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Feminist border praxis: Exploring racialized citizenship, national belonging and gender reproduction in Yakima Valley

Serena Mauer. “Feminist border praxis: Exploring racialized citizenship, national belonging and gender reproduction in Yakima Valley.” Diss. U of Washington, 2006.

This dissertation employs a feminist border praxis to explore the government, or the ways in which people shape their own and others' conduct through particular discourses and practices, of Mexican migration and settlement in Washington State's Yakima Valley. As a form of feminist praxis, it employs transnational feminist analyses of race, class, gender, nation and sexuality in the intertwining work of furthering knowledge and creating a better world. As an example of border praxis, it takes the discursive and material production of borders in the Yakima Valley as its focus as the dissertation itself is produced from a set of disciplinary, political and theoretical borders between social scientific and cultural studies methodologies, U.S. anti-racist and transnational feminism, and structuralist and poststructuralist analytics.

The study analyzes the ways in which residents of the Yakima Valley are reproducing and rewriting borders between "Americans" and Mexican immigrants through discourses of citizenship, national belonging and reproduction. It conducts this analysis through a multi-sited ethnography that works across two primary sites: debates over immigration in the principal local English-language newspaper and interviews with Mexican migrant women living in the Yakima Valley. It argues that this rebordering must be made sense of in relationship to the ways in which Mexican migrants are increasingly embedded in local social, cultural and economic relations. This embeddedness is linked to recent shifts in a century-long pattern of Mexican migration to the Valley for farm labor. These shifts include a rise in Mexican migrants' long-term or permanent settlement in the region, increasing numbers of Mexican women migrating to the area, and the particular labor space Mexican migrant women are occupying within Yakima Valley agricultural packing and processing plants.

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