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Motherhood Across Borders: Mexican Immigrants and their Children in Mexico and in New York City

Global Education Colloquium

October 21, 2020
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Gabrielle Oliveira, PhD
Boston College 

While we have an incredible amount of statistical information about immigrants coming in and out of the United States, we know very little about how migrant families stay together and raise their children. Beyond the numbers, what are the everyday experiences of families with members on both sides of the border? Focusing on Mexican women who migrate to New York City and leave children behind, Dr. Oliveira shares insights from her book, Motherhood across Borders, to examine parenting from afar and the role education plays, as well as the ways in which separated siblings cope with different experiences across borders. Drawing on more than three years of ethnographic research, Dr. Oliveira offers a unique focus on the many consequences of maternal migration. She illuminates the life trajectories of separated siblings, including their divergent educational paths, and the everyday struggles that undocumented mothers go through in order to figure out how to be a good parent to all of their children, no matter where they live. Despite these efforts, the book uncovers the far-reaching effects of maternal migration that influences both the children who accompany their mothers to New York City, and those who remain in Mexico.

Dr. Gabrielle Oliveira is assistant professor of foundations of education at the Lynch School of Education and Human Development at Boston College. Her research focuses on immigration and mobility—on how people move, adapt, and parent across borders. Her expertise includes gender, anthropology, transnationalism in Latin America. Merging the fields of anthropology and education through ethnographic work in multiple countries, Dr. Oliveira also studies the educational trajectories of immigrant and first and second generation children. She received her bachelor’s degree in her native Brazil and earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from Teachers College and Columbia University, where she was also a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Dissertation. Dr. Oliveira has recently published Motherhood Across Borders: Immigrants and Their Children in Mexico and New York (2018) by NYU Press that won the Inaugural Outstanding Book Award in Ethnography at the Penn Ethnography Forum. Dr. Oliveira was also a 2018 Concha Delgado Gaitan Presidential Fellow awarded by the Council of Anthropology and Education. She is also the co-founder of the group Colectiva Infancias, a Latin America group of women scholars who study migration of children across the Americas. The group was recently awarded a grant by The National Geographic Foundation to assemble an online mosaic of migrant children’s experiences. Dr. Oliveira lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two children.