Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies

New Books in January

If one of your resolutions for 2020 is to read more books, we’ve got you covered. Ring in the new year with these captivating new releases!

In Beneath the Surface, Lynn M. Thomas constructs a transnational history of skin lighteners in South Africa and beyond, theorizing skin and skin color as a site for antiracist struggle and lighteners as a technology of visibility that both challenges and entrenches racial and gender hierarchies.

Weaving U.S. history into the larger fabric of world history, the contributors to Crossing Empires de-exceptionalize the American empire, placing it in a global transimperial context as a way to grasp the power relations that shape imperial formations. This collection is edited by Kristin L. Hoganson and Jay Sexton.

Engaging contemporary photography by Sally Mann, Lorna Simpson, Carrie Mae Weems, and others, Shawn Michelle Smith traces how historical moments come to be known photographically and the ways in which the past continues to inhabit, punctuate, and transform the present through the photographic medium in Photographic Returns.

Spanning the centuries between pre-contact indigenous Haiti to the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, the selections in The Haiti Reader introduce readers to Haiti’s dynamic history and culture from the viewpoint of Haitians from all walks of life. This volume is edited by Laurent Dubois, Kaiama L. Glover, Nadève Ménard, Millery Polyné, and Chantalle F. Verna.

The contributors to Futureproof (edited by D. Asher Ghertner, Hudson McFann, and Daniel M. Goldstein) examine the affective and aesthetic dimensions of security infrastructures and technology with studies ranging from Jamaica and Jakarta to Colombia and the US-Mexico border.

Examining abjection in a range of visual and material culture, the contributors to Abjection Incorporated move beyond critiques of abjection as a punitive form of social death to theorizing how it has become a means to acquire political and cultural capital in the twenty-first century. This volume is edited by Maggie Hennefeld and Nicholas Sammond.

Margaret E. Dorsey and Miguel Díaz-Barriga argue that border wall construction along the U.S.–Mexico border manifests transformations in citizenship practices that are aimed not only at keeping migrants out but also enmeshing citizens into a wider politics of exclusion in Fencing in Democracy.

In Politics of Rightful Killing, Sima Shakhsari analyzes the growth of Weblogistan—the online and real-life transnational network of Iranian bloggers in the early 2000s—and the ways in which despite being an effective venue for Iranians to pursue their political agendas, it was the site for surveillance, cooptation, and self-governance.

In Invisibility by Design, Gabriella Lukács traces how young Japanese women’s unpaid labor as bloggers, net idols, “girly” photographers, online traders, and cell phone novelists was central to the development of Japan’s digital economy in the 1990s and 2000s.

Presented in the context of the nonprofit arts collective More Art’s fifteen-year history, and featuring first-person testimony, critical essays, and in-depth documentary materials, More Art in the Public Eye is an essential, experiential guide to the field of socially engaged public art and its increasing relevance. This volume is edited by Micaela Martegani, Jeff Kasper, and Emma Drew, and we are distributing it for More Art.

Shana L. Redmond traces Paul Robeson’s continuing cultural resonances in popular culture and politics in Everything Man, showing how he remains a vital force and presence for all those he inspired.

In The Complete Lives of Camp People, Rudolf Mrázek presents a sweeping study of the material and cultural lives of internees of two twentieth-century concentration camps and the multiple ways in which their experiences speak to and reveal the fundamental logics of modernity.

In Avian Reservoirs, Frédéric Keck traces how the anticipation of bird flu pandemics has changed relations between birds and humans in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan, showing that humans’ reliance on birds is key to mitigating future pandemics.

Collecting texts from all corners of the world that span antiquity to the present, The Ocean Reader (edited by Eric Paul Roorda) charts humans’ relationship to the ocean, treating it as a dynamic site of history, culture, and politics.

The contributors to Blue Legalities attend to the seas as a legally and politically conflicted space to analyze the conflicts that emerge where systems of governance interact with complex geophysical, ecological, economic, biological, and technological processes. This collection is edited by Irus Braverman and Elizabeth R. Johnson.

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Our Editors Pick Their Books of the Decade

As we come to the end of a decade, our editors look back at some of the most influential books we’ve published since 2010.

