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Accepted Paper:

Re-entangling Indigenous Migrant Youth with Earth Beings: Regenerating Agriculture and Ecologies of Belonging  
Fina Carpena-Mendez (Oregon State University)

Paper short abstract:

Mexican indigenous migrant youth's vulnerabilities have driven community efforts for re-appropriating animistic ecologies and learning to care for all life forms in order to regenerate health and create well-being after their transnational migratory experiences.

Paper long abstract:

Agrarian restructuring and transnational migration have reconfigured Mexican Indigenous youth and undermined cultural and environmental sustainability. Two decades after Nahua youth took the lead in transnational migration in search of work and life opportunities, adolescent suicide, chronic illness and disability have become families' primary concerns in new migrant-sending communities in the process of abandoning subsistence agriculture amid ever-increasing ecological devastation. The social relations of learning and care for kin and the other-than-human world have been reconfigured by the transnationalization of local livelihoods and educational reforms.

Mexican rural youth's recent efforts to re-appropriate their animistic ecologies after their migratory experience and to rebuild communion with other beings in nature brings to the fore the agency of the other-than-humans in regenerating health and sustainable ecosystems. First, I examine how the transnational/transcultural experiences of Nahua returned youth affected the re-appropriation of an Indigenous identity and the recreation of Indigenous agronomy and farmwork in rural Mexico after migration to the USA. Secondly, I focus on young Mexican migrants who after working with their parents as farm laborers in Oregon and struggling to get college education decided to rent plots to develop organic farming and to learn spiritual practices that sustain agriculture in their Indigenous communities in Mexico as well as from Native American traditions. By drawing on decolonial approaches and collaborative ethnography in Mexico and the USA, this paper analyzes how youth's vulnerabilities have driven local efforts for cultural revitalization and sustainability by centering on relatedness with and caring for all life forms.

Panel P080
(Re)connecting with Earth Beings: ritual innovation and affective entanglements in contemporary ecopolitics