Samuel Fernando Rivera Andrade

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

El Colegio de Michoacan

Grant number

Gr. 10241

Approve Date

October 7, 2021

Project Title

Rivera Andrade, Samuel (El Colegio de Michoacan) "Dragging a Limb, but Making a Path: Techniques of the Body Among Migrants Disabled while Crossing Mexico. "

SAMUEL RIVERA ANDRADE, then a graduate student at El Colegio de Michoacan, Michoacan, Mexico, was awarded funding in October 2021 to aid research on “Dragging a Limb, but Making a Path: Techniques of the Body Among Migrants Disabled while Crossing Mexico,” supervised by Dr. Laura Lee Roush. This project focuses on Central American migrants — mainly amputees — after traumatic injuries acquired on the train called “The Beast”. The Foundation’s support allowed for a multi-sited ethnography in Mexico and Honduras, about amputees’ strategies navigating hostile terrain and institutional barriers. Accompanying them in rehabilitation programs while they also sought refugee status, the grantee observed an economy of care among veteran amputees and the more recently injured. Key problematics were phantom limb syndrome and the concealment of physical and psychological pain. The latter endangers physical recovery, but both complicate possibilities for resuming travel or acquiring paperwork. The pandemic required technical solutions like Zoom calls, but opened unexpected doors to collaboration. Migrants with phones participated in chats, but also began contributing their own pictures and video. Audiovisual methods, and the chance to travel theirself, allowed the grantee to sustain conversation with amputees in constant motion: those who were not in rehab programs because they were unaware of them, or rejected their dynamics. This included amputees who manage their own recoveries, using self-medication and makeshift orthopedic devices, in order to return home or continue on their routes.