Ken Wissoker, Editorial Director

In the WakeI’m proud to have worked on a great number of field-changing and prize-winning books this decade, many of which had sway far beyond the academy. The one title that stands out for me is Christina Sharpe’s In the Wake. I’d worked with Christina on her exceptional first book Monstrous Intimacies so knew there was more brilliance to come. I can still picture the room at MLA in Vancouver where I first heard her present In the Wake’s powerful poetic text, compelling at so many layers at once. We were awed by her ability to move from the deeply familial and personal to the scale of world history without losing either the tone or the theory; by the stark realism of her account of Black death; and by the call to live on despite the weather. The book came out in November of 2016, by mid-March of the following year, artist Cauleen Smith had adopted the book’s title for her contribution to the 2017 Whitney Biennial.  I’ve since seen Sharpe’s work deeply engaged by Torkwase Dyson and other artists. Her narrating of the wake, the ship, the hold, and the weather — along with the idea of wakework itself — has been taken up by writers, critics, activists and readers, who felt Sharpe had named something for their lives. This quick recognition —the sense of being recognized, seen, or heard — is unusual and deeply special.  The book is an extraordinary gift to our ongoing political moment, one that will resonate for many years to come.

Courtney Berger, Executive Editor

Vibrant MatterIt’s been 10 years since we published Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (January 2010).  When I first read the manuscript, I knew it would be important. I knew that Bennett’s generous and reflective way of thinking and her engaging writing style would widen its audience beyond political theory (Bennett’s home discipline). But I had no idea how influential the book would be, setting the stage for a decade of conversation and debate about “thing-power” and the agential capacities of the nonhuman. Bennett’s plea to recognize the influence of nonhuman forces and things in the political realm and to decenter the human resonated with me and many others seeking new ways of thinking about our relationship to our environment. Influential books often provoke debate and this one certainly has done that. But, for me, the books that matter in the long run are the ones that invite me to think with them. Vibrant Matter is that kind of book. Bennett’s ideas have generated critique, disagreement, and reflection, all of which has pushed scholarship in new and important directions.  Notably, Mel Chen’s Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect (2012) builds upon Bennett’s attention to the affective dimensions of the nonhuman material world, but shows us how race, sexuality, and disability have shaped our notions of liveliness and of who and what matters in this world.  In The Biopolitics of Feeling: Race, Sex, and Science in the Nineteenth Century (2017) Kyla Schuller extends this critique, illustrating how the 19th century sciences of “impressibility” and animacy helped to solidify ontologies of racial difference, ideas that have had an often unacknowledged afterlife in new materialist philosophies.  Moreover, Bennett’s work has helped to lay the ground work for innovative book series like ANIMA, edited by Mel Chen and Jasbir Puar, which brings queer, race, and disability theory to bear on our understanding of life and matter, and Elements, edited by Stacy Alaimo and Nicole Starosielski, which foregrounds the material elements as lively forces that shape politics and culture.

My task was to name one book of the decade, and as you see, instead I named one book, and two more, and then two book series. Maybe that’s my way of dodging the task. But it also speaks to the expansive and generative quality of books, as they travel, intersect, and influence one another, as well as the vibrancy of the scholarly conversations I’m so privileged to be a part of. I can’t wait to see which books make their mark in the coming decade. . . .

Gisela Fosado, Editor

Light in the DarkGloria Anzaldúa’s brilliant book Light in the Dark/Luz en lo Oscuro is a work that is decades ahead of its time.  Published in 2015, but written before Anzaldúa’s untimely death in 2004, the book engages feminist and queer aesthetics, ontologies, epistemologies, and ethics, offering a new decolonial vision for our world.  It’s a must-read for all feminist scholars.

