Ana Elizabeth Rosas, author of Abrazando el Espiritu: Bracero Families Confront the US-Mexico Border, spoke to David-James Gonzoles of New Books in American Studies this weekend. Ana Rosas is Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the departments of History and Chicano-Latino Studies at the University of California, Irvine
Abrazando el Espiritu (“embracing the spirit”), a study of the 1942 Bracero Program established between the U.S. and Mexican governments, navigates the deep impact that it had upon transnational Mexican immigrant families. Rosas’ book draws both from official government archives and family histories such as photographs, love letters, popular music, and oral histories in order to provide a closer, more personal understanding of the lives of these Bracero families and the challenges that they faced.
In this lengthy interview, she speaks about how she came to study her field, the link between the lives of Bracero families and those of contemporary migrant workers, the process of acquiring interviews and bringing the personal histories of families into her work, and the important role that love and connection play in understanding the historical moment of her study.
“A truly landmark study,” says Gonzoles, “Abrazando el Espiritu deepens our understanding of the costs of transnational labor migration on families and the efforts undertaken by women, children, men, and the elderly to preserve familial bonds amidst government surveillance and abandonment.”