Del Otro Lado: Constructions of Literacy in Rural Mexico and the Effects of Transnational Migration

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/194062
Title:
Del Otro Lado: Constructions of Literacy in Rural Mexico and the Effects of Transnational Migration
Author:
Meyers, Susan Virginia
Issue Date:
2009
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
This dissertation is a nine-month ethnographic study of migrant families' literacies and corresponding value systems. Specifically, while I found that formal education is strongly valued among Mexican migrant groups, it is considered more a marker of prestige than a means to self-realization or economic improvement. In turn, socially transmitted skills and consejos (advice) are more important to migrant communities' survival and personal and material advancement. In order to demonstrate the role of social literacies and the irony that schooled literacy takes in the lives of many rural Mexicans, I trace the historical development of my field site, the town of Villachuato in the state of Michoacán, from its inception as a Spanish-owned hacienda, through its liberation and subsequent small-scale farming initiatives following the Mexican Revolution, and on into the current history of those farms' failure as a result of transnational economic influences like NAFTA. While more and more members of the Villachuato community are being pushed across the Mexico-U.S. border in search of work, public school teachers in rural Mexico are frustrated by rising drop-out rates and perceived student apathy. However, while teachers advocate formal education as the best means of self-improvement, students in Villachuato schools do not find the curriculum relevant to their lives. Rather, they adopt those schooled lessons that they find helpful (i.e., reading and writing skills that help them read street signs and navigate government and commercial bureaucracies); but they actively resist the value systems of meritocracy and personal identity development implicit in public education. By considering the ways in which local communities interface with dominant institutional literacies, this study supports efforts within the New Literacy Studies to unpack the complexities of globalized literacy practices. Further, the discrepancies between Villachuato citizens' priorities and those of their schools suggest important implications for educational policy on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
Ethnography; Literacy; Mexico; Migration; Women
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
English; Graduate College
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Committee Chair:
Hall, Anne-Marie

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoENen_US
dc.titleDel Otro Lado: Constructions of Literacy in Rural Mexico and the Effects of Transnational Migrationen_US
dc.creatorMeyers, Susan Virginiaen_US
dc.contributor.authorMeyers, Susan Virginiaen_US
dc.date.issued2009en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractThis dissertation is a nine-month ethnographic study of migrant families' literacies and corresponding value systems. Specifically, while I found that formal education is strongly valued among Mexican migrant groups, it is considered more a marker of prestige than a means to self-realization or economic improvement. In turn, socially transmitted skills and consejos (advice) are more important to migrant communities' survival and personal and material advancement. In order to demonstrate the role of social literacies and the irony that schooled literacy takes in the lives of many rural Mexicans, I trace the historical development of my field site, the town of Villachuato in the state of Michoacán, from its inception as a Spanish-owned hacienda, through its liberation and subsequent small-scale farming initiatives following the Mexican Revolution, and on into the current history of those farms' failure as a result of transnational economic influences like NAFTA. While more and more members of the Villachuato community are being pushed across the Mexico-U.S. border in search of work, public school teachers in rural Mexico are frustrated by rising drop-out rates and perceived student apathy. However, while teachers advocate formal education as the best means of self-improvement, students in Villachuato schools do not find the curriculum relevant to their lives. Rather, they adopt those schooled lessons that they find helpful (i.e., reading and writing skills that help them read street signs and navigate government and commercial bureaucracies); but they actively resist the value systems of meritocracy and personal identity development implicit in public education. By considering the ways in which local communities interface with dominant institutional literacies, this study supports efforts within the New Literacy Studies to unpack the complexities of globalized literacy practices. Further, the discrepancies between Villachuato citizens' priorities and those of their schools suggest important implications for educational policy on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectEthnographyen_US
dc.subjectLiteracyen_US
dc.subjectMexicoen_US
dc.subjectMigrationen_US
dc.subjectWomenen_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineEnglishen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.chairHall, Anne-Marieen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberHall, Anne-Marieen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberHea, Amy Kimmeen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberLicona, Adelaen_US
dc.identifier.proquest10238en_US
dc.identifier.oclc752259922en_US
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