La Casa de Mis Sueanos: Dreams of Home in a Transnational Mexican Community

La Casa de Mis Sueanos: Dreams of Home in a Transnational Mexican Community

La Casa de Mis Sueanos: Dreams of Home in a Transnational Mexican Community

La Casa de Mis Sueanos: Dreams of Home in a Transnational Mexican Community


In the small village of Napizaro, on the border of Mexico & Southern California, local peasants have learned to operate in two worlds to survive: they participate in the global capitalist economy by sending migrants to the United States in order to succeed as small-holding farmers. But as marginalized workers in a segmented labor force, they are unable to secure a full livelihood in the United States; thus they must retain the links to their agrarian roots, including retaining right to ejidal property. Casa De Mis Suenos is an exploration of conflict between the ideals of home, centered on community & family in Mexico, & the need to earn a living, which entails long sojourns in the United States. Despite the apparent ease with which Mexican natives move across borders, participation in international labor markets necessitates dividing the community. It also calls into question the notions of village, house-hold, nation-state, & self, which have lost their descriptive power in the context of transnational capitalism. The book is more than an engaging account of the realities which pervade one small village-it's an examination of the politics, poverty, wealth, & social & economic changes with affect the entire Mexico/ Southern California border today.


Since the 1970s anthropologists have struggled with the problem of understanding culture within an increasingly complex and global world. New models are needed to comprehend people on the move, as migrants, as refugees, or as members of long-standing diasporas. People's attachment to place, whether to an actual home within a village or to an imagined homeland, demonstrates that to understand migration and other deterritorializations only in terms of discontinuities or disruption is inadequate. Global practices, from labor migration to mass consumerism, occur simultaneously, and in contradictory ways, at both global and local levels.

This book, based on ethnographic research in Mexico and the Los Angeles area, examines the problem of social and cultural reproduction within an increasingly globalized world. It does this by focusing on the daily social and spatial practices of the people of Napízaro, a village in the west-central Mexican state of Michoacín that relies heavily on transnational migration. I argue that despite the deterritorializing and possibly fragmenting forces of globalization, social and cultural practices remain embedded in local places. Place remains critical, as reflected in the strength of attachments migrants have to their community and family and in the irreducibility of migrants' material relationships, anchored in their houses.

Migration has simultaneously divided families along gender and generational lines while uniting them in the project of building and maintaining a house in Mexico. The new economic and moral landscape created by transnational migration has engendered conflict as migration has usurped traditional routes to prosperity and success and as migrant houses have become both the locus of growing consumerism and a site for heavily charged and contested ideas about family and community.

Migration exposes underlying conflict in the community, which has been masked by the rhetoric of the village as family and a closely linked ethic of equality and shared poverty. The landed village elite, whose success in large part stems from their experience as migrants in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s, attempt to maintain their place in the village by calling on the moral authority of the past. Younger, often landless, migrants try to reassert themselves in place, even from a distance, by building large new houses in the village; however, this makes them increasingly reliant on transnational labor wages. Efforts by villagers . . .

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