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Latinas and US Immigration: Gender, Race and Boundary Crossing

LALS 31107M -82942 Prof. Norma Fuentes-Mayorga
Lectures: Tues, Thurs 11:00am -12:15pm Office: 6/108C NAC
Classroom: 379 Shepard Hall Office Hours: 4-6pm

Course description: This course explores the immigrant and integration experience of Latina women in the US and the significance of gender and race in their socioeconomic life chances. The course bridges literatures on international migration, Latino studies, gender, race and boundary crossing to address the causes and consequences of an increasing immigration of Latin American women to the US in recent decades. Research suggests the rapid growth of the US Latino population is driven mainly by immigration and high fertility rates among the native-born. Yet, we lack insights on the larger factors that push some Latin American nations to export mostly women and others men. Or, why do largely black and mulato nations like Panama, Dominican Republic, Brazil or even Jamaica, send more women to the US than nations like Mexico, Argentina or even Cuba?

Overall, this course has three main objectives: 1) to expose students to the relevant literature on international migration and gender and race inequality within sociology and Latin America and Latino Studies; 2) to compare the immigration and integration of Latin American and other immigrant groups in different contexts of reception, including old and new destinations; 3) to explore how the immigration of women affects the school and labor market aspirations and outcomes of their daughters but also shifts in cultural views about courtship, marriage, motherhood but also about money. Students will also benefit from the additional research insights of invited guest lecturers, documentaries, as well as from weekly class discussions and student-led, group presentations. Students will prepare and present the results of their research papers focused on the international migration of women in the US at the end of the semester.

Some of the questions framing this course will be:

1. As an expanding service economy increasingly covets the ‘soft’ skills (and cheap labor) of immigrant women for a globalized, service ‘care industry,’ how do service jobs as opposed to factory jobs shape the life chances of migrant women today? 2. A new research documents the unexpected mobility of minorities, mostly the educational gains of immigrant girls over boys, from families and communities with very little resources. What explains this unprecedented mobility or the paradoxes found in the mobility and also in the increasing poverty and racialization of some Latino groups? 3. What mechanisms allow Mexicans, for example, to find work and housing in gentrifying New York neighborhoods, or in minority areas undergoing fast economic and social change? What allows this new migrant group to cross class and racial boundaries not easily open to other Latino groups with longer tenure in the New York, such as Dominicans or Puerto Ricans? 4. Finally, what is the role of gender, race and immigrant status in the spatial and economic mobility of Latin American groups in new and old immigrant destinations of the US?

Required Texts: The following books will be available for purchase in the campus bookstore: Chang, Leslie, T. 2008. Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China. New York: Spiegel and Grau. Ehrenreich, Barbara and Hochschild, Arlie Russell, (eds.). 2004. Global Woman: Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the New Economy. New York: Metropolitan /Owl Book. Hirsch, Jennifer S. 2003. A Courtship after Marriage: Sexuality and Love in Mexican Transnational Families. Berkeley: University of California Press. Hondagneu-Sotelo (ed.) 2003. Gender and US Immigration: Contemporary Trends. University of California Press.

Additional suggested and required readings will be assigned throughout the semester from the following books which I have put on reserve at the library, and selected readings uploaded into Blackboard, for your convenience:

Alba, R., & Holdaway, J. (Eds.). (2013). The Children of Immigrants at School: A Comparative Look at Integration in the United States and Western Europe. NYU Press.

Brown, Irene (ed.) 1999. Latinas and African American Women at Work: Race, Gender and Economic Inequality. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Castillo-Speed, Lillian (ed.) 1995. Latina Women’s Voices from the Borderlands. New York: Touchstone Books. ISBN: 0684-80381-X Crul, Maurice, Flip Lindo and Ching Lin Pang. 1999. C...

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