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The University of Texas at San Antonio Online Magazine


On the move

The Latino immigrant experience, especially Latinos of African descent, has long been of interest to Margarita Machado-Casas, an assistant professor in the bilingual studies department. And a recent memorandum of agreement between UTSA and Bluefields Indian and Caribbean University (BICU) in Nicaragua has afforded her the opportunity to delve deeper into her field.

child in a remote village

An Afro-Latino child in a remote village in the Bluefields region of Nicaragua is one of many children who grow up in multilingual/multicultural environments and whose families and communities Machado-Casas is researching.

Bluefields, Wayne State University in Detroit and UTSA’s College of Education and Human Development are collaborating in Bluefields’ master’s program in English education.

Bluefields is unique because of its diversity; a half dozen indigenous and African languages are used at the school, making it a perfect lab for Machado-Casas’ work. She not only taught a course for the master’s in English education program, but also was able to conduct a research study that addresses the migration, mobility and survival of Afro-Latino immigrants within the new Latino diaspora.

Recent scholarship has identified the rapid growth of migration to the U.S., particularly from rural and indigenous Latin American communities. Machado-Casas’ study aims to explore personal narratives of Latinos who are of African descent and who reside in Bluefields, Nicaragua, and the United States.

Ethnographic research methods, such as oral narratives, were used to collect detailed information about Latino family members and their lives. These research methods provided an understanding of both the Latino family experience and their interpretation of it, particularly in the context of migration.

In addition to migration histories, biliteracy and/or multiliteracy development are examined. Of particular note, the study explores how identity shifts are negotiated after Afro-Latinos migrate to the United States.

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