Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Nancy Naples and Bandana Purkayastha

Field of Study



Master of Arts

Open Access

Campus Access


In the last two decades scholars have added to our understanding of international migration by examining how gender shapes transnational migration and structures individuals’ experiences and participation in transnational social networks (Hondagneu- Sotelo 1994; Glick-Schiller et. al 1995; Purkayastha 2005; Smith 2006). A prominent theme in this scholarship is the nature of family dynamics (Hirsh 2003;Schmalzbauer 2005; Dreby 2010). These scholars argue that despite globalization and open borders for capital, tightly controlled borders for labor have pushed migrants to think of new and creative ways to maintain contact with their home communities. This study adds to this body of literature by identifying a new group of transnational mothers, those who are left behind after their children migrate who use art and culture for family reunification, as they are not sufficiently addressed in the literature. Drawing on 20 qualitative life-history interviews with women participants of an NGO in Mexico, and one month of ethnographic field work in Tlaxcala, Mexico I argue that by participating in theatre women are able to transmit messages of social justice concerning immigration, while simultaneously allowing them to achieve legal temporary family reunification.

Major Advisor

Manisha Desai