Elizabeth Ault, Editor

My book of the decade is Kristin Peterson’s Speculative Markets. I arrived at Duke Press in 2012, mere weeks after Speculative Marketsdefending my dissertation in American studies (focused on Black-cast sitcoms of the 1970s). I was pretty burnt out after 6 years of grad school, and feeling a little distant and alienated from the political passion and the joy of intellectual inquiry that had put me on an academic path in the first place. Speculative Markets was one of the first books I got to work on at the Press. Peterson’s book, an ethnography of pharmaceuticals in Nigeria, wasn’t an obvious fit with my areas of expertise. But the book begins with a blistering account of structural adjustment in the global 1970s and 80s, providing African perspectives on the global rise of neoliberalism, which had loomed large in my previous work. Thinking neoliberalism, the durability of colonial forms, speculation, and global anti-Blackness from Nigeria with Peterson introduced me to what cultural and medical anthropology and African studies can do. The book reoriented my perspective, introduced me to new conversations, and reminded me of the power of scholarship. It’s helped me chart the course that has comprised my career here at the Press over the past 7 years, which is why it’s my book of the decade.

Miriam Angress, Associate Editor

RemnantsOne of the books I’m joyful to have worked on is Remnants: A Memoir of Spirit, Activism, and Mothering, written by Rosemarie Freeney Harding with her daughter Rachel Elizabeth Harding. The author—an influential civil-rights activist—believed in the unity of all great spiritual teachings, and practiced multiple religions herself; she looked for the compassionate underpinnings of these traditions, such as the link she saw between Tibetan Buddhist teachings and lessons she learned from her mother as they visited dying relatives. Remnants incorporates stories of her civil rights leadership, co-founding an early integrated community center in Atlanta with her husband Dr. Vincent Harding, and working with friends and colleagues including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, Anne Braden, Dr. Howard Thurman and Sue Bailey Thurman, and Sweet Honey in the Rock singer Bernice Reagon.

Rachel Harding (Associate Professor of Indigenous Spiritual Traditions at University of Colorado) worked with her mother on the memoir for a decade before Freeney Harding’s death in 2004. After that, she excavated her mother’s voice from journals, previously published material, recordings, and her own memories.

Sandra Korn, Assistant Editor

Normal Life2011 was the year I realized that I was queer, and the year that I officially scrapped my parents’ dreams that I would become a scientist, when I switched my undergraduate major to Women, Gender, and Sexuality studies. It’s also the year that Dean Spade first published Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law with South End Press. Same-sex marriage legalization and hate crime laws covering gender identity were slowly sweeping the U.S. state by state. Yet Dean Spade taught me that waiting for the courts to grant legal equality (the model adopted by the gay and lesbian rights movement) would never be sufficient to address the root causes of violence against trans people across the planet. Instead, Spade argues that trans liberation requires a grassroots movement, led by trans people most impacted by criminalization, surveillance, and detention and deportation. Duke Press published the second edition of Normal Life in 2015, and this book feels just as necessary as we head into 2020.

 

 

New Books in October

It’s official—fall has arrived! With the start of this new season, we’re releasing dynamic new reads in art and visual culture, anthropology, feminist studies, cultural studies, sociology, and more. Check out all of these exciting books available in October.

Continuing the work she began in The Promise of Happiness and Willful Subjects by taking up a single word and following its historical, intellectual, and political significance, Sara Ahmed explores how use operates as an organizing concept, technology of control, and tool for diversity work in What’s the Use?

In Where Histories Reside Priya Jaikumar examines seven decades of films shot on location in India to show how attending to filmed space reveals alternative timelines and histories of cinema as well as the myriad ways cinema constructs India as a place.

Eva Haifa Giraud contends in What Comes after Entanglement? that recent theory that foregrounds the ways that human existence is entangled with other nonhuman life and the natural world often undermine successful action and calls for new modes of activist organizing and theoretical critique.

The contributors to Reading Sedgwick (edited by Lauren Berlant) reflect on the long and influential career of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, whose pioneering work in queer theory has transformed understandings of affect, intimacy, politics, and identity.

Conceptualizing anthropology as a mode of practical and transformative inquiry in A Possible Anthropology, Anand Pandian stages an ethnographic encounter with the field in an effort to grasp its impact on the world and its potential for addressing and offering solutions to the profound crises of the present.

In Symbolic Violence Michael Burawoy brings Pierre Bourdieu into an extended debate with Marxism by outlining the parallels and divergences between Bourdieu’s thought and preeminent Marxist theorists including Gramsci, Fanon, Beauvoir, and Freire.

