Citizenship across Borders: The Political Transnationalism of El Migrante

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Michael Peter Smith and Matt Bakker spent five years carrying out ethnographic field research in multiple communities in the Mexican states of Zacatecas and Guanajuato and various cities in California, particularly metropolitan Los Angeles. Combining the information they gathered there with political-economic and institutional analysis, the five extended case studies in Citizenship across Borders offer a new way of looking at the emergent dynamics of transnational community development and electoral politics on both sides of the border. Smith and Bakker highlight the continuing significance of territorial identifications and state policies-particularly those of the sending state-in cultivating and sustaining transnational connections and practices. In so doing, they contextualize and make sense of the complex interplay of identity and loyalty in the lives of transnational migrant activists. In contrast to high-profile warnings of the dangers to national cultures and political institutions brought about by long-distance nationalism and dual citizenship, Citizenship across Borders demonstrates that, far from undermining loyalty and diminishing engagement in U.S. political life, the practice of dual citizenship by Mexican migrants actually provides a sense of empowerment that fosters migrants' active civic engagement in American as well as Mexican politics.