Accepted Paper:

"I came to Barcelona in order to find Latin America": how violence knowledge and the pain of 'home' engender peace activism amongst upper-class Mexican migrants living in Catalunya  


Jamie-Leigh Ruse

Paper Short Abstract:

This paper examines the changing perceptions of ‘home’ amongst middle and upper class Mexican migrants living in Barcelona, and explores the processes by which they become involved in peace activism oriented towards Mexico. It argues for a deeper understanding of the heterogeneity of elite subject positions.

Paper long abstract:

This paper will examine the changing nature of perceptions of "home" amongst middle/upper-class Mexican migrants living in Barcelona and how such changes engender a need to participate in anti-violence activism oriented towards Mexico. The paper begins by exploring the reasons behind an initial desire amongst migrants to 'isolate' themselves from other Mexicans in Catalunya, before unpacking the various processes which cause them to move back towards lo mexicano. Feelings of dislocation and loneliness as a result of barriers to integration in Catalunya contribute to a desire for the familiarity of 'roots', whilst the experience of living in the city and meeting other Latin Americans leads them to question the racial and class structures which exist in Mexico. This can lead to a profound sense of dislocation with regards to where they 'belong' in Mexico. At the same time, keeping in touch with developments in Mexico through online media leads to what I call "home-shock", where being able to 'see' the spread of the violence happening as a result of the conflict between organised crime and state forces causes a profound pain amongst migrants, which acts in contradiction to what they hear from friends and relatives back home, who claim that "everything is fine here". The emotional inhabitation of violence knowledge whilst living abroad causes many to become involved in peace activism. The paper shows how the migrational experiences of Latin American elites are extremely varied, as are the ways in which individuals understand, respond and react to events happening at home.

Panel P24
Cultural and political praxes, ideas and subjectivities in the Latin American upper classes