Martin Lopez-Galicia of Syracuse University reviews Migrant Longing: Letter Writing across the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands by Miroslava Chávez-García. To examine how migrants navigate gender, culture, society, law, and the economy, Chávez-García draws upon a personal collection of more than 300 letters exchanged between her parents and other family members across the U.S.-Mexico border, recreating and giving meaning to the hope, fear, and longing migrants experienced in their everyday lives both “here” and “there” (aqui y alla). As private sources of communication hidden from public consumption and historical research, the letters provide a rare glimpse into the deeply emotional, personal, and social lives of ordinary Mexican men and women as recorded in their immediate, firsthand accounts. Chávez-García demonstrates not only how migrants struggled to maintain their sense of humanity in el norte but also how those remaining at home made sense of their changing identities in response to the loss of loved ones who sometimes left for weeks, months, or years at a time, or simply never returned.
With this richly detailed account, ranging from the Mexican Revolution of the 1910s to the emergence of Silicon Valley in the late 1960s, Chávez-García opens a new window onto the social, economic, political, and cultural developments of the day and recovers the human agency of much maligned migrants in our society today.
Read the book review at https://doi.org/10.1177/0197918318818487