Nadia Y. Flores-Yeffal – Migration-Trust Networks: Social Cohesion in Mexican U.S.-Bound Emigration


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Seminar to be held on Tuesday, June 5th in ERC 115 at 12:30 pm

In this research, Professor Nadia Y. Flores-Yeffal uses ethnographic longitudinal data collected in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico as well as the U.S. to introduce the concept of Migration-Trust Networks (MTN) from a transnational perspective. The concept contributes to the existing social capital theories of international migration by defining the particularities that characterize the social networks of migration in which a large number of migrants from Mexico to the U.S. lack legal documentation. She specifies membership requirements to participate in a MTN for those who migrate from rural and urban places of origin. Religion, paisanaje, bounded solidarity, and enforceable trust are among the social mechanisms that influence the behavior of network participants to act collectively, trust one another, and offer mutual support in the challenges of migration. Assisting fellow migrants is expected of MTN members, while reciprocating the assistance is not. Instead, a form of risk pooling occurs in which migrants “return” favors by helping future migrants. The social structure of a MTN and the dependency on relationships of trust among its members allow for collective efficacy to form and serve as a safe haven for those who lack legal documents. Social expectations and social monitoring are maintained in the transnational context using modern technology such as cell phones and the internet. Flores-Yeffal provides a theoretical and empirical proposition of how and why the Migration-Trust Networks are able to expand by absorbing new members in a process she calls “the MTN effect.” She also argues that micro and macro social forces function simultaneously in the transnational context in order to develop, expand and/or transplant Migration-Trust Networks.

Nadia Y. Flores-Yeffal is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Texas A&M University. She received her B.A. in Social Science from University of California Irvine, her M.A. in Demography and Ph.D. in Sociology from University of Pennsylvania. Her primary research interests include social capital, segregation, and transnational ties among Latin-American immigrants in the U.S., the role of modern technology in spreading anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S., as well as the upward mobility of Latinos in the United States. Her research has been supported through her affiliation with the Mexican Migration Project and the Latin-American Migration Project at Princeton University, by the Mellon Foundation, “Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología” (CONACYT), and by the Mexican American and U.S. Latino Research Center at Texas A&M University. Her first book, entitled Migration-Trust Networks: social cohesion in Mexican-U.S. bound emigration, is being published by Texas A&M University Press. She is also currently writing her second book on international migration from El Salvador.