Confites en el infierno: life stories of two Costa Rican families living in the United States and in Costa Rica

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Laura C. Ibarra (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Kathleen Casey

Abstract: This dissertation examines the life stories of two Costa Rican families, including those members who migrated to the United States and those who remained in Costa Rica. My research challenges and enriches existing assumptions about immigrants, particularly those who are undocumented: that they come to the United States because of poverty, war, or instability in their own countries; it also call attention to those who are left behind. This study utilizes narrative research methodology (Casey, 1993, 1995/1996) by asking the open-ended question: "Tell me the story of your life." Sixteen participants were interviewed in two cities in Costa Rico and three states in the U.S. By listening to immigrants' stories told by the interviewees, the public can be educated by the people and not by second or third parties. These narratives shift our attention from the traditional research perspectives on immigration, from the lens of economic and political issues, to a humanist-feminist approach. Powerful feminist discourses appear as the women in their stories affirm their autonomy and express pride in the way that they provide for their families. Topics of hard work, resilience, unconditional faith in God and family values appear in their stories. These families contest the culture of patriarchy; they live and prosper in women-headed households. Yet they suffer the sorrows of separation; they cannot risk returning to Costa Rico to see the other members of their families. What compelling reasons lead the citizens of this idyllic country to abandon family, neighbors, friends, secure employment and cultural traditions? Why do they embark on an immigration adventure into a country where they are undocumented, where they suffer segregation and racism, where the language is different and where their culture, identity and ideas clash with those of the dominant society? This research story argues that undocumented Costa Rican women who immigrate to the US leave their country and their husbands to improve their financial status and to provide educational opportunities to their children.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2011
Culture, Migration, Racism, Segregation, Undocumented Costa Rican immigrants, US driving permits
Immigrants $z United States $x Social conditions
Families $z Costa Rica
Costa Ricans $z United States
Assimilation (Sociology)
Illegal aliens

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