Researching transfronterizo literacies in Texas border colonias

Patrick H. Smith, Luz A. Murillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examines literacies practiced in bilingual households located in emerging communities along the Texas-Mexico border known as border colonias. Drawing on theoretical notions of space as geographic and temporal, the simultaneity of global and local forces at work in colonias, and expressions of agency that are 'in between' accommodation and resistance, we focus on the forms and practices of literacy that bilingual families are engaging in to satisfy financial and religious needs in Spanish and English. Through interviews and home visits with parents in two colonias, this qualitative study found diverse and interesting uses of written Spanish that can support children's biliteracy development even as the use of written Spanish is discouraged in schools and parents are ambivalent about the use of Spanish literacy for academic purposes. We identify four themes - what children learn through Spanish; child language socialization; biliteracy and human capital; and demographic and economic change - and identify possibilities for learning and research among this understudied population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)635-651
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • biliteracy
  • border colonias
  • family literacy
  • financial literacy
  • religious literacy
  • US-Mexico border

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education


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