The politics of resilience and resistance: Health care access and undocumented Mexican motherhood in the United States

  • Elizabeth Farfán-SantosEmail author
Original Article


This article explores the effect of an undocumented status in shaping narratives of resilience, emotional expression and maternal sentiment among undocumented Mexican mothers in the United States. Given the dominant narrative of maternal responsibility that I encountered while conducting ethnographic research among undocumented women in Houston, Texas, this work focuses on the cultural construction and narrative use of maternal sentiment as it is expressed in relation to the health practices and overall forms of survival and resilience of undocumented Mexican mothers and their children.


Latina health Immigrant health care access Motherhood Undocumented communities Resilience and resistance 

La política de la resistencia: El acceso a los servicios de salud y la maternidad de las mexicanas indocumentadas en los Estados Unidos


Este artículo explora el efecto del estatus indocumentado en la formación de las narrativas de resiliencia, expresión emocional y sentimiento maternal entre las madres mexicanas indocumentadas en los Estados Unidos. Dada la narrativa dominante de responsabilidad materna que encontré durante mis investigaciones etnográficas con mujeres indocumentadas en Houston, Texas, este trabajo se enfoca en la construcción cultural y el uso narrativo del sentimiento maternal según expresado con relación a las prácticas de salud y las formas generales de sobrevivencia y resistencia de las madres mexicanas indocumentadas y sus hijos.

Palabras clave

Salud de las latinas acceso de los inmigrantes a la salud maternidad comunidades indocumentadas resistencia 



This research was initiated thanks to support from the Center for Mexican–American Studies (CMAS) at the University of Houston, first through a visiting scholar position in 2015 and then through a Faculty Seed Grant in 2016. Several faculty at the University of Houston offered critical feedback to earlier versions of this paper; I would like to thank Christina Sisk, Amanda Ellis, and Tatcho Mindiola for engaging earlier versions of this work and offering important feedback. Additionally, I am thankful for the editorial labor and insights of the two anonymous reviewers that reviewed this article for the journal.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of HoustonHoustonUSA

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