Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Michael Blim

Subject Categories

Ethnic Studies | Labor Economics | Social and Cultural Anthropology


Mexican anthropology, Mexican day laborers, Mexican indigenous migrants, Mexican punk, Mixtecos in New York City, Neoliberalism in Mexico


This dissertation examines the contemporary proletarianization via migration of the indigenous and mestizo people from the Montaña region, in the Mexican southern state of Guerrero, to New York City. The dissertation demonstrates how the region was transformed since the 1980s into a migrant labor supplier and how its inhabitants became proletarians, and a major pool of labor supplying the North American transnational migrant labor market.

Far from being homogenous, the people of the Montaña region are ethnically and class diverse. Based on the oral narratives of an indigenous Mixteco, and a mestizo teenager dweller of the city of Tlapa, the dissertation shows the extent to which labor migration cannot be separated from a broader history of racialized dispossession and labor exploitation, particularly in the case of Mixtecos. I argue that the proletarianization via migration of both indigenous Mixteco and mestizo people in the region has been produced through different rounds of dispossession that in the oral histories are identified as "the abandonment" and "the chemo days" respectively.

By studying the contemporary history of the Montaña region labor migration I examine how geographical and labor connections are being produced between New York City and the Montaña. I argue that the particular process of massive migration from densely populated Mexican indigenous regions to the U.S. in the aftermath of Mexico's 1990s economic crisis, help us to interrogate `integration' as a category that was central for post-revolutionary Mexican anthropology to explain the nation formation in the twentieth century.

The role that previous former ethnic and class differences of the Montaña people, as well as racism of non-indigenous Mexicans toward indigenous people influence the arrival, settlement, and labor incorporation of these two segments into an already economic and culturally stratified Mexican community in New York City. Finally, I examine punk as a cultural expression of working-class formation among Guerrerense migrant proletarians living in New York City to show the extent to which punk serves migrants as a language to collectively elaborate social claims about social inequality and politics both in the Montaña and in the United States.