Citizenship across Borders

Citizenship across Borders: The Political Transnationalism of El Migrante

Michael Peter Smith
Matt Bakker
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Citizenship across Borders
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6187-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. List of Acronyms
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Part 1 Setting the Stage

    • 1 The Politics of Transnational Citizenship
      (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 transterritorial character. Resident noncitizens now routinely live and work in transnational cities throughout the world, while maintaining social and political networks that link them to people and places in their countries and communities of origin.

      At the same time, the rise...

    • 2 Reconstructing the Migrant in Mexican State-Policy Discourse
      (pp. 27-42)

      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. Through these policies, the Mexican state developed transnational means to mobilize “the local” in order “to integrate itself into the global arena” (Sherman 1999, 869).

      Although we focus here on the policies of the contemporary period, the Mexican state’s attempt to reincorporate migrants has a long...

  6. Part 2 The Politics of Transnational Community Development

    • 3 The Regional State and the Politics of Translocality: The Napa–El Timbinal Connection
      (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 of Mexico, and his successor, Juan Carlos Romero Hicks, the leaders of the relatively conservative PAN in the state, to reconfigure the meanings of “nation,” “region,” and “citizen” in order to co-opt...

    • 4 The Social Construction of “Migrant-Led Productive Investment”
      (pp. 79-106)

      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). According to the Banco de México (2005) the increase is a result of both better reporting mechanisms and an increase in remittance flows. Although the official reporting system may be...

  7. Part 3 El Migrante as Transnational Citizen

    • 5 Transnational Electoral Politics: The Multiple Coronations of the “Tomato King”
      (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 of the rising power of el migrante in Mexican political life. Bermúdez’s campaign and his victory were publicized widely in...

    • 6 Institutionalizing New Spaces for Migrant Political Agency: Votar y Ser Votado in Mexico
      (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 over the boundaries and content of community membership and “substantive” or “extraterritorial” citizenship (e.g., Fitzgerald 2000, 2005; Goldring 1998, 2002; Rivera-Salgado 1999, 2000; R. Smith 1998, 2005). In recent years, however, the activities of...

  8. Part 4 The Two Faces of Transnational Citizenship

    • 7 The Second Face of Transnational Citizenship: Migrant Activists Recross the Border
      (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. It is useful to begin this shift to political spaces on the U.S. side of the border by recalling Arjun Appadurai’s conception of “post-nationalism” as a trope intended to capture the waning power of “receiving” states...

    • 8 The Boundaries of Citizenship: Transnational Power Revisited
      (pp. 184-214)

      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? Do the transnational political practices and identities adopted by our research subjects constitute a final nail in the coffin of those earlier conceptions that envisioned citizenship and political community as tightly circumscribed within the territorial boundaries of...

  9. Appendix: Transnational Ethnography Methods, Fieldwork, and Subjects
    (pp. 215-226)
  10. References
    (pp. 227-242)
  11. Index
    (pp. 243-250)