Achille Mbembe theorizes the genealogy of the contemporary world—one plagued by inequality, militarization, enmity, and a resurgence of racist, fascist, and nationalist forces—and calls for a radical revision of humanism a the means to create a more just society in Necropolitics.

In Fidel between the Lines Laura-Zoë Humphreys tracks late-socialist Cuba’s changing dynamics of social criticism and censorship through Cuban cinema and its cultural politics.

In A Fragile Inheritance, Saloni Mathur investigates the work of two seminal figures from the global South: the New Delhi-based critic and curator Geeta Kapur and contemporary multimedia artist Vivan Sundaram, illuminating  how their political and aesthetic commitments intersect and foreground uncertainty, difficulty, conflict, and contradiction.  

Ronak K. Kapadia examines multimedia visual art by artists from societies besieged by the US war on terror in Insurgent Aesthetics, showing how their art offers queer feminist critiques of US global warfare that forge new aesthetic and social alliances with which to sustain critical opposition to the global war machine.

In Eros Ideologies Laura E. Pérez analyzes Latina art to explore a new notion of decolonial thought and love based on the integration of body, mind, and spirit that offers a means to creating a more democratic and just present and future.

Edited by Frances Richard, I Stand in My Place with My Own Day Here features essays by more than fifty renowned international writers considering thirteen monumental works of art commissioned by The New School between 1930 and the present. We are distributing this beautiful art book for The New School.

Between Form and Content is a catalog that accompanied the first exhibition to focus on Jacob Lawrence’s experience at Black Mountain College in North Carolina in 1946, where his interaction with Josef Albers had a lasting impact on his future career. We are distributing this catalog for Black Mountain College Museum + Art Center.

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National Hispanic Heritage Month Reads

September 15th through October 15th is National Hispanic American Heritage Month. To celebrate, we have selected several of our recent books and journal issues that explore Chincanx and Latinx studies, art, and history, as well as bring awareness to issues faced by the Latinx community.

978-0-8223-6938-7_prIn Eros IdeologiesLaura E. Pérez analyzes Latina art to explore a new notion of decolonial thought and love based on the integration of body, mind, and spirit that offers a means to creating a more democratic and just present and future.

Renato Rosaldo’s new prose poetry collection, The Chasers, shares his experiences and those of his group of twelve Mexican-American Tucson High School friends known as the Chasers as they grew up, graduated, and fell out of touch, conveying the realities of Chicano life on the borderlands from the 1950s to the present.

In Deported Americans, legal scholar and former public defender, Beth C. Caldwell, tells the story of dozens of immigrants who were deported from the United States—the only country they have ever known—to Mexico, tracking the harmful consequences of deportation for those on both sides of the border.

Chicano and Chicana ArtChicano and Chicana Art, curated by Jennifer A. González, C. Ondine Chavoya, Chon Noriega, and Terezita Romo, is an anthology that includes essays from artists, curators, and critics and provides an overview of the history and theory of Chicano/a art from the 1960s to the present, emphasizing the debates and vocabularies that have played key roles in its conceptualization.

Pop América, 1965–1975, edited by Esther Gabara, is a bilingual, fully illustrated catalogue. It accompanies the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University’s exhibition Pop América, 1965–1975, which presents a vision of Pop art across the Americas as a whole.

coverimage-3Trans Studies en las Américas,” a special issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, is an unprecedented English-language collection by Latin American and Latinx scholars on trans and travesti issues. Contributors offer a hemispheric perspective on trans and travesti issues, expand transgender studies to engage geopolitical connections, and bring interdisciplinary approaches to topics ranging from policy to cultural production.

With roots in protest and social change, Latinx theater carries an artistic vitality and urgency that has only been augmented by resistance to the current wave of repressive white nationalism. In “What’s Next for Latinx?“, an issue of Theater, contributors ask where Latinx theater is going and what challenges it faces.

New Books in August

Our Fall 2019 season is off to a phenomenal start with a diverse range of titles in Theory and Philosophy, African American Studies, Native and Indigenous Studies, and more. Take a look at all of these great new books coming in August!

