Becoming Nahua youth: aspirations, ambivalent journeys, and struggles for biocultural regeneration
Fina Carpena-Mendez (Oregon State University / University of Gdansk)
Paper short abstract:
This paper examines Nahua youth's aspirations, their ambivalent learning experiences of transnational migration, and the consequences of disrupting care practices deeply intertwined with understandings of the moral good and the inter-generational renewal of agro-ecological knowledge.
Paper long abstract:
Indigenous youth from farming communities in Mexico initiated processes of transnational migration when the neoliberal state made small scale agriculture infeasible at the end of the 1990s. Migration produced hope -something worth dying for- in the context of rapidly spreading imaginaries of the countryside as a symbolic field of death. This was the prelude to broader processes of juvenicide and dispossession promoted by the Mexican state. The transnational family literature has revealed the crucial role of extended kinship in providing care and well-being amid the temporal disruptions and displacements of global migration. It has emphasized how technologies of communication make it possible to maintain social cohesion and long-distance intimacy. Yet after two decades of transnationalization of indigenous communities, chronic illness, disability, and youth suicide, together with the central question of making a living, have become the main concerns of indigenous families. Based on multi-temporal fieldwork, this paper addresses how indigenous relatedness complicate our understanding of family transnationalism, and challenges assumptions about experiences of disembodied long-distance care. Neoliberal capitalism created the conditions for the trans-local re-articulation of being and becoming indigenous. It also disrupted care practices deeply intertwined with local understandings of the moral good and the inter-generational renewal of agro-ecological knowledge. In the context of return migration, ongoing economic crisis and political violence, this paper argues that shared quotidian efforts between elders and youth to renew biocultural heritage and to invest in indigenous quality of life, rich in social relations and care practices, are central to the production of hope.
Youth and indigeneity on the move: mobilities, transcultural knowledge, and sustainability