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The nostalgia of change : a history of Mexican return migration to Acámbaro, Guanajuato, 1930-2006

  • Author(s): Pérez, Jesús Varela
  • et al.
Abstract

This study examines the social, economic, and cultural changes that return migrants have brought to a town with a long history of emigration to the United States. It encompasses a history of return migration to Acámbaro from the onset of the Great Depression in 1929 through the era of Mexican President Vicente Fox (2006). I trace and juxtapose how return migration has changed the town's social, economic, and cultural landscape. Some of these new attributes include an increase in drug consumption, the development of Chicano-style gang culture among local youth, and the creation of a temporary middle class. I argue that the development of this new temporary middle class has existed since the Bracero period and that its presence has polarized the populace of towns like Acámbaro because of the introduction of new cultural values. While some view cultural change as invasive and disrespectful to local traditions, others view it as an opportunity to break away from traditional values, prompting further migration to the United States with tangible temptations of a better life. Whereas traditional immigration studies focus on the challenges and opportunities that immigration poses in the host country, I conclude that return migration is just as important. The immigrant experience cannot be fully understood if their return home is not given the attention it deserves

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