Motherhood across Borders

Immigrants and Their Children in Mexico and New York

272 pages

14 illustrations

July, 2018

ISBN: 9781479866465



Add to Cart Available: 6/29/2018

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Gabrielle Oliveira is Assistant Professor at Boston College Lynch School of Education. 

All books by Gabrielle Oliveira

Winner, 2019 Inaugural Outstanding Ethnography Book Award, given by the Ethnography in Education Research Forum
The stories of Mexican migrant women who parent from afar, and how their transnational families stay together 

While we have an incredible amount of statistical information about immigrants coming in and out of the United States, we know very little about how migrant families stay together and raise their children. Beyond the numbers, what are the everyday experiences of families with members on both sides of the border?  

Focusing on Mexican women who migrate to New York City and leave children behind, Motherhood across Borders examines parenting from afar, as well as the ways in which separated siblings cope with different experiences across borders.  Drawing on more than three years of ethnographic research, Gabrielle Oliveira offers a unique focus on the many consequences of maternal migration.

Oliveira illuminates the life trajectories of separated siblings, including their divergent educational paths, and the everyday struggles that undocumented mothers go through in order to figure out how to be a good parent to all of their children, no matter where they live. Despite these efforts, the book uncovers the far-reaching effects of maternal migration that influences both the children who accompany their mothers to New York City, and those who remain in Mexico.  

With more mothers migrating without their children in search of jobs, opportunities, and the hope of creating a better life for their families, Motherhood across Borders is an invaluable resource for scholars, educators, and anyone with an interest in the current dynamics of U.S immigration.


  • "In this astute and sensitive ethnography, Oliveira does a remarkable job of capturing the poignant, mundane, tragic, and frustrating aspects of mothering from afar. The Mexican migrant women in her book spend their lives caring-- for children  and other family members back home, family members in New York City, and often other people’s children, too--but all of their caring is not capable of fully bridging the distance or healing family ties broken by cruel immigration policies. If early studies of transnationalism made us optimistic that technology could link diasporic communities, this book reminds us that even in an era of Facetime and Facebook, migration involves separation. The difficult negotiations between mothers, other caregivers, and children, as well as between children (often siblings who have never met), are portrayed with compassion and sensitivity."

    —Alyshia Gálvez, Professor of Latin American and Latino Studies at Lehman College/CUNY

  • "Motherhood across Borders is a vivid and engaging ethnography about how mothers, grandmothers, caregivers, and children fare when they are divided by, but also connected despite, the U.S.-Mexico border. Focusing on the voices of those directly impacted—people of all ages, across generations, and in both Mexico and the United States—Oliveira provides an intimate portrayal of the ways that motherhood, and caregiving more generally, is shifting in transnational context."

    —Deborah A. Boehm, author of Returned: Going and Coming in an Age of Deportation