The Imagined Return: Hope and Imagination among International Migrants from Rural Mexico (Working Paper #169)

Javier Serrano, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, UC San Diego

Abstract: Migrants from rural Mexico usually move abroad with the idea to return once they have improved their economic situation. Although they do not always go back, Mexican migrants often plan their return before leaving. In any case, the imagined return persists for a long time in their minds. This paper analyzes the ways in which rural migrants from southern Veracruz and western Mexico imagine a better future, a future only made possible by migration. Therefore, these powerful images of a more prosperous tomorrow inspire migrants to move abroad. As an alternative to different perspectives that treat migration basically or exclusively as a demographic or economic phenomenon, I suggest that massive migration is motivated essentially by hope. And it always involves optimistic ideas about the future. From this perspective migrants are conceived with a more human face. Hope and imagination are rooted in migrants’ hometowns.

Working Paper #169 »