Date of Award

Fall 2022

Document Type


Terms of Use

© 2022 Elizabeth Garcia. All rights reserved. This work is freely available courtesy of the author. It may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Sociology & Anthropology Department

First Advisor

Salvador Rangel


Redefining Safety: Latinx Migrant Perspectives on School Safety in Rural Pennsylvania. High Schools aims to answer the research question: What does a safe educational space look like for rurally based high school students from immigrant families? This thesis draws on my lived experiences growing up in a mixed-status immigrant family in rural, PA. Drawing from anthropological and interdisciplinary research that explores how marginalized communities experience and navigate systemic violence, this thesis explores themes in the Latinx immigrant community such as a contradictory sense of hyper surveillance and invisibility. Inspired by abolitionist and geographer Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s research, I focus on “placemaking,” with respect to high schools. This thesis is attentive to how (un)safe schools are made. I analyze how harmful systemic barriers are created and enforced, thereby contributing to schools in which Latinx migrants navigate exclusive or punitive conditions. I also analyze the placemaking that occurs by Latinx migrant communities and their allies. This includes the resistance of the political, economic, and social barriers. This thesis combines an analysis of language and policies in Adams County public high schools’ student handbooks with semi-structured interviews with migrants who recently graduated from these high schools, parents of students who attend(ed) these high schools, and educators who currently teach at these high schools. The data collected informs migrant students' sense of safety in schools. This thesis illustrates that Latinx migrants, alongside allies, are empowered to resist and transform the barriers they face. This can look like trauma-informed, culturally responsive material and movements that are led by and center Latinx migrants and their needs. This research contributes to a larger body of knowledge around what makes schools safe. It is transformative because it includes perspectives that redefine what physically and emotionally safe learning spaces look like.