Transnational families and return in the age of deportation: The case of indigenous Ecuadorian migrants

Ulla D. Berg, Gioconda Herrera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent social science research has highlighted the chaos imposed by detention and deportation policies on migrant families and communities. This paper expands on these discussions by examining the role of transnational family dynamics as people experience detention, deportation, reintegration and/or remigration. Analysing five exemplary cases of indigenous Ecuadorian families drawn from a larger sample, we highlight the reconfigurations of transnational social relations resulting from these cycles of (im)mobility. We argue that transnational family support structures play a crucial role in the reconfiguration of families affected by deportation by combining material and emotional support and healing with social control. Our findings suggest that the social, emotional, and economic effects of deportation over time are shaped both by family and community contexts of reception and by migrants’ own gender, class, life-course stage, time spent in the United States, and migration experiences. These findings allow us to conclude that deportation is a heterogeneous social and temporal process that does not impact families uniformly but in fact unfolds in diverse ways within family situations where social relationships, gender roles, care arrangements, and social expectations for the most part are already profoundly transnationalised and reconfigured by migration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGlobal Networks
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)


  • Ecuador
  • deportation
  • reintegration
  • remigration
  • transnational families


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