Life Writing, Transnationalism, and the Possibilities of Agency
This chapter examines two extended life narratives by undocumented subjects: Ramón “Tianguis” Pérez’s memoir Diary of an Undocumented Immigrant and the oral history of an undocumented Nicaraguan immigrant, “Yamileth,” recorded by Diana Walta Hart in Undocumented in L.A. Neither Yamileth nor Pérez sees themselves as a permanent immigrant (illegal or otherwise) in their life stories. Thus, while both texts resist certain strands of dominant discourse about illegal immigrants, they also express a transnational sensibility that exhibits a strong sense of agency about the subjects’ plotting of their own life stories. This, even while perhaps simultaneously confirming negative rhetoric about recent immigrants’ unwillingness to assimilate to “American” culture or be fully incorporated into U.S. society.
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