Intersectionality as Critical Social Theory by Patricia Hill Collins

Intersectionality as Critical Social Theory by Patricia Hill Collins offers a set of analytical tools for those wishing to develop intersectionality’s capability to theorize social inequality in ways that would facilitate social change.

In Animate Literacies, Nathan Snaza proposes a new theory of literature and literacy in which he outlines how literacy operates at the interface of humans, nonhuman animals, and objects and has been used as a means to define the human in ways that marginalize others.

Fictions of Land and Flesh by Mark Rifkin

Mark Rifkin’s Fictions of Land and Flesh turns to black and indigenous speculative fiction to show how it offers a site to better understand black and indigenous political movements’ differing orientations in ways that can foster forms of mutual engagement and cooperation without subsuming them into a single political framework in the name of solidarity.

In The Black Shoals Tiffany Lethabo King uses the shoal—an offshore geologic formation that is neither land nor sea—as metaphor, mode of critique, and methodology to theorize the encounter between Black studies and Native studies and its potential to create new epistemologies, forms of practice, and lines of critical inquiry.

Savage Ecology by Jairus Victor Grove

Jairus Victor Grove’s Savage Ecology offers an ecological theorization of geopolitics in which he contends that contemporary global crises are better understood when considered within the larger history of geopolitical practice, showing how political violence is the principal force behind climate change, mass extinction, slavery, genocide, extractive capitalism, and other catastrophes. Watch the trailer for the book here.

In How to Make Art at the End of the World Natalie Loveless examines the institutionalization of artistic research-creation—a scholarly activity that considers art practices as research methods in their own right—and its significance to North American higher education.

Wages Against Artwork Leigh Claire La Berge’s Wages Against Artwork shows how socially engaged art responds to and critiques what she calls decommodified labor—the slow diminishment of wages alongside an increase of demands of work—as a way to work toward social justice and economic equality.

In Sounds of Vacation, edited by Jocelyne Guilbault and Timothy Rommen, the contributors examine the commodification of music and sound at popular vacation destinations throughout the Caribbean in order to tease out the relationships between political economy, hospitality, and the legacies of slavery and colonialism. 

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What’s Next for Latinx?

We’re pleased to share “What’s Next for Latinx?”, the newest issue of Theater, edited by Chantal Rodriguez and Tom Sellar. Read the entire issue, freely available for three months.

With roots in protest and social change, Latinx theater carries an artistic vitality and urgency that has only been augmented by resistance to the current wave of repressive white nationalism. Even as U.S. agencies perpetuate inhumane policies and deplorable human rights violations against Latinxs, Latinx theatermakers continue to claim their places on America’s largest stages. In “What’s Next for Latinx?”, contributors ask where Latinx theater is going and what challenges it faces.

The Chasers Reunite for Book Launch

Recently a group of friends who attended Tucson High School in the 1950s gathered to launch the book of prose poetry inspired by their experiences, Renato Rosaldo’s The Chasers. Rosaldo writes about the gathering in this guest post.

On May 11, 2019, I went to Tucson with my son, Sam, and his son, Micah. I handed books to the Chasers as they arrived at the party. After a short while the Chasers slowly opened their books, They took their time. It was a lot to absorb, their joy and the realization that this was their/our book.  Once all had arrived, Louie then asked me to sign his copy. I did so slowly, keeping the ceremonial rhythm. It gave me time to find a personal dedication for each one. I followed suit for each of the others as they asked me to sign.

RenatoSigning

Renato Rosaldo signing a copy of The Chasers. Photo by Daniel Chavez.

The afternoon was cool for Tucson in May. The moment we finished eating a thunderstorm, with heavy wind and lightening abruptly came up. A door slammed loudly. We laughed and said Rocha must have slammed the door because he was pissed that we didn’t invite him. He passed away a couple of months ago.

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L-R, Rich Koenig, Louie Dancil, and Dickie Delahanty. Photo by Daniel Chavez.

