The Remittance LandscapeSpaces of Migration in Rural Mexico and Urban USA

The Remittance LandscapeSpaces of Migration in Rural Mexico and Urban USA

Sarah Lynn Lopez

Print publication date: 2015

ISBN: 9780226105130

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

While so-called transnational migration has occurred between Mexico and the U.S. for over a hundred years, at the turn of the twenty-first century the spaces produced by migration are increasingly defining—and linking—Mexican pueblos and U.S. cities. The movement of people across borders has been paralleled by the flow of capital; money sent from migrants in the U.S. to families in their homelands—remittances—constitutes the largest remittance corridor in the world. Using remittances as a lens to both contribute to and critique contemporary migration discourse, this book unearths the spatial and material practices that define endemic migration as a way of life. Arguing that the physical and social environment produced by migration constitutes a “remittance landscape,” a formal analysis of migrant architecture (homes, public buildings, and infrastructure) is coupled with ethnography to explore how rapidly changing built environments shape migrant experiences. At the state level, countries like Mexico have recognized the importance of this economic flow, harnessing it through formal channels such as the Tres Por Uno (3x1) program. Such government supported migrant development projects comprise a remittance development model that repositions economic migrants as boosters of emigrant villages and towns. Paradoxically, this model demonstrates newfound independence and agency for migrants amid the institutionalization of the distances, ambiguities and ambivalences associated with the geographic and social fragmentation of families and communities. The book concludes with an analysis of migrants’ transborder spatial practices in Chicago, showing how urbanism north of the border is actually composed of, and produced by, processes that span international boundaries.