Norma Fuentes-Mayorga

Research Topics

My current book titled From Homemakers to Breadwinners to Community Leaders: Migrating Women, Class, and Color compares the immigrant and work integration experience of mothers from Afro-Caribbean and Indigenous ethno-racial minorities from the Dominican Republic and Mexico. It documents the factors that push higher educated women to migrate after joining the middle class.  Many women increasingly lead their migration to New York, unaccompanied by men.  A key finding is that solo migrant women, including single mothers,  may be better matched for the fluctuating and informal conditions of service sector jobs, able to accept live-in jobs or work shifts and functions usually frowned upon by spouses or male partners.  These findings are timely as public officials and scholars once again debate the role of marriage and that of income redistribution as forms of poverty alleviation among immigrants.  Another theme explored in this book -- building on my earlier work -- is how service jobs structure the racial and ethnic stratification of Latino/a immigrants and social mobility of workers. The findings bring new insights on the contributions that Latino immigrants, especially Black and Brown members of the middle class, make to the cultural revival and business development of gentrifying neighborhoods in new and old destinations. 

Currently, I am completing follow-up field work, which includes longitudinal ethnographies of families and neighborhoods in  the cities of Amsterdam/NL and New York/US. The work will inform the writing of a second book project comparing the immigration and educational mobility of Moroccan and Dominican mothers and their daughters in Amsterdam and New York City and how a new digital economy and the internet complicate their life chances across national contexts. 

A second, on-going, longitudinal research project, funded by the Russell Sage Foundation and the Social Sciences Research Council, and by a few PSC CUNY Faculty Grants, documents the new forms of inequalities that Latino families and their school youth experience in households with mixed immigrant status during the Covid-19 pandemic.  I am working with Dr. Yana Kucheva, my co-PI and collaborator, on two papers, drawing on mixed research methods, including  longitudinal surveys, in-depth interviews, and ethnographies.  One of these papers, which I am leading, documents the resources of the undocumented, understanding the factors that have allowed these families to survive or lower the risk of dying during the pandemic.  We are collaborating with the Mexican Coalition of New York, a local non-profit in the Bronx servicing the large immigrant community.