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Sergio Chávez on Border Lives and Transnationalism

With the election of Donald Trump, much has been made about the construction of barriers to entry along the US border with Mexico. But while Trump has placed particular emphasis on the image of a wall designed to limit illegal movement across this border, thousands of workers travel lawfully from cities like Tijuana into the US — and back again — every day. In today’s episode, I talk with Rice University’s Sergio Chávez [1] about his new book Border Lives: Fronterizos, Transnational Migrants, and Commuters in Tijuana, [2] an ethnographic product of many years spent traveling (and waiting to travel) across the border with commuting workers. Dr. Chávez describes the incredible strain that border controls and bureaucracies place on low wage workers, but he also provides a remarkable account of the way that many workers leverage these difficulties into relationships and livelihood strategies. We also explore the implications of his findings for a relatively new approach to the scholarship on immigration, which social scientists call transnationalism.

Download Office Hours #130 [3]

[1] https://sociology.rice.edu/chavez/

[2] https://global.oup.com/academic/product/border-lives-9780199380589?cc=us&lang=en&

[3] http://files.thesocietypages.org/downloads/OH130_Chavez.mp3

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