Date of Graduation

Winter 12-14-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS)


College of Arts and Sciences


International Studies

First Advisor

Lucia Cantero

Second Advisor

John Zarobell


The ethnographic research in this thesis focuses on one group of Afro-Mexicans who migrated to Pasadena, California, from Mexico’s Costa Chica, on the Pacific Coast of Oaxaca and Guerrero, the area where a social movement for Afro-Mexican recognition and collective rights was founded in 1997. This study, using a framework of racial theory, examines the process of racial formation in a transnational setting, which has made this group different in many ways from the Black residents who remain in the Costa Chica. The study also considers how mestizaje, the Mexican national racial ideology that endorses a mixed-race society while ignoring Afro-Mexicans, has affected the racial formation that takes place in the Costa Chica and in the migrant community of Blacks now living in Pasadena. It also looks at social movement theory to assess how Afro-Mexicans have made gains in Mexico through a process of international networks, information sharing and broad alliances. The migrants in Pasadena, as part of a globalized transformation of race, have benefited from the social movement in Mexico while becoming sensitized and educated about race in different ways in their new location. The residents of this community were interviewed and through their voices, I was able to analyze and discover their changing attitudes toward race, identity, and social movement, adding new knowledge about how racial concepts are shifting as national boundaries are crossed.