Transnational Identities, Migration, and Unequal Childhoods

Spring 2019
Class Size: 25
Credits per quarter

Compare offerings and share your lists with others.

Taught by

latinx studies, cultural studies, education

"Some newspapers announce the arrival of undocumented children as a biblical plague would be announced: Careful! [...] these menacing children with toasted skin, with slanted eyes and obsidian hair [...] They will invade our schools, our churches, our Sundays [...] And if we let them stay here, they will reproduce. We wonder if the reactions of the people would be different if, for example, these children were of a lighter color, if they were of 'better' nationalities and more 'pure' genetics. Would they treat them more as people? More like children? (Luiselli, 2016, p. 21)."

What does it mean to be a child? What does childhood look like and feel like? That narrative of childhood is often associated to innocence, play, and creativity. This, as we will explore in this program, is a dominant narrative of childhood that is not the experience of many children; childhood is not one of innocence for unaccompanied migrant children. Although children migrating to the United States from México and Central America alone (without parents or adults) has been occurring for many years, in 2013 and 2014, the numbers of children migrating alone reached a historic high. Between October of 2013 and June of 2014, the number of children migrating reached close to 80 thousand. By August of 2015, more than 102 thousand children arrived to the border. The upsurge in numbers was framed as a “crisis” in the media, legal, and political spectrums.

In this program, we will critically interrogate the phenomenon of unaccompanied children migrants (primarily from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador). We will examine the dominant framing of “crisis” as an incomplete narrative that faults children and families but does not interrogate the political and economic roots that push children to take the arduous and dangerous journey north. After a historical and socioeconomic framing of this phenomenon, in this program students will question the implications of this experience on children’s everyday lives and in particular ask: How do these experiences shift the dominant narrative of childhood and how does this relate to global capitalism? Lastly, students will explore the intersection between migration and identity and interrogate the notion of transnational identities. What does it mean to be transnational? In society? In schools?

This program will use cultural studies, critical race theory, and narrative inquiry to engage students with the theory and the stories of migration.

Areas of focus: Education, Children Studies, Latinx Studies, Cultural Studies, Migration Studies


Credits per quarter

Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

$25 for day trip to Seattle

Class Standing: Sophomore–Senior
Class Size: 25

Scheduled for: Day

Final schedule and room assignments:

First meeting:

Tuesday, April 2, 2019 - 9:00 am
SEM 2 B1105 - Lecture

Located in: Olympia

2019-03-22$25 added as a required fee for the day trip to Seattle
2018-09-04Pathway updated