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The Ambivalence of Belonging: Children of Indigenous Immigrants in the United States

Ortiz, Laura Velasco

Sociologus, Vol. 67 (2017), Iss. 2: pp. 171–190

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El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, A.C. Km 18.5 Carretera Escénica Tijuana - Ensenada San Antonio del Mar Tijuana, Baja California, México C.P. 22560


The aim of this article is to analyse the construction of a sense of belonging among the children of Indigenous immigrants who work in agriculture in the U.S. state of California in light of research that focuses on childhood and youth mobility as well as on new forms of political organization in the United States. Three lines of inquiry are developed throughout the text intersected by a gender analysis: 1. the mobility experienced by the children in the context of their family’s migration as part of the exploitation system of global agriculture; 2. the unequal access of children and young people to schooling due to their class condition combined with racialization mechanisms produced by teachers’ low expectations of their scholarly performance; and 3. the construction of ambivalent senses of belonging developed by a double logic of cultural criticism and resignification of gender and ethnic bases. This recovered sense of belonging emerges through their political participation in youth and communitarian groups. The article is based on empirical field work with 1.5- and second-generation immigrant Indigenous children in California between 2000 and 2014.