We went indoors and Angie, then Patti asked me to read from the book. Bobby was on speaker phone and he punctuated the reading with his moments of recognition, bellowing, “Oh, my God.” We laughed and kept a silence and sense of awe. The book and the evening left me with a feeling of having experienced deep meaning. Thank you Chasers. Thank you book-makers. I am still in awe.

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The Chasers at a reunion in 2018. Photo by Daniel Chavez.

You can save 40% on The Chasers during our Spring Sale with coupon code SPRING40. Read an excerpt here and watch the trailer here.

New Books in May

Jump-start your summer reading with one of our new titles this May!

In Coral Empire Ann Elias traces the history of two explorers whose photographs and films of tropical reefs in the 1920s cast corals and the sea as an unexplored territory to be exploited in ways that tied the tropics and reefs to colonialism, racism, and the human domination of nature.

The contributors to Remaking New Orleans, edited by Thomas Jessen Adams and Matt Sakakeeny, challenge the uncritical acceptance of New Orleans-as-exceptional narratives, showing how they flatten the diversity, experience, and culture of the city’s residents and obscure other possible understandings.

The ChasersRenato Rosaldo’s new prose poetry collection, The Chasers, shares his experiences and those of his group of twelve Mexican-American Tucson High School friends known as the Chasers as they grew up, graduated, and fell out of touch, conveying the realities of Chicano life on the borderlands from the 1950s to the present.

In Queering Black Atlantic Religions Roberto Strongman examines three Afro-diasporic religions—Hatian Vodou, Cuban Lucumí/Santería, and Brazilian Candomblé—to demonstrate how the commingling of humans and the divine during trance possession produce subjectivities whose genders are unconstrained by biological sex.

Written in 1937, published in Spanish in 1973, and appearing here in English for the first time, Freddy Prestol Castillo’s novel You Can Cross the Massacre on Foot is one of the few accounts of the 1937 massacre of tens of thousands of Haitians living in the Dominican Republic.

Book Reports

In Book Reports, a generous collection of book reviews and literary essays, rock critic Robert Christgau shows readers a different side to his esteemed career with reviews of books ranging from musical autobiographies, criticism, and histories to novels, literary memoirs, and cultural theory.

The contributors to From Russia with Code, edited by Mario Biagioli and Vincent Antonin Lépinay, examine Russian computer scientists, programmers, and hackers in and outside of Russia within the context of new international labor markets and the economic, technological, and political changes in post-Soviet Russia.

In Camp TV Quinlan Miller reframes American television history by tracing a camp aesthetic and the common appearance of trans queer gender characters in both iconic and lesser known sitcoms throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

The coauthors of Decolonizing Ethnography integrate ethnography with activist work in a New Jersey center for undocumented workers, showing how anthropology can function as a vehicle for activism and as a tool for marginalized people to theorize their own experiences.

In Work! Elspeth H. Brown traces modeling’s history from the advent of photographic modeling in the early twentieth century to the rise of the supermodel in the 1980s, showing how it is both the quintessential occupation of a modern consumer economy and a practice that has been shaped by queer sensibilities.

In Figures of Time Toni Pape examines contemporary television that often presents a conflict-laden conclusion first before relaying the events that led up to that inevitable ending, showing how this narrative structure attunes audiences to the fear-based political doctrine of preemption—a logic that justifies preemptive action to nullify a perceived future threat.

In Anti-Japan Leo T. S. Ching traces the complex dynamics that shape persisting negative attitudes toward Japan throughout East Asia, showing how anti-Japanism stems from the failed efforts at decolonization and reconciliation, the U.S. military presence, and shifting geopolitical and economic conditions in the region.

The Cuba Reader

Tracking Cuban history from 1492 to the present, this revised and expanded second edition of The Cuba Reader presents myriad perspectives on Cuba’s history, culture, and politics, including a new section that explores the changes and continuities in Cuba since Fidel Castro stepped down from power in 2006.

The Fernando Coronil Reader, a posthumously published collection of anthropologist Fernando Coronil’s most important work, highlights his deep concern with the global South, Latin American state formation, theories of nature, empire and postcolonialism, and anthrohistory as an intellectual and ethical approach.

