Chapter 3 Discussion Questions and Suggested Activities

Chapter 3 Discussion Questions and Suggested Activities

Elvia: Marriage before Migration

Discussion Questions

1. Prior to the era of international migration, how did Calakmuleños meet a potential marriage partner? What did their weddings look like, and how did these rituals reflect their cultural values?

2. What does the relationship between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law look like in places that practice patrilocal residence? Why is the relationship such an important one for the women involved?

3. Why was divorce so frowned upon and so difficult to achieve in pre-migratory Calakmul? What factors kept married people together? What were the consequences of splitting up?

Personal reflection

What do marriages and weddings look like in your social circle? What norms and practices encourage you to participate in these kinds of marriages? Are there courtship or marital arrangements people in your social world would find unacceptable? What would be the consequences to you of creating new courtship or marital practices?


Suggested Activities

1. How might Elvia describe the perfect marriage partner? How would you describe one? This activity has two parts. First, write up a “want ad” that describes the kind of marriage partner Elvia might seek for one of her children. Then, drawing inspiration from this exercise on the perfect partner, develop an ad for yourself or for someone you know personally. Compare and contrast the two profiles.

2.  Marriage can broaden people’s life choices in some ways and narrow their choices in other ways. How does an agrarian-based, patrilocal marriage in Calakmul narrow peoples’ choices? What aspects of marriage can make it suffocating to a husband or wife? Then, read this short interview with Eli Finkel, author of The All or Nothing Marriage. What sorts of expectations does Finkel believe we bring to a marriage in the United States? How do those expectations create their own suffocation? Finally, contrast the two models of suffocation. Where are the pressure points in a Calakmuleño marriage in comparison to the pressure points in the marriages Finkel describes?

3. What are the most dangerous jobs in the United States? How likely is it that immigrants are working in these jobs? Explore the data provided by the federal government via the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Notice the link to the “interactive charts.” Craft a profile of the most common kind of “fatal workplace injury,” which is to say a profile of the most common injuries that result in death. The interactive charts do not distinguish between documented and undocumented workers. But they do list injuries for Latinos/Hispanics (and not other ethnic or racial groups). How do you make sense of the inclusion of some information and not other?

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