Biliteracy and human capital in texas border colonias

Patrick H. Smith, Luz A. Murillo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this chapter we explore the literacies of people living in Texas border colonias, economically marginalized communities along the U.S.-Mexico border that are among the fastest growing and most bilingual (Spanish/English) communities in the U.S. Deficit perspectives characterize public and educational discourses about the literacy abilities of colonia residents, despite a lack of empirical research on the topic. We present an ethnographic counter-portrait that takes into account the intersecting roles of geographic, socio-economic, demographic, ethnic, linguistic, and cultural factors in the literacies of border colonia residents. We draw on human capital theory to show how residents utilize their biliteracy to develop six forms of human capital and to mediate exchanges between them. The chapter concludes with implications for language and literacy research and educational practice in globalized and transnational settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Research on Cross-Cultural Approaches to Language and Literacy Development
PublisherIGI Global
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9781466686694
ISBN (Print)1466686685, 9781466686687
StatePublished - Aug 4 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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