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headshot of Oscar Gil-Garcia

Oscar Gil-Garcia

Assistant Professor

CCPA Human Development


Óscar Gil-García conducts ethnographic research that lies at the intersection of forced migration, humanitarianism and development. He has over ten years of expertise and experience in conducting research with disadvantaged indigenous Mayan migrants from Guatemala. His work examines barriers to their incorporation in La Gloria, a former refugee settlement located in Mexico’s southernmost border state of Chiapas and the U.S.

Gil-García is currently engaged in a new research project that identifies the legal barriers to naturalization and citizenship for indigenous Mayan Guatemalan deportees and returnees from the U.S. in Mexico. A collaboration with La Gloria community leaders, and attorney Julia Guadalupe Torres Ventura, resulted in a successful petition to the Mexican government to initiate the naturalization process for members of three refugee settlement communities - La Gloria, San Francisco, and Nueva Libertad (El Colorado) - who for more than 30 years remained stateless.

In 2016, he initiated an ethnographic-photo-documentary project in each community, in collaboration with his brother and professional photographer Manuel Gil, which involved single portraits of 26 subjects, and another with their families. These photographs, along with ethnographic descriptions, will illustrate their strength, strategies for survival, and barriers to social, political, and economic incorporation they and their families faced as a consequence of their lack of legal status in Mexico. Findings from this ongoing study will be used to shape policies that enable the legalization of stateless migrants who fled Guatemala from military conflict since the early 1980s and now reside in Mexico.


  • PhD,MA, University of California
  • BA, Vassar College

Research Interests

  • Forced migration
  • Circular migration
  • Immigrant youth and families
  • Citizenship and human rights
  • Health in migrant communities
  • Gender and development
  • Culture and belonging
  • Indigenous rights


  • Best article prize by the Latino/a and Ethnic, and Racial Minorities Sections of the American Sociological Association and Latino/a Studies Section of the Latin American Studies Association.