North America USA and Mexico Oral History of Mexican Migrants in California

11 July 2011

Anthropologist Juan José Gutiérrez, from California State University in Monterey Bay reports on a current research project he is involved with. ‘At the beginning of this year I was starting to work on a research project, the “Making of the Transnation”. This was aimed at exploring the role of memory in the creation of transnational spaces – where individuals and communities from Mexico and California exchange cultural, economic, social and political assets across, and regardless of international boundaries.

 ‘While carrying out initial interviews for this project with migrants in the agricultural valleys of California, I shared my interest with Ana Isabel Roldan and Gabriel Muro from the University of Queretaro, Mexico. We decided to work together to expand the project focusing on the entrepreneurial aspects of the experience of migrants in the host country and/or their home country. ‘Our intention is to explore, understand, and highlight the relevance of the entrepreneurial impetus of the migrant experience, and from a multiregional and interdisciplinary perspective. Working collaboratively with colleagues from the University of Laval in Canada we submitted a trilateral proposal to the Colegio de Mexico. Our proposal was awarded and we will work together during the next two years towards a collaborative publication scheduled for 2012.

‘While this new phase of the project takes the initial proposal to a different conceptual focus, the scope and multiregional approach brings new challenges and reach to it. One thing remains unchanged from the initial intent: the end result will enable the reader to explore the different aspects of transnational life as enacted by Mexican migrants in California, bringing to the forefront the role that memory and culture play in the creation of transnational spaces, perhaps the most salient and complex aspect of the human experience in the twenty-first century.’ l For further information on the research project, email

Source: International News Section of UK's Oral History Journal, Spring 2011, p24.

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