Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Anthropology

Content Description

1 online resource (iii, 249 pages) : illustrations (chiefly color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Walter E Little

Committee Members

Louise M Burkhart, Jennifer L Burrell, John M Watanabe


Ethnicity, Guatemala, Identity, Maya, Migration, Performance, Jacalteca Indians, Guatemalans, Festivals, Processions

Subject Categories

Ethnic Studies | Social and Cultural Anthropology


As immigration increasingly becomes a divisive issue in US politics and political measures are implemented to ensure safe borders, immigrants must find ways to avoid deportation. They must also find ways to support each other and maintain a sense of identity as their presence in the USA continues to be challenged and threatened. My research on Jakaltek migrants in Jupiter, Florida concentrates on Jakaltek migrant reconceptualization of home at the same time that they engage in identity politics that challenge a singular understanding of ethnic belonging. How Jakalteks react to their experiences in Jupiter as (mostly undocumented) migrants suggests that there is no single answer to assimilationist positions or to America’s immigration problem. Instead, we find a number of possibilities for learning how to live and survive in a foreign place that rejects the migrants’ presence. I reconsider the term “home” as migrants themselves redefine what it means to them, and challenge current literature on a generalized Latino migrant solidarity. I discuss what belonging entails to Jakaltek migrants and how ethnic boundaries are reinforced to maintain a closed community –which complicate belonging for Jakaltek who are different— that is in the process of change.