Citizenship, Socialization, and Schooling in the Lives of Mixed-Status Mexican Families
Ariana Mangual Figueroa

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



The State University of New Jersey

Primary Discipline

Social Studies
This multi-sited ethnographic study will examine how U.S-born and undocumented children in mixed-status Latino families understand the significance of their citizenship status in home and school settings. The goal of the study is to illuminate how and when citizenship status is discussed, contested, and redefined, and to explore how this evolving understanding shapes children’s participation within families and schools. Mixed-status families include members who are residing in the U.S. without legal resident status, members applying for U.S. citizenship, and U.S.-born citizens. This study will focus on mixed-status families in order to shed light on a phenomenon that has remained largely invisible to educational researchers: how undocumented and U.S.-born children develop and negotiate understandings about citizenship status during everyday conversations.The sample includes 6 mixed-status families residing in New York City in which the parents were born in Mexico, El Salvador, or the Dominican Republic. The focal children–girls ages 10-11–were born either in the U.S. or in their parents’ country of origin. The sample also includes the teacher of the 5th grade dual-language class that all 6 girls attended, along with additional staff at the focal school. I employ three main modes of data collection: ethnographic participant observation, ongoing member checks, and interviews at the home and school sites. I will utilize a grounded theory approach to data analysis; coding and data collection will be simultaneous and iterative.This research hopes to make a significant impact in the field of education in three critical areas: first, it seeks to render visible the social and academic experiences of a growing population of children unfamiliar to many educators. Second, the study will contribute theoretical insights about the role of citizenship in the everyday lives of immigrant families and children. Finally, I will bring the findings of this research to bear on ongoing conversations about children’s participation in society and in discussions about how to conduct ethical research in vulnerable communities.
About Ariana Mangual Figueroa
Ariana Mangual Figueroa is an Assistant Professor of Language Education in the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. She draws from the fields of language socialization and linguistic anthropology to examine language use and learning in multilingual Latino communities living in the United States. Her research documents the everyday experiences of children and families as they participate in learning activities across multiple settings including homes, schools, and communities. Mangual Figueroa’s most recent ethnographic study of mixed-status families tracks how parents and children talk about citizenship in their everyday lives, exploring how learning and language use are shaped by immigration and educational policies. Her work has been published in Anthropology & Education Quarterly, the Journal of Language, Identity, & Education, and Language Policy.

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