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Ivan Sandoval-Cervantes is the 2020 winner of the GAD Prize for Exemplary Cross-Field Scholarship for his article “Uncertain Futures: The Unfinished Houses of Undocumented Migrants in Oaxaca, Mexico” (2017), in American Anthropologist, Vol. 119, Issue. 2 (2017), pp. 209–222.
Sandoval-Cervantes analyzes the relationship between undocumented migration, materiality, and family that cross national borders, focusing on houses that are built by transnational migrants in their hometown of Zegache, in Oaxaca, Mexico. Robustly grounded in cross-national ethnographic research that spans from Oregon to Oaxaca, the article crosses cultural anthropology, archaeology, and architecture and speaks to contemporary studies of transnational migration, kinship, materiality and affect. Elegantly written, with theoretical discussion closely informed by the ethnography, the work examines house construction and abandonment to show the affective dimensions of undocumented migration in the current (and ongoing) political climate. Sandoval-Cervantes highlights houses as active and fundamental agents in the negotiation of change, reinterpreting artifacts and meanings to unveil their cultural significance for members of this community.