AAA/CASCA Executive Program Committee
Executive Session - Oral Presentation Session
In November 2018 a photograph of a Honduran mother frantically running with her children away from tear gas on the US-Mexico border became an iconic image of the caravan of Central American migrants traveling across Mexico in hopes of seeking asylum in the United States. While the image powerfully captures the harrowing realities of migration and motherhood in the face of state violence against migrants, less visible are the profound acts of gendered care and solidarity that have emerged along Central American migrant routes over the past decade. Through a lens of motherhood, this paper links together the visible and less visible gendered politics of violence and care within three interrelated movements: a caravan of Central American mothers who make an annual trek in search of their missing children and to raise awareness of the plight of Central Americans in Mexico, a network of migrant aid shelters that largely depend upon the everyday labors of local women, and the actual movement of Central American mothers as they negotiate their safety and that of their children. Within these contexts of women who are both “on the move” and “in place,” I consider a plurality of care and activist practices that demonstrate how gender and motherhood become central to the politics of migration, security and deservingness. I also consider the ways motherhood becomes embedded within narratives of sexual violence, parental responsibility and victimhood that circulate within both militaristic and humanitarian responses to unauthorized migration.