Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Sociology and Anthropology

Committee Chair(s)

Erin Trouth Hofmann


Erin Trouth Hofmann


Angela Castañeda


Jessica Schad


Gabriele Ciciurkaite


Angela Montague


The experiences of Latin American mothers from privileged backgrounds who live with their children, hold strong transnational ties, and are separated from the communities that can provide support in their motherhood journey has been understudied in the United States. This study looks at how migrant mothers with strong connections with their country of origin and destination think of themselves as mothers.

Using sociological theoretical and methodological approaches, I investigate the practices and beliefs about motherhood of a groups of 32 highly educated Colombian transmigrant mother and 14 of their closest living relative in Colombia. I conducted in-depth interviews with migrant mothers in the United States and their closest living relative in in Colombia. This allowed me to get a better understanding of the beliefs surrounding motherhood in Colombia.

There are three major parts in this study. The first part of the study investigated how mothers perceived migration as a liberating experience. Mothers defined “liberation” through how they lived class and gender relations while they lived in Colombia, combining them with the experience of being “Latinas” in the United States. I discuss how experiencing migration as liberation has the potential to generate social change around ideologies of race, gender, and class in origin and destination countries.

The second part of the study looked at how mothers’ class and race impact their migration history, motherhood identities, and childrearing practices. The findings dissect how Colombian transmigrant mothers seek to distance themselves from stereotypes that surround being “Latina” in the United States, by using Colombian beliefs around class.

The last part of the study, discusses how mothers’ beliefs and practices are shaped by the values received from Colombia and the United States. I discuss the role of their closest living relative and the transnational provision of care in relation to the beliefs around motherhood and how it changes through generations. I find that mothers actively defy and appropriate culturally-based definitions of motherhood in their daily practices to configure their practices and understandings of motherhood.



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