Transnationalism Bibliography

  • Hondagneu-Sotelo, P., & Avila, E. (1997). I'm Here, But I'm There: the Meanings of Latina Transnational Motherhood. Gender & Society, 11 (Oct.), 548-571.
    Keyword(s): Domestic Duties, Gender, Latinas, Women

Question(s) addressed by the author and working arguments

i) Examine how Latina immigrant domestic workers transform the meanings of motherhood to accommodate these spatial and temporal separations. ii) Examine the emergent meanings of motherhood in relation to their employment, as well as their strategies for selectively developing emotional ties with their employers’ children and for creating new rhetorics of mothering standards on the basis of what they view in their employers’ homes.

Latina immigrant women who work as nannies or housekeepers and reside in Los Angeles while their children remain in their countries of origin constitute one variation in the organizational arrangements of motherhood. This is what the authors call “transnational motherhood”

Motherhood is not biologically predetermined in any fixed way, but is historically and socially constructed. Many factors set the stage for transnational motherhood. These factors include labor demand for Latina immigrant women in the United States, particularly in paid domestic work; civil war, national economic crises and particular development strategies, along with tenuous and scarce job opportunities for women and men in Mexico and Central America, and the subsequent increasing numbers of female-headed households.

Conceptual references to transnational – transnationalism

The transnational perspective in immigration studies is useful in conceptualizing how relationships across borders are important. Yet, an examination of transnational motherhood suggests that transnationalism is a contradictory process of the late 20th century.

Conclusions or Final Remarks

The ties of transnational motherhood suggest simultaneously the relative permeability of borders, as witnessed by the maintenance of family ties and the new meanings of motherhood, and the impermeability of nation-state borders. Ironically, just at the moment when free trade proponents celebrate globalization and transnationalism, and when “borderlands” and “border crossings” have become the metaphors of preference for describing a mind-boggling range of conditions, nation-state borders prove to be very real obstacles for many Mexican and Cental American women who work in the united States and who, given the appropriate circumstance, wish to be with their children.