The extensively updated and revised third edition of the bestselling Social Medicine Reader (Volume I and Volume II) provides a survey of the challenging issues facing today’s health care providers, patients, and caregivers with writings by scholars in medicine, the social sciences, and the humanities. It will be a great addition to courses in public health, medicine, nursing, and more.

Catherine Waldby traces how the history of the valuing of human oocytes—the reproductive cells specific to women—intersects with the biological and social life of women in her new book The Oocyte Economy.

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Poem of the Week

The ChasersOur final poem of the week for National Poetry Month 2019 is from the forthcoming book The Chasers by Renato Rosaldo. This prose poetry collection shares his experiences and those of his group of twelve Mexican-American Tucson High School friends known as the Chasers as they grew up, graduated, and fell out of touch, conveying the realities of Chicano life on the borderlands from the 1950s to the present. The Chasers comes out in May.

 

 

The Chaser Mystique

Most said we’d turn out badly.

Our name signified wild guy, partier, fighter. We thrived on reputation. Whether
they admired or hated us, everyone knew who we were, our jackets, our spot in the stairwell.

We played the cat, built a mystique, but we were just Mexican kids out for fun, nothing profound.

One dad in moving and storage, Chico’s dad a professor, another selling beer at ball games, another a cop, and yet another, head of a rotating credit association, the Alianza
Hispanoamericana.

We were in shape, every summer our arms threw baseballs, our backs strained under
bulky furniture. One worked as a lifeguard.

We hadn’t seen each other for fifty years, gathered at the Tucson High School reunion, told ourselves stories about ourselves, laughed as if we’d been together the day before.

At our reunion, people still talked about us, still gave a shit after fifty years.

Bobby Shoumaker and Richard Rocha

 

Watch the trailer for The Chasers here.

Renato Rosaldo is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at New York University and the author of several books, including The Day of Shelly’s Death, also published by Duke University Press.

Q&A with Beth C. Caldwell, Author of Deported Americans

Beth Caldwell PhotoBeth C. Caldwell is Professor of Legal Analysis, Writing, and Skills at Southwestern Law School and was formerly an attorney in the Los Angeles County Office of the Public Defender. Caldwell’s experiences as a public defender led her to her new book, Deported Americans, in which she tells the story of dozens of immigrants who were deported from the United States—the only country they have ever known—to Mexico, tracking the harmful consequences of deportation for those on both sides of the border.

Who are the deported Americans about whom you write? What are the most common problems they face that result in their deportation?

I use the term deported Americans primarily to refer to people who migrated to the United States when they were children (often at a very young age), who have now been deported. These are people who were primarily socialized in the United States, who grew up attending American schools, and who are more comfortable speaking English than Spanish. They’re not U.S. citizens, but they identify as Americans culturally, and others perceive them as Americans too.

The term is also broad enough to encompass U.S. citizen family members of people who have been deported—particularly the children and spouses of deportees. Although not technically deported under the law, they often feel like they too have been deported because the only option to keep their families together is to leave the United States.

Both groups refer to their experiences as “banishment” or “exile” from their homes, and they experience a range of problems that are not surprising if you imagine how it would feel to be uprooted from all that is familiar to you—from your home, your career, your family and friends. This can trigger a sense of hopelessness that can fuel mental health issues, most often depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and thoughts of suicide. It can also push some to turn to drugs to numb their pain. Family relationships often erode in the years following deportation, which contributes to these problems.

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In Mexico, deported Americans are stigmatized and are not accepted by the dominant culture. They report feeling marginalized by their American accents and ties to the United States. This can trigger profound questions about one’s identity because people feel a sense of double rejection, by both the United States and Mexico.

You mention in your introduction that you did not set out deliberately to write this book, but rather stumbled upon it through your work and informal conversations with deported people living in Mexico. Can you speak more to how these experiences and relationships shaped your approach?

Since I didn’t deliberately set out to research this issue, I didn’t set out with any preconceived notions or expectations as a researcher who is testing a hypothesis might do. Instead, the project was shaped by listening to people and, in some cases, by observing people’s day-to-day interactions as they adjusted to the reality of being deported. Common themes emerged in people’s narratives. When I would speak with people in the U.S. about what I was hearing, people were often surprised. And I realized that it was important to document and share the other side of deportation, so that people in the U.S. would have to confront, or at least be more aware of, the very real harms that flow from the country’s deportation policies.

