Danielle Cosmes

Me Espera un Pueblo: Return Migration to Ancestral Homelands in Oaxaca, Mexico

Between the years 2009-2014, one million Mexican migrants residing in the US returned to Mexico₁. The state of Oaxaca, a primary return destination, holds the highest and most diverse Indigenous population in Mexico, with especially strong forms of community organization locally and in diaspora. Previous studies on return migration have focused on men, economic consequences of return migration and forces of deportation. I propose a short documentary film and Ethnic Studies honors thesis composed of interviews with migrants who have returned to Oaxaca after living in the US for several years. My project centers around Indigenous women’s narratives and Oaxacan Indigenous migrants’ affective experiences of return to their homelands. My methodology, based on Cine Comunitario (communal-filmmaking), intentionally facilitates relationship building and long-form story-making, politically structuring individuals within community knowledges and histories, rather than in state-centered approaches. During Summer 2021, I filmed 10 semi-structured, in-depth interviews with Indigenous Oaxacan return migrants–the majority of which are women-identifying. During winter break, I will conduct the last set of interviews for my project, including ones with my family and myself. We are a family of Oaxacan return migrant women and femmes. Through this project, I hope to honor those of us who the literature has flattened.