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Where Mourning Takes Them: Migrants, Borders, and an Alternative Reality

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Abstract This article addresses mourning for a Mexican migrant who died in the Arizona desert in March or April 2005. Mourning, family members and acquaintances indicate, is an indefinite process revealed through figurative representations: metaphor and metonym. Mourning as metaphor associates an actual death with instances of loss that occur in other semantic domains—the household, motherhood, and gender constructions. As a metonym, mourning stands for these instances, which, collectively, account for a substratum of social life that is not amenable to logical criticism but persists in the formation of perception and judgment. This dialectic highlights epistemological and ontological borders that provide insight into people's dispositions within the conditions of poverty and wage labor. The borders also provide a vantage point for novel identification, ethical orientation, and behavior that come to shape an alternative reality. [mourning, migration, identity, poetics, Mexico]

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