Gordillo, Luz Maria. Mexican Women and the Other Side of Immigration: Engendering Transnational Ties. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2010. x + 211 pages. Cloth, $55.00.
For five years, Luz Maria Gordillo, an assistant professor of women's studies at Washington State University, engaged a transnational community that has been migrating from the small, rural town of San Ignacio, Mexico, to Detroit, Michigan. This migration began in the 1940s and 1950s during the Bracero Program (a guest worker program established between the United States and Mexico) and has continued steadily since then. In her dynamic interactions with this community through interviews and observations, Gordillo focuses on these migration experiences from the intersecting lens of gender, race, class, age, sexuality, and citizenship. She also pays particular attention to how these experiences unfolded for the women involved.
Gardillo's research led her to discover several underlying themes within this community. San Ignacians who migrated to Detroit often remained strongly connected to their hometown and through this connection San Ignacio was redefined economically and culturally. At the same time, they also invested in Detroit during its downward economic spiral. With increased purchasing power, they bought homes and developed businesses in what has become known as "Mexican Town." As networks of San Ignacians grew in Detroit, women created kinship-like communities with ties to certain public venues such as schools, churches, and social services. Gordillo suggests that most of these women found ways to empower themselves through various aspects of living in the United States. For instance, several used reproductive rights (e.g., birth control methods) that they were often dissuaded to use in their community of origin due to religious and cultural practices. Additionally, many women more readily embraced their sexuality by dressing provocatively, dating more openly, and other means.
When added to the desire to be near their families and the networks they developed, these women often had a deeper affinity toward the Detroit community. Many San Ignacian men, however, desired to return "home" because they valued the respect they received in this community. Here the author examines the patriarchal challenges that women faced including the relative difficulty of receiving citizenship and the lack of participation allowed in the political process in their community of...