Living in two worlds? Guatemalan-origin children in the United States and emerging transnationalism

Cecilia Menjívar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


This paper examines the possibilities for transnational activities among the 1.5 and second generations and focuses on the effects of both social positions, such as class and ethnicity and receiving and sending state actions and policies on the potential for the maintenance of these generations' transnational ties. Empirically it is based on the experiences of poor Guatemalan indigenous and non-indigenous children living in Los Angeles - who are often members of 'transnational families' - as seen through the institutional spaces of the church and the maintenance of language. The study demonstrates that class and ethnicity affect the perceptions that the children's generations have of their parents' efforts to keep them connected to their places of origin, and argues that the nation-state, through its policies to limit movement across borders, is still a powerful actor that leads immigrants to focus on the host countries, particularly the children's generations. In the Guatemalan case there are only few opportunities and spaces that may foster the children's ties to the communities of origin; thus, this generation is not nearly as inclined as the parents' to remain linked to the origin communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)531-552
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


  • Guatemalan immigrants
  • Language
  • Los Angeles
  • Religion
  • Second generation
  • Transnationalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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