Multimodal archives of transborder belonging: Murals, social media, and racialized geographies in Los Angeles

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Indigenous migrants from Latin America make up an increasing portion of the Latinx population in the United States, including in urban settings. Despite the significant ways that anti-Indigenous racism impacts them, their narratives, experiences, and identities are often erased or collapsed into those of their non-Indigenous compatriots in mainstream accounts of migration and of Latinx identity and belonging in the United States. This article analyzes murals by Indigenous artists from the Mexican state of Oaxaca that were painted in Los Angeles neighborhoods where members of the diaspora live as one way that these communities are making themselves visible. By framing murals and their circulation on social media as multimodal archives, I argue that young people engage in the ethnographic-archival work of telling the stories and revealing the racialized geographies made imperceptible through city planning, mainstream media, and official archives. Ethnographic attention to the material, visual, and online archival practices of diasporic young people reveals dynamics of transnational community formation, flows of labor, place-making, and identity-making that are obscured when we privilege macro-level analyses of migration, infrastructure, and markets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)703-720
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Anthropologist
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • archives
  • indigeneity
  • migration
  • multimodality
  • murals
  • race
  • social media
  • street art
  • transborder communities
  • urban space
  • youth culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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