Mobile Selves

Race, Migration, and Belonging in Peru and the U.S.

336 pages

August, 2015

ISBN: 9781479803460



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Ulla D. Berg is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Latino Studies at Rutgers University (NJ). She has conducted extensive ethnographic research in the central highlands of Peru and among migrants from this area in the United States. She is the co-editor of Transnational Citizenship Across the Americas.

All books by Ulla D. Berg

An explanation of how Peruvian migrants maintain meaningful social relations across borders.

In this engaging volume, Ulla D. Berg examines the conditions under which Peruvians of rural and working-class origins leave the central highlands to migrate to the United States.  Migrants often create new portrayals of themselves to overcome the class and racial biases that they had faced in their home country, as well as to control the images they share of themselves with others back home. Migrant videos, for example, which document migrants’ lives for family back home, are often sanitized to avoid causing worry. 

By exploring the ways in which migration is mediated between the Peruvian Andes and the United States, this book makes a major contribution to understanding technology’s role in fostering new forms of migrant sociality and subjectivity. It focuses on the forms of sociality and belonging that these mediations enable, adding to important anthropological debates about affect, subjectivity, and sociality in today’s mobile world. It also makes significant contributions to studies of inequality in Latin America, showcasing the intersection of transnational mobility with structures and processes of exclusion in both national and global contexts. 

A key resource for understanding the experiences of racialized and indigenous migrant populations, Mobile Selves demonstrates the critical role that ethnography can play in transdisciplinary migration studies and exemplifies what comparative migration studies stand to gain from anthropological analysis and ethnographic methodologies.


  •  “Mobile Selves clearly shows that transitional migration is an important site for critically approaching belonging, inclusiveness, and citizenship within countries of origin as well as globally.”

    American Anthropologist

  • “In addition to Berg’s work being of major interest to academics in the growing area of transnational Andean and Latino studies, it also provides an insightful and nuanced analysis for humanities and social sciences scholars in other disciplines in addressing race, identity, performance and inequality.”

    Border Criminologies

  • “This [book] supported by some recent fieldwork and 16 pages of notes, 29 pages of references, 11 pages of index, and 13 photographs, will be of interest to all social scientists interested in this issue.”


  • “In a historical moment when Latin American economic development and proliferating communication technologies are changing the stakes and forms of transitional migration, Mobile Selves models the sophisticated ways scholars can integrate analyses of old and new media into their discussions of migration.”

    International Migration Review

  • "Berg's analysis of Peruvian racial formations in new and transforming contexts of transnational mobility offers new insights about the diversity of migration strategies and experiences of racialization in receiving countries. With beautiful ethnographic detail and thoughtful analysis of media circulation in particular, she lays out how migrants communicate their identities and aspirations."

    —Jessaca Leinaweaver, Brown University

  • “A highly original and compelling work, one that will receive a lot of attention. . . . I read it with great fascination."

    —Susan Coutin, University of California, Irvine