Mexico Flotante: Migration, Culture, and National Identity in Post-Revolutionary Mexico



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This dissertation examines the cultural impact of transnational migration at the intersections of race, class, and gender within Mexico from 1929 to the present. Reading the cultural production of Mexicans as text, this study utilizes music, film, and literature as primary sources alongside oral histories, and archival research from Mexico and the United States. I argue that the popular culture and media is both reflective of the migrant experience and contributes to the development of a transnational identity which challenges the official narrative of Mexican nationalism. In the post-revolutionary period, the Mexican government promoted a nationalism rooted in the racial identity of mestizaje, the social values of the middle class, and a gendered patriarchal order. Mexican labor migration to the United States de-territorializes national identity both for the migrants and the communities they leave behind. This lived experience combined with the media and cultural production which reflects Mexican migration serves to normalize the experience of movement, creating a sense of transnational identity for communities on both sides of the border even when one has never experienced the process of migration. Examining the role of migration in defining national identity complicates the official narrative to reveal that communities touched by migration develop a sense of rootedness in Mexico while simultaneously imagining a transnational existence.



Modern Mexico, Mexico, Migration, Nationalism, Popular culture, Identity