For generations, immigrants from the Mexican town of Jalostotitlán, Jalisco, have migrated between their native community — which they call “Jalos” — and Turlock in the Central Valley.
University of California, Riverside sociologist Alfredo Mirandé examines this circular pattern of migration and how the ability of these migrants to stay connected to their native roots facilitates success in the United States in his book, “Jalos USA: Transnational Community and Identity.”
In “Jalos, USA” Mirandé explores the complexities which immigrants experience upon their migration between Jalostotitlán, Jalisco, and Turlock. A professor of sociology and ethnic studies at the University of California, Riverside, Mirandé was inspired to write the book as a further examination of his social and cultural interests.
“The book evolved from my interest in gender and in family. I had written a couple of books already on those topics but I wanted to see how gender relations changed as a result of migration,” explained Mirandé.
Made possible through a grant from the UC Mexus-Conacyt, a joint program between the University of California and a Mexican agency for science and technology, Mirandé left the classroom to perform hands on research interviewing residents of both Jalos and Turlock.
Initially struck by the amount of people migrating to Turlock rather than other popular areas in the East Bay, Mirandé discovered that Turlock allowed the immigrants to recreate their cultural home space most accurately. The annual Fiesta De La Virgen De La Asuncion celebrations, which occur in both Turlock and Jalos, proved an ideal celebration to examine.
“The fiestas are not only a way of celebrating your roots and culture, but what happens is that the fiestas also become a dating and marriage market,” said Mirandé
Mirandé conducted in-depth personal interviews as well as focus groups to understand not only the individual’s experience but the changes one undergoes in courtship rituals among other major life changes. Mirandé also researched not only how immigrants retain their identity in a foreign place but the perception that natives have of those across the border.
“What I found interesting is that both youth feel that there is more freedom on the other side of the border,” said Mirandé.
While Jalos youth feel there is more freedom in the United States regarding sexual norms, those in the U.S. were impressed by the less strict drinking laws and the ability to drive without a license in Jalos.
By compiling information on a multitude of aspects of life, Mirandé also explored participants’ testimonies against the backdrop of circular migration patterns as those who come to the U.S. from Jalos often desire to ultimately return to Mexico.
“They see the USA as a land of opportunity and a place that if you will work you can succeed. In Mexico if you want to work hard and succeed, the opportunities just aren’t there,” said Mirandé.
The book is available in both paper and e-book editions at:http://undpress.nd.edu/books/P03121#description