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'Cabecitas Blancas: The (in)Mobility of Borders and Notions of Citizenship for Yucatecan Migrant Families'
Laura Loyola Hernandez (University of Leeds)
In this paper, Dr Loyola Hernández will analyse the intersection of anti-migrant policies, institutional racism and arbitrary notions of citizenship by examining Cabecitas Blancas, a program run by the Yucatecan government to reunite families separated because of migration to the US. A unique program in Mexico, Cabecitas Blancas helps Maya elders who have not seen their children living in the United States for decades due to precarious immigration status. With this intervention, first she explores the ways in which notions of citizenship and the (in)ability to move in between borders are ongoing legacies of colonialism. Second, she examines the ways in which political changes in the US (with Trump) and Mexico (with AMLO) have impacted Cabecitas Blancas and immigration policies more broadly. Finally, she compares how the discourse about family separation has changed due to COVID-19. Countries such as Portugal have granted temporary citizenship to all migrants including undocumented people, Spain has closed its detention centres and allowed anyone (including migrants) to be able to apply for Universal Credit Income and Ireland has implemented a firewall between health services and immigration officers. These actions demonstrate how notions of citizenship are easily movable when the larger (white) population lives are in danger.
About the Speaker
Dr Laura Loyola-Hernández is a joint Senior Research Fellow and Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Leeds. Her interests are decolonial thought, feminist political geography and critical race studies with a focus on Latin America. Her research and teaching is based on a feminist decolonial perspective.
Her current project is sponsored by a British Academy Postdoctoral fellowship. This project examines the role emotions have in non-traditional political acts for women to be elected in indigenous communities in Yucatán, Mexico. That is, this project seeks to explore the role emotions have in indigenous customary politics. Emotions in politics is an emerging field in political geography. By concentrating in indigenous communitities, important questions can be answered, such as: how do politicians deal and perform emotions differently? What role do emotions play in the constitution of the gendered, racial and ethnic body? What kind of emotional performances are considered as appropriate in indigenous communities regarding politics? These types of questions give an insight into how politics is performed and lived in the everyday lives of constituents. It also sheds light into the complex and nuance dynamics that are involved in indigenous politics.
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