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Changes Of Cultural Roles And Practices In Immigrant Communities

1054 words - 5 pages

Immigration to the United States has brought changes in cultural roles and practices for many immigrant communities. Some of these are reflected in the change of labor practices, family structures, and the efforts of reproducing cultural symbols. Jacqueline Hagan discusses in her book Deciding to be Legal the effects of resettlement of Mayan communities, and gives us insight how the Mayan community is changed by these forces.The men of the Totonicapan Maya community are the family members who settled in Houston first to find jobs, and the rest of the family followed later in stages. Many male immigrants have faced a tremendous change in their labor practices. One of the biggest changes for ...view middle of the document...

Unlike the Maya in Houston, the Kanjobal Maya in Florida immigrated to a more rural setting were labor demand is different. They could bring their farming skills to the sugarcane fields and their tailoring and crafting skills to established textile industries (Hagan 26). As we can see, labor demand and location of immigrant settlement play a key role in changing labor practices.A major change of the woman's cultural role in the Mayan household is reflected by woman entering the workforce in Houston. In their original community the female role of production was to embroider the trim of the huipiles, the traditional dress of the Mayan women. The work was performed at home in the family environment. Besides the embroidery of the traditional dress she also has the important role of keeping the traditions of the Mayan culture alive. Supported and guided by the elderly, the Mayan woman educates her children of cultural customs and norms. Settling in Houston, many women had to join the workforce to improve their economic status. Not only are women forced to work outside of their home, their role as the guardian of the Mayan customs is compromised. Being employed as domestic workers, many women are forced to move out of the community and live with the employers, returning only on the weekends to their community. In order to help providing for a living, many women had to dispose of their children and send them back to their home country, where the elderly take over the role of educating the children to ensure the maintenance of the culture. This creates a different family structure and we can clearly see the changes of cultural norms for the woman in Houston. No longer do all women raise their children themselves, and take care of the family, and the Mayan men are no longer the main provider for the family.The change of the woman's role and labor practices depend on the typology how families immigrate. According to Hagan's research, because the Kanjobal Mayan immigrated in whole...

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