Unjacketed Hardcover

Abrazando el Espíritu

Bracero Families Confront the US-Mexico Border

Ana Elizabeth Rosas (Author)

Available worldwide

Unjacketed Hardcover, 285 pages
ISBN: 9780520282667
September 2014
$70.00, £51.95
Other Formats Available:
Structured to meet employers’ needs for low-wage farm workers, the well-known Bracero Program recruited thousands of Mexicans to perform physical labor in the United States between 1942 and 1964 in exchange for remittances sent back to Mexico. As partners and family members were dispersed across national borders, interpersonal relationships were transformed. The prolonged absences of Mexican workers, mostly men, forced women and children at home to inhabit new roles, create new identities, and cope with long-distance communication from fathers, brothers, and sons.

Drawing on an extraordinary range of sources, Ana Elizabeth Rosas uncovers a previously hidden history of transnational family life. Intimate and personal experiences are revealed to show how Mexican immigrants and their families were not passive victims but instead found ways to embrace the spirit (abrazando el espíritu) of making and implementing difficult decisions concerning their family situations—creating new forms of affection, gender roles, and economic survival strategies with long-term consequences.
List of Illustrations

Part One: Emergencies
1. Bracero Recruitment in the Mexican Countryside, 1942–1947
2. The Bracero Program as a Permanent State of Emergency
3. Special Immigration and the Management of the Mexican Family, 1949–1959
Part Two: Love and Longing
4. Government Censorship of Family Communication, 1942–1964
5. In Painful Silence: The Untold Emotional Work of Long-Distance Romantic Relationships and Marriages, 1957–1964
6. Hidden from History: Photo Stories of Love
Part Three: Decisive Measures
7. Awake Houses and Mujeres Intermediarias(Intermediary Women), 1958–1964
8. Ejemplar y sín Igual (Exemplary and without Equal): The Loss of Childhood, 1942–1964
9. Decididas y Atrevidas (Determined and Daring): In Search of Answers, 1947–1964
Epilogue: The Generative Potential of Thinking and Acting Historically

Ana Elizabeth Rosas is Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the departments of History and Chicano-Latino Studies at the University of California, Irvine.
"This is not just another book on the bracero “guest worker” program . . . Rosas fills a huge gap in the scholarship by focusing on the women and children of the families left behind . . . [and] humanizes Mexican migrant male workers."—E. Hu-DeHart CHOICE
"In an age when political rhetoric regularly characterizes temporary migrant laborers as direly threatening to the American economy and way of life, Rosas’s insistence upon their humanity provides a vital counterweight that is as well a salutary contribution to the fields of Mexican American, migration, gender and family, and social history studies."—Canada and the United States
"With profound nuance, Ana Rosas provides a searing, intimate history of the women and children left behind during the Bracero Program and the subsequent ruptures that span generations. A landmark transnational study, Abrazando el Espíritu speaks volumes about the hidden costs to Mexican families as it takes readers on journeys of possibility, pain, and resilience. With each turn of the page, Rosas powerfully demonstrates the relevance of historical insight and research to contemporary immigration policy." —Vicki L. Ruiz, author of From Out of the Shadows: Mexican Women in Twentieth-Century America

"What happens to the families of male labor migrants who go abroad to work? Ana Rosas examines the emotional costs borne by men, women, and children of the bracero era and families' strategies for coping and for seeking reunion. Their strategies were both creative and daring as they confronted U.S. and Mexican governmental power (border patrol, surveillance, welfare authorities) as well as conventional gender norms, transforming the nature of labor migration and the family in the process. Abrazando el Espíritu enlarges our knowledge and our hearts." —Mae Ngai, author of Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America

"This significant work offers a critically important assessment of the enduring force of U.S. border governance and labor regulation in determining the fortunes of working-class Mexican communities in both countries. Abrazando el Espíritu affirms the ardent struggle migrant communities have waged to assert their belonging—and the creativity they bring along with their sweat—beyond the fields and factories."—Alicia Schmidt Camacho, author of Migrant Imaginaries: Latino Cultural Politics in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

2014 Theodore Saloutos Memorial Book Award, Immigration and Ethnic History Society

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