Kaqchikel Maya Migration Patterns: New Economic "threads" Weaving Indigenous Identity
While past research has indicated that migration tends to lead to the death of ethnic marker use such as language, my research defies this traditional understanding of how migration impacts identity performance by showing that migration experiences often lead to support for the home language. The traditional understanding of migration's impacts on the use of ethnic markers also means an inadequate understanding of how migration impacts returned migrantsâ€™ relationship to indigenous social movements that also support the use of ethnic markers. This research is located in the Kaqchikel-speaking region of highland Guatemala, a place with high rates of returned migrants and an indigenous social movement known as the pan-Maya Movement struggling to reach grassroots populations to which most returned migrants belong. This work shows the complex relationships and connections between migration and indigenous social movements through migrations' impact on the use key markers in the Kaqchikel region, including language and clothing. My research first revealed high rates of internal migration and defines common migration paths for the Kaqchikel Maya, which are gendered. I show that certain experiences in migration do not lead to language death for Kaqchikel but instead create support for it through a polylinguistic stance. This work also found that men's traje use will soon enter a "sleeping" state in which it is not actively used but is documented and preserved. However, returned migrants are actively supporting women's traje use. I thus show that experiences in migration encourage returned migrants to continue the use of ethnic markers, a stance supported by the pan-Maya Movement. The Movement has had difficulty connecting to grassroots populations that include most of the migrants in this study. This research thus shows how migration aligns migrants' ideologies with the pan-Maya Movement. I conducted research in the three Kaqchikel-speaking townships of Tecpán Guatemala, San Juan Comalapa, and Santa Catarina Palopó. Each township has significantly different historical interactions with the state, connections to urban centers, rates of migration, and policies regarding language and clothing use that impact current migration paths and ethnic marker usage in each township in important ways.