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A Case Study on Oaxaqueñx Identities: A Study on Its Political and Legal Importance

  • Author(s): Avendaño, Lesly
  • Advisor(s): Volpp, Leti
  • et al.
The data associated with this publication are available upon request.
Abstract

Although the Bracero program ended in 1964, migration did not start nor end there. The history of Indigenous migration is one that has resulted in complex transborder identities and communities. The identities and migration of Oaxaqueñxs is a key focus throughout this project as I seek to elevate the stories of this Indigenous community. This study seeks to close the gap in existing literature that links Oaxaqueñxs’ demographics in farm labor to the Bracero Program through the lens of legal consciousness. My research question is: How does the legal consciousness of the Oaxaqueñxs reflect their roots in migration? By looking at migration as a catalyst for identity, I used the following sub-questions: (1) How and to what extent has the Bracero Program shaped how Oaxaqueñxs relate to the American legal system?; (2) How and to what extent do Oaxaqueñx farmworkers believe the Bracero Program shaped their political, economic, and “legal” identity?; (3) How and to what extent has the migration shaped the transborder identities of Oaxaqueñxs in California?; (4) How and to what extent do Oaxaqueñxs identify with the political community in Los Angeles, OaxaCalifornia?; and (5) How and to what extent do Oaxaqueñxs understand themselves to be Californians (or citizens of California) legally and politically? To answer these complex questions, I conducted semi-structured interviews with Oaxaqueñxs in California, specifically farmworkers, organization leaders, and people with ties to the Bracero Program, to the Central Valley, and Los Angeles. This study finds that as a result of immigration status, membership in Oaxaca, and employment history Oaxaqueñx carry unique struggles and legal consciousness. This research points out the importance of Indigenous organizations, a comprehensive citizenship pathway, and the complex “legal” identity of transborder Indigenous migrants. Ultimately, this project is crucial in highlighting the crucial needs of Oaxaqueñx in policies, law, and organizations by showcasing how they navigate their lives and the law.

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