Mexicans in Alaska


Mexicans in Alaska

An Ethnography of Mobility, Place, and Transnational Life

Sara V. Komarnisky

Anthropology of Contemporary North America Series

300 pages
8 photographs, 1 figure, 3 maps, 3 tables, index


July 2018


$30.00 Add to Cart

July 2018


$60.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
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July 2018


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

July 2018


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About the Book

Mexicans in Alaska analyzes the mobility and experience of place of three generations of migrants who have been moving between Acuitzio del Canje, Michoacán, Mexico, and Anchorage, Alaska, since the 1950s. Based on Sara V. Komarnisky’s twelve months of ethnographic research at both sites and on more than ten years of engagement with the people in these locations, this book reveals that over time, Acuitzences have created a comprehensive sense of orientation within a transnational social field. Both locations and the common experience of mobility between them are essential for feeling “at home.” This migrant way of life requires the development of a transnational habitus as well as the skills, statuses, and knowledge required to live in both places. Komarnisky’s work presents a multigenerational and cross-continental understanding of the contemporary transnational experience.

Mexicans in Alaska examines how Acuitzences are living, working, and imagining their futures across North America and suggests that anthropologists look across borders to see how broader structural conditions operate both within and across national boundaries. Understanding the experiences of transnational migrants remains a critical goal of contemporary scholarship, and Komarnisky’s analysis of the complicated lives of three generations of migrants provides depth to the field.


Author Bio

​Sara V. Komarnisky is a postdoctoral fellow in history at the University of Alberta, Edmonton.


"Sara Komarnisky provides a needed intervention in Latin American and Latinx studies through her ethnographic study of Mexicans in Alaska, an area severely understudied to date."—Jennifer Domino Rudolph, Americas

"Mexicans in Alaska is a comprehensive and humane consideration of the desirable qualities and underestimated ingenuity and rigors informing the mobility and place-making of Mexican people in Alaska and Acuitzio del Canje, pointing to the undervalued diversity from within shaping Mexican immigrant and Mexican American family investments and life throughout the United States and its history."—Ana E. Rosas, Alaska Journal of Anthropology

"I truly enjoyed reading this rich ethnography. It is thoroughly researched, and the writing is clear and engaging. It is also theoretically provocative and methodologically sophisticated."—Leah Schmalzbauer, Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies

“A solid contribution to social science scholarship. Its inclusion of three generations of migrants provides a nice depth of time not often found in ethnographic scholarship, and its focus on Alaska as part of ‘greater Mexico’ is a novel and important contribution to the scholarship on migration in the United States.”—Ruth Gomberg-Muñoz, associate professor of anthropology at Loyola University Chicago

Mexicans in Alaska enriches the study of migration through its lucid ethnography and theorizing. . . . By exploring the different dimensions of mobility across the continent in multigenerational networks, Mexicans in Alaska brings a new understanding to the social and material relations that extend between localities, not nations. An engaging ethnography.”—Lynn Stephen, Distinguished Professor of Arts and Sciences and professor of anthropology at the University of Oregon

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Acuitzences in Alaska
Introduction: Yes, There Are Mexicans in Alaska
1. Tracing Mexican Alaska: A Transnational Social Space
2. The Annual Migration of the Traveling Swallows: Shared Experiences of Mobility across North America
3. “My Grandfather Worked Here”: Three Generations of the Bravo Family in Alaska and Michoacán
4. “You Have to Get Used to It”: Living the North American Dream
5. The Stuff of Transnational Life: Suitcases Full of Mole, T-Shirts, Roosters, and Other Things That Move
6. “It Freezes the People Together”: Producing a Mexican Alaska
Conclusion: Freedom to Move

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