societies | Latin American Studies | Migration Studies | Politics and Social Change | Race and Ethnicity


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