Migranthood chronicles deportation from the perspectives of Indigenous youth who migrate unaccompanied from Guatemala to Mexico and the United States. In communities of origin in Guatemala, zones of transit in Mexico, detention centers for children in the U.S., government facilities receiving returned children in Guatemala, and communities of return, young people share how they negotiate everyday violence and discrimination, how they and their families prioritize limited resources and make difficult decisions, and how they develop and sustain relationships over time and space.
Anthropologist Lauren Heidbrink shows that Indigenous youth cast as objects of policy, not participants, are not passive recipients of securitization policies and development interventions. Instead, Indigenous youth draw from a rich social, cultural, and political repertoire of assets and tactics to navigate precarity and marginality in Guatemala, including transnational kin, social networks, and financial institutions. By attending to young people's perspectives, we learn the critical roles they play as contributors to household economies, local social practices, and global processes. The insights and experiences of young people uncover the transnational effects of securitized responses to migration management and development on individuals and families, across space, citizenship status, and generation. They likewise provide evidence to inform child protection and human rights locally and internationally.
About the author
Lauren Heidbrink is Associate Professor of Human Development at California State University, Long Beach. She is the author of Migrant Youth, Transnational Families, and the State: Care and Contested Interests (2014).
"Heidbrink brings nuance, clarity, and depth to the lived experiences of Indigenous youth fleeing violence, hunger, and lack of opportunity in Guatemala. Migranthood unpacks contemporary post-conflict political, economic, and criminal violence as markers of youth migration. A must-read for anyone who cares about migrant youth, and a wake-up call for policymakers recycling failed immigration and development policies."
—Victoria Sanford, City University of New York
"This gripping account of contemporary migration sheds much needed light on the experiences of unaccompanied Indigenous minors as they navigate border controls and violence. With keen insights and eloquent prose, Migranthood reveals the real-life consequences of securitization policies on the most vulnerable. An essential read."
—Roberto G. Gonzales, author of Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America
"[Heidbrink] offers rich portraits of young people eager to help their families through 'irregular migration' and ashamed of their failed attempts. Their stories are made more meaningful by Heidbrink's deft analysis of the historical abuse of indigenous groups by Guatemalan political and economic elites....This nuanced assessment suggests the narrowness of increasingly securitizing policy making and denying families' cultural and economic realities. Recommended."
—M. Morrissey, CHOICE
"[A] poignant juxtaposition of the contrasting perspectives of migrant youth and the multiple governmental and non-governmental authorities, both in Guatemala and the United States, responsible for migration management. By weaving the detailed chronicles of migration and deportation provided by youth with the discourses circulating in legal, medical, and humanitarian interventions, Heidbrink effectively debunks reductionist images of monolithic depictions of migranthood.'"
—Virginia Diez and Jayanthi Mistry, Teachers College Record
"[This book] makes key contributions to methodology and scholarly debates and is a must-read for scholars and students of international migration, development, and childhood studies....Migranthood is an ambitious book that lays the groundwork for future research to continue investigating the contradictory effects of the link between development and migration, and the perspectives and roles of youths as independent migratory actors embedded in larger communities."
—Chiara Galli, Ethnic and Racial Studies
"Migranthood validates youth agency, clearly making connections between systemic failures in immigration policy, securitization, and development. It is a much-needed contribution that gives depth not only to the consequences of migration and deportation beyond youth and their families but also to how the effects reverberate across communities, temporally and spatially."
—Diane Sabenacio Nititham, Jeunesse
"[A] robust understanding of youth migration....[Anchored] in an honest and systematic effort to listen to, understand, and learn from the migration experiences of Indigenous youth, Heidbrink's skillfully crafted arguments challenge many dominant frameworks."
—María V. Barbero, Children's Geographies
"[Heidbrink] contributes important insights regarding how policy affects migrant youths' experiences pre- and post deportation. This text has the potential to engage interdisciplinary audiences in education, sociology, and anthropology as well as scholars wanting to challenge misconceptions of migration and its impact on youth, families, and communities."
—Sophia Rodriguez, Anthropology and Education Quarterly
"[A] methodologically sophisticated study.It captures the tragic social cost of displacement and deportation from the view of Indigenous youth, as well as their efforts to understand and resist the old and new forms of dispossession and exploitation they experience."
—Alison Elizabeth Lee, Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology
"As I was reading Migranthood, record numbers of child migrants were arriving at the southern border of the United States, the vast majority from Central America. I was immediately struck by how clearly Heidbrink's analysis of migranthood – the complex political and social construction of migration – critically responded to the simplistic narratives presented in the media. Heidbrink's theoretical framework has given me a much more nuanced lens to bring to the so-called "border crisis" and the media and political representations of it.... Beautifully and clearly written, this is a book of urgent theoretical and political importance."
—Leah Schmalzbauer, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books