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The Imperative Resilience of Latina Migrant Mothers at New Haven Museum

Jessica Cerdena Photo courtesy of Catherine King

New Haven, Conn. (February 9, 2024) –This is the story of New Haven, shaped by migrants from Italy, Ukraine, Poland, Ireland, Russia, and Black workers from the southern United States. So many women migrants have a shared experience of encountering racism, economic oppression, and sexism and yet have summoned cognitive and social strategies to build futures for their families. New Haven family physician and anthropologist Jessica P. Cerdeña will discuss the ways Latin American migrant mothers have persevered amid trauma, legal violence, political hostility and more during, “Pressing Onward: The Imperative Resilience of Latina Migrant Mothers,” at the New Haven Museum on Thursday, March 14, 2024. at 6 p.m. (Snow date, March 21). Register here. This free NH250 event will also stream on FB Live.


Cerdeña notes that while the decision to migrate from Latin America is fraught with danger, destabilization and isolation, for many, the advantages of life in the U.S. outweigh the struggle. Based on her book of the same title, Cerdeña’s lecture will focus on the stories of mothers who migrated from Latin America to New Haven and overcame trauma and ongoing adversity to build futures for their children. These migrant mothers enact what Cerdeña calls “ imperative resilience,” engaging cognitive and social strategies to resist racial, economic, and gender-based oppression to seguir adelante, or press onward. It is a story that will likely resonate with many women who themselves—or whose ancestors—immigrated to the U.S.


“Pressing Onward” grew out of Cerdeña’s longstanding work with migrant communities in New Haven, first as a clinical student working at a local free clinic and then as an anthropologist. The women disclosed their challenges migrating and living here—including during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic—and the powerful strategies they used to get by in the day-to-day. Many women repeated that their stories needed to be told, which pushed her to complete her book.

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