Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Migration, Mexico, Transnational, Family, Activism

Major Advisor

Manisha Desai

Associate Advisor

Bandana Purkayastha

Associate Advisor

Davita Silfen Glasberg

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


This dissertation examines a transnational Mexican community that spans Tlaxcala, Mexico, and Connecticut, U.S.A. I focus on women in Tlaxcala who are part of a grassroots organization and engage in activism to maintain, and in some cases, re-establish a relationship with their family members, mainly adult children, who are living as undocumented migrants in Connecticut and New York City. I concentrate on a sending community to elucidate women’s contributions to broader transnational processes. I also analyze the effects of activism in their lives, mainly how theater affects their household and relationships. The research draws on seven years (2011-2018) of qualitative research conducted with multiple qualitative methods, including: seventy qualitative interviews, ethnographic observations in Tlaxcala and Connecticut, and finally, scholar-activist participation.

The contributions are as follows. First, I situate the migration patterns from Tlaxcala to Connecticut and New York City within the broader historical framework of neoliberal Mexico. I trace the history of the Indigenous Migrant Family Support House (IMFSH) to elucidate links to broader indigenous movements such as the Zapatista Movement in Chiapas, Mexico, and indigenous cultural revitalization efforts. Second, I show how women in sending communities are active in transnational processes through activism. I show that women exercise agency and redefine transnational motherhood to fit their needs. Third, I examine how cultural productions, mainly plays developed using Theater of the Oppressed, enable women’s empowerment. Finally, I show how scholar-activist methodologies allow for a deeper understanding of transnational activism and pose ethical dilemmas.

Available for download on Thursday, August 08, 2030