Sueños Salvadoreños: Struggles to Build Other Futures in El Salvador's Migration Landscape Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Wiltberger, Joseph L.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Anthropology
  • Since El Salvador's 1980-1992 civil war, the Salvadoran state has embraced a discourse and political economic strategy that favor international migration and remittances for development. Born out of El Salvador's long history of inequality, memory erasure, and exclusion of marginalized populations, this state-led project of migration and development assumes that the economic changes and identities linked to international migration and remittances are a sign of progress, as long as migrants and their communities appropriately engage with global capitalist flows to benefit development, mainly through productive remittance investment in places of origin. This dissertation examines how this project, and the developmentalist and neoliberal logics and practices that guide it, are contested and challenged in networked and community-based ways. It uses a networked ethnographic lens that follows the experience of one rural community in northern El Salvador and its migrants in the United States, who come from a region known for both community organizing and displacement, to highlight the existence and potentiality of diverse logics and practices linked to migration and development, including those that take on non-capitalist, collectivist, and communal forms. This research shows how people continue to make and reconstitute community, by networking across borders, engaging in communal practices, and rooting community in place and in a sense of collective history, even as they navigate conditions of international migration and displacement that are not of their choosing. These practices and logics of community, this dissertation argues, challenge the state's developmentalist framework on international migration, and they make way for other kinds of futures than undocumented emigration and remittance-led development. Based on engagements with cross-border networks of political actors and migrant-community activists, this study suggests that these practices are tied to a broader political shift recently to push for alternatives to undocumented emigration, to rework the state's approach to migration and development, and to rethink the meaning of Salvadoran migration in national discourse.
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  • In Copyright
  • Escobar, Arturo
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Graduation year
  • 2013

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