Migranthood chronicles deportation from the perspectives of Indigenous youth who migrate unaccompanied from Guatemala to Mexico and the United States. In communities of origin in Guatemala, zones of transit in Mexico, detention centers for children in the U.S., government facilities receiving returned children in Guatemala, and communities of return, young people share how they negotiate everyday violence and discrimination, how they and their families prioritize limited resources and make difficult decisions, and how they develop and sustain relationships over time and space.
Anthropologist Lauren Heidbrink shows that Indigenous youth cast as objects of policy, not participants, are not passive recipients of securitization policies and development interventions. Instead, Indigenous youth draw from a rich social, cultural, and political repertoire of assets and tactics to navigate precarity and marginality in Guatemala, including transnational kin, social networks, and financial institutions. By attending to young people's perspectives, we learn the critical roles they play as contributors to household economies, local social practices, and global processes. The insights and experiences of young people uncover the transnational effects of the securitized responses to migration management and development on individuals and families, across space, citizenship status, and generation. They likewise provide evidence to inform child protection and human rights locally and internationally.
"This gripping account of contemporary migration sheds much needed light on the experiences of unaccompanied Indigenous minors as they navigate border controls and violence. With keen insights and eloquent prose, Migranthood reveals the real-life consequences of securitization policies on the most vulnerable. An essential read."
Roberto G. Gonzales
author of Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America
"Heidbrink brings nuance, clarity, and depth to the lived experiences of Indigenous youth fleeing violence, hunger, and lack of opportunity in Guatemala. Migranthood unpacks contemporary post-conflict political, economic, and criminal violence as markers of youth migration. A must-read for anyone who cares about migrant youth, and a wake-up call for policymakers recycling failed immigration and development policies."
City University of New York