Accepted Paper:

Violence in transit: narratives of Central American "undocumented" migrants in Mexico's southern border  


Yaatsil Guevara Gonzalez (Bielefeld University)

Paper short abstract:

With this panel I would like to discuss and analyze what are the implications of “being in transit” for Central American migrants who enter Mexico in order to stay somewhere in the country or to continue their journey to USA.

Paper long abstract:

During the weeks, months or even years of the entire trajectory, these transit migrants will experience values, new forms of social interaction, different symbolic dimensions, new manners of negotiation and positioning. Transit migrants have to cross borderlands and countries but also symbolic and immaterial boundaries which are mostly full of violence and transgressions. In some transit spaces and localities transit migrants are symbolized and embodied as non-grata persons - delinquents or gangsters - what could be read as the use of symbolic power (Bourdieu, 1992, p.170).The commonly violent experiences and interactions will guide transit migrants to improve strategies of invisibility, for example using mimicry (Bhabha, 1994). It may also cause a diversion of original plans of migration in many occasions and ways.

Base on this, it is my interest to discuss the interactions and the symbolic violence lived intrinsically in their transit experiences, and the impact of it in their decisions and strategies, as well as in their migratory trajectories' outcomes. Some questions to be discussed would be: What are the social relations of domination behind Central American transit migration processes within local spaces? What are the visible and invisible boundaries that transit migrants face? What visible or invisible strategies do they use? Which strategies do transit migrants use to navigate (Vigh, 2007) through Mexico in order to secure their safety? What tensions, negotiations and contradictions embrace the process of transit migration? What are the structural and individual conditions behind this transitory stage and what is the role of such stage in migration plans?

Panel Mig007
Migration and transition: utopian imaginaries on the move