Children Crossing Borders

Latin American Migrant Childhoods

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The Americas are witnessing an era of unprecedented human mobility. With their families or unaccompanied, children are part of this immense movement of people. Children Crossing Borders explores the different meanings of the lives of borderland children in the Americas. It addresses migrant children’s struggle to build a sense of belonging while they confront racism and estrangement on a daily basis.

Unified in their common interest in the well-being of children, the contributors bring an unrivaled breadth of experience and research to offer a transnational, multidimensional, and multilayered look at migrant childhoods in Latin America. Organized around three main themes—educational experiences; literature, art and culture, and media depictions; and the principle of the “best interest of the child”—this work offers both theoretical and practical approaches to the complexity of migrant childhood. The essays discuss family and school lives, children’s experience as wage laborers, and the legislation and policies that affect migrants.

This volume draws much-needed attention to the plight of migrant children and their families, illuminating the human and emotional toll that children experience as they crisscross the Americas. Exploring the connections between education, policy, cultural studies, and anthropology, the essays in this volume navigate a space of transnational children’s rights central to Latin American life in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Marissa Bejarano-Fernbaugh
Nancie Bouchard
Lina M. Caswell
Irasema Coronado
Valentina Glockner
Alejandra J. Josiowicz
Patrícia Nabuco Martuscelli
María Inés Pacecca
Martha Rodríguez-Cruz
Emily Ruehs-Navarro
Kathleen Tacelosky
Élisabeth Vallet


Part I. Educational Experiences on the Borders
1. Children of Return Migrants Crossing the Linguistic and Cultural Border in the Mexico–United States Context 000
Kathleen Tacelosky
2. Be the Buffalo: Working for ELL Success in the South
Marissa Bejarano-Fernbaugh
3. Mobility, Racism, and Cultural Borders: Immigrant and Returned Children from the United States in the Schools of Oaxaca, Mexico
Marta Rodríguez-Cruz

Part II. Children on the Border in Literature, Art, and Culture
4. A Civil Rights Pedagogy on Children on the Borders: The Search to Belong in Latin American and Latinx Children’s and Young Adult Literature
Alejandra Josiowicz
5. The Border as a Pedagogical Object in an Integrative and Multidisciplinary Learning Approach 000
Élisabeth Vallet and Nancie Bouchard
6. “If They Catch Me Today, I’ll Come Back Tomorrow”: Young Border Crossers’ Experiences and Embodied Knowledge in the Sonora-Arizona Borderlands
Valentina Glockner

Part III. Best Interests of the Child Crossing Borders
7. Family Reunification and Childhoods: Is Brazil Guaranteeing the Best Interests of “Refugee” Children?
Patrícia Nabuco Martuscelli
8. Unaccompanied Undocumented Immigrant Children and the Structural and Legal Violence of the U.S. Immigration System: A View from the Child Advocate
Lina M. Caswell and Emily Ruehs-Navarro
9. U.S.-Citizen Children of Deportees in Mexico and in the United States: So Close and Yet So Far
Irasema Coronado
10. Working in Argentina: Bolivian Children in Garment Workshops, Vegetable Farms, Stores, and Domestic Work
María Inés Pacecca

“In a strikingly original and innovative approach to one of the most pressing issues confronting children globally—the lives and well-being of migrant children—the authors bring an intersectional, global, and universalist perspective to understanding the experiences of child migrants through literature, art, pedagogy, policy analysis, and case studies.”—Mark Lusk, co-editor of Social Justice in the U.S. Mexico Border Region

“The attentive, sensitive essays in this book invite reflection on the experiences of migrant children and young people in the multifaceted Latin American context, illuminating how these individuals negotiate, interpolate, resignify, and reinvent the border zones that constitute and penetrate their lives. The discussions in this collection will most certainly appeal to scholars and activists, as well as to any professionals directly concerned with issues of migration and with the promotion of the human rights of children and young people. Texts will also be of great value to readers who wish to approach the field from a bottom-up perspective—one centered on the views offered by young migrants in interaction with researchers.”—Rosana Kohl Bines, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro

“Editors Josiowicz (Rio de Janeiro State Univ., Brazil) and Coronado (Arizona State Univ.) bring together 10 international scholars to probe the plight of child immigrants seeking refuge and asylum at the US-Mexico border and other borders in the hemisphere, such as between Argentina and Bolivia. They are especially concerned about the human and emotional toll on unaccompanied child migrants as they navigate national bureaucracies relating to immigration, schooling, and social institutions.”—E. Hu-DeHart, CHOICE Connect

“The authors of this edited volume collectively argue migrant children and minors who cross borders, often unaccompanied, have agency in their migratory experience despite facing dangerous journeys, relying on questionable transactions with coyotes, or enduring violence at the hands of drug cartels and immigration officials. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in migration studies, youth studies, childhood studies, border studies, educational policy studies, hemispheric American studies, Latin American studies, bilingual/bicultural studies, and US Latinx studies.”—Rodolfo Aguilar, H-Net Reviews in the Humanities & Social Sciences

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