Clare Mar-Molinero – Returning ‘home’: Language and identity issues for returning Mexican migrants


Event Date: 5 July 2013

Room B36
Birkbeck Main Building
Birkbeck, University of London
Malet Street
London WC1E 7HX

The International Association for the Study of Spanish in Society presents:

Professor Clare Mar-Molinero (Southampton) – Returning ‘home’: Language and identity issues for returning Mexican migrants

This paper will explore not just the role of language in the lives of migrants, but, specifically, in the lives of returnee migrants. Much has been written about the relationship of language to the migrant experience, but rather less about how this does, or does not, impact on the returnee. Moreover, a considerable volume of research is available on the situation of the returnee migrant, from an economic, social and even psychological point of view, but very little about their linguistic experiences or any linguistic implications for the ‘home’country reintegrating their compatriots. The economic downturn globally over the past few years has meant that countries formerly viewed as very attractive venues for migrants (e.g., the US, the UK, Spain….)have ceased to be so, with the expected consequence of migrants returning to their original homes. As this is happening on a greater scale than in the past, it is particularly important to understand the return phenomenon, including any linguistic implications. The case study that will be used to illustrate this investigation will be that of Mexican migrants returning from the US. I will set this in the wider theoretical context and the recent trends between the US and Mexico,but I will concentrate on data obtained between 2009-2011 in the particular Mexican city of San Luis Potosí, to explore examples of how the return experience affects a range of people of different ages, social class andgender. To do this we carried out ethnographic observations, open-ended interviews with returnee migrants, their employers, and policy makers, in some cases building up linguistic biographies of some of our participants.
In this paper I will present some of the general patterns that emerged, but will highlight the experiences of oneparticular returnee family.

Clare Mar-Molinero holds a BA from Birmingham University, a MA(Ed) in Language & Linguistics and a PhD in Politics of Language from the University of Southampton. After teaching English as a Foreign Language at Barcelona University, she came to Southampton first as a teaching assistant in EFL and Spanish, and then later as a Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Reader in Spanish in Modern Languages. she is currently Professor in Spanish sociolinguistics and has been Head of Modern Languages for two terms (2001-2003 and 2005-2011) and was a founding Director of the Southampton Centre for Transnational Studies.

Prof. Mar-Molinero has recently created a new Centre for Mexico-Southampton Collaboration at the University (MexSu), of which she is currently Director, securing significant financial support in this from Santander Universities network.

Introduction by Dr Darren Paffrey (Southampton).



This talk was part of the “LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY IN THE SPANISH-SPEAKING WORLD” conference, held at Birkbeck University of London 3 – 5 July 2013

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