Migration and Maintenance: Mesoamerican Making of Landscapes in ‘El Norte’

Michelle Arevalos Franco presents at Dumbarton Oaks Garden and Landscape Studies Symposium


May 6, 2022



United States


Michelle Arevalos Franco will present “Migration and Maintenance: Mesoamerican Making of Landscapes in ‘El Norte’” at Dumbarton Oaks’ Landscapes in the Making conference.

Focusing on sites of construction and maintenance connected with the building and landscape trades, this paper positions migration from Mesoamerica, and the lands-people-knowledges entangled in that process, as pivotal contributors to the everyday and sustained making of landscapes in the United States.

Through seasonal and repeated migration, either undocumented or via guest worker programs created for the continued function of industry, migrant laborers develop direct and sustained relationships of physical care with discrete landscapes over time—a unique position among the trades and professions that otherwise “touch” landscapes. The argument is further contextualized through the political economy that spurs northward migration, connecting the movement of people and knowledge for landscape labor as part of the ongoing colonial project of wealth transfer out of Mesoamerica.