Living with uncertainty : identity transformation in Central American and Mexican immigrant women in the United States




Guevara, Crystal Myrna

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This study utilized a qualitative approach to conceptualize identity transformation in the immigration experience of Central American and Mexican undocumented women. Currently, limited research exists on identity formation for this first-generation immigrant sub-population. Individual interviews informed by a psychoanalytic lens were conducted with Spanish-speaking women and analyzed through a Interpretive Phenomenological Approach. Literature on identity, gender, and immigration served as a basis for understanding socioecological factors that impact the experience of transitioning from one country to another. Acculturation, social identity models, and intersectionality served as frameworks to understand the evolving and subjective social realities of undocumented immigrants, which are pivotal when working in Latino mental health psychology. Several themes emerged from the analysis of participant’s interviews describing key socio-ecological factors that shaped women’s identity formation pre-migration as well as political, economic, and social factors that influenced women’s decisions to migrate. Additionally, this study also describes the common challenges involved in the acculturation process and the strategies that women used to navigate the such challenges in order to reconstruct new lives in the United States.


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