As anti-immigrant nationalist discourses escalate globally, Border Thinking offers critical insights into how young people in the Latinx diaspora experience belonging, make sense of racism, and long for change. Every year thousands of youth leave Latin America for the United States and Europe, and often the young migrants are portrayed as invaders and, if able to stay, told to integrate into their new society. Border Thinking asks not how to help the diaspora youth assimilate but what the United States and Europe can learn about citizenship from these diasporic youth.
Working in the United States, Spain, and El Salvador, Andrea Dyrness and Enrique Sepúlveda III use participatory action research to collaborate with these young people to analyze how they make sense of their experiences in the borderlands. Dyrness and Sepúlveda engage them in reflecting on their feelings of belonging in multiple places--including some places that treat them as outsiders and criminals. Because of their transnational existence and connections to both home and host countries, diaspora youth have a critical perspective on national citizenship and yearn for new forms of belonging not restricted to national borders. The authors demonstrate how acompañamiento--spaces for solidarity and community-building among migrants--allow youth to critically reflect on their experiences and create support among one another.
Even as national borders grow more restricted and the subject of immigration becomes ever more politically fraught, young people's identities are increasingly diasporic. As the so-called migrant crisis continues, change in how citizenship and belonging are constructed is necessary, and urgent, to create inclusive and sustainable futures. In Border Thinking, Dyrness and Sepúlveda decouple citizenship from the nation-state, calling for new understandings of civic engagement and belonging.