Imagining Un Futuro Digno: Indigenous Youth Striving For Non-Migration In Guatemala

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Ethnic Studies
Latin American Languages and Societies
Latin American Studies
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Nichols, Briana

ABSTRACTIMAGINING UN FUTURO DIGNO: INDIGENOUS YOUTH STRIVING FOR NON-MIGRATION IN GUATEMALA Briana Nichols Deborah Thomas Kathleen Hall Imagining un Futuro Digno: Indigenous youth striving for non-migration in Guatemala analyses youth aspirations for non-migratory futures in contexts of extensive migration. This dissertation asks: how does immobility becomes desired and sought after by young people in social-geographic contexts of extensive mobility? What does it mean to live and make futures in these contexts? What do practices of immobility look like and how do they relate to the larger social and material fields in which youth are embedded? Integrating seventeen months of multi-sited ethnographic participant observation with archival research and media analysis, this project examines how Indigenous Guatemalan youth reckon with, and leverage, the changing material and social realities that migration produces. Bringing into conversation anthropologies of migration and education, critical diaspora studies, and the work of critical indigenous and feminist scholars, I demonstrate how aspirations of non-migration come into being, the ways in which youth work towards their actualization, and the achievability of these aspirations. I argue for the productive reframing of migration as a problem-space through which people evaluate migration as a future-making technique and I demonstrate how (im)mobility emerges as a desired modality. Through this work I show how young people come to focus on the lack of dignity afforded their migrating loved ones in the United States and use this diasporic knowledge to contest taken-for-granted spatiotemporalities of future making within their communities. I conclude that these practices are a form of pragmatic futurity through which Indigenous youth navigate the problem space of migration with the goal of animating the repressed potentials of their communities. Through their diasporic knowledge production and pragmatic futurity youth reframe their communities as spaces in which a future is not only possible, but desirable, and themselves as the people who can and will build this future, contesting the pathways of opportunity represented both by transnational migration and regional development interventions. The findings of this study inform future research on the sociocultural contexts of extreme migration and migration prevention in global settings.

Deborah A. Thomas
Kathleen D. Hall
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