Immigrant art as liminal expression: The case of central Americans

Cecilia Menjívar

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

One of the first interviews I ever conducted with immigrants in the United States was with Rosario, a woman in her early twenties I met in San Francisco. She was born into a poor rural family in central El Salvador and started working as a housekeeper in San Salvador, the capital city, right after finishing sixth grade, from the time she was twelve years old. When we met, she seemed soft-spoken and pensive, and at first I was not sure whether we were going to be able to converse. As we talked, she struck me as thoughtful and cautious with her words; she would use similes and metaphors to express apprehensions, sadness, joy, and a plethora of emotions she had experienced since she had embarked on the journey north. Instead of simply recounting the difficulties and tribulations she had experienced in the United States, and how unattainable the American dream seemed to her, she said, "life in the United States is like a rose full of thorns because you can see it, and see that it's beautiful, but never get to touch it to enjoy it."1 With time we got to know each other and she confided that she kept a small notebook in which she wrote her thoughts: "I don't know, like poems, you could say, but not poems, poems, like the ones poets write. I am not famous and what I write is mine." She smiled as she recounted that she often wrote late at night, after a back-breaking day of cleaning living rooms, kitchens, and toilets. When I asked her how she mustered the energy to do so, she said, "[Writing] serves me to console myself.".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationArt in the Lives of Immigrant Communities in the United States
PublisherRutgers University Press
Pages176-196
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9780813547572
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

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