How does activism—yours and others’—shape the narrative in Deported Americans?

I consider the negative rhetoric that depicts immigrants as others—as invaders or as dangerous—to be the biggest obstacle to creating more humane immigration policies in the U.S. No amount of activism can bring about just immigration reforms as long as some immigrants are characterized as “good” and “deserving” while others are cast aside as “bad” or “criminal,” and therefore disposable.

One of the primary goals of the narrative in Deported Americans is to highlight the nuances and complexities in people’s lives in order to help readers to see that even people who would commonly be depicted as “bad” or “undeserving” have compelling stories and are deserving of humane treatment under the law. By telling people’s stories, I try to strip away the dehumanizing labels that are often applied to immigrants with criminal convictions in order to help readers to see people more holistically.

What do you think is the most surprising aspect of immigration law as it affects deported Americans?

Often, stories about immigrants focus on recent arrivals to the U.S., but many deportees are members of American families. The U.S. deported over 250,000 parents of U.S. citizen children between 2011 and 2017, in addition to many spouses of U.S. citizens. People are always surprised when I talk about U.S. citizens whose spouses have been deported. There seems to be a pervasive belief that marriage to a U.S. citizen protects people from deportation, but this is not the case. I’ve interviewed many U.S. citizens who now live in Mexico because their spouses have been deported, and others who are struggling with family separation because they have stayed in the U.S. after a spouse’s deportation.

People are also surprised by the lack of proportionality in these cases. There is a major disconnect between sentences in criminal court and the sanctions people experience in the immigration system, even though both systems are often imposing penalties on the basis of the same conduct. For example, a lawful permanent resident (otherwise known as a green card holder) could be convicted of a crime for which they are sentenced with minimal jail time and probation in the criminal justice system. But in immigration court, they could face virtually automatic, permanent deportation—with no realistic hope of ever lawfully returning to the U.S.—because of the same conviction.

Many news stories paint pictures of immigrants and deportees. What is the most important way that you think Deported Americans changes or contradicts these narratives?

I deliberately focus on sharing the stories of immigrants with criminal convictions to disrupt the pervasive representation of some immigrants as “good” and others as “bad.” A lot of people are framed as “dangerous” due to criminal convictions that really have nothing to do with whether they are in fact dangerous. And in many cases, it seems more dangerous to deport them—to separate them from their families, or to force their U.S. citizen family members to leave the United States if they want to stay together.

Harsh immigration policies that apply to immigrants with criminal convictions emerged alongside the tough-on-crime movement of the 1980s and 1990s. In many cases, the same laws that created drug sentencing policies that are now widely criticized also created draconian immigration policies. Although there is an emerging consensus that the War on Drugs was problematic, and there has been some progress to roll back some of its policies, very little attention has focused on the parallel problems in the immigration system. I hope to draw people’s attention to this issue.

In the context of arguments over the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and the news about the child detention centers, how do you see conversations about deportation changing? Staying the same?

People are certainly more interested in the topic of deportation now than in the recent past. This is an interesting shift because numerically, more people were actually being deported a few years ago. I think that the more that the consequences of U.S. immigration policy come to light, the more the average American is concerned about the issues, especially when it comes to family separation. Although more attention has focused on family separation affecting people upon their entry to the United States, family separation brought about by deportation fits into the overall problem that the U.S. immigration system regularly separates children from their parents.

The issue of family separation is also directly tied to the wall. When I was first starting out my research in Tijuana, I interviewed a social worker who runs a shelter for women and children. Her shelter houses a lot of recent deportees. She was convinced that no barrier—no fence, no wall, no punishments—would stop mothers from trying to return to the United States because the instinct to reunite with their children was stronger than anything. It’s a primal instinct. Due to a long history of migration from Mexico to the U.S., which the U.S. has welcomed at many times because of a desire for Mexican labor, families are deeply interconnected across the border, and across immigration statuses. The rhetoric framing migration as an “invasion” by foreigners misses this important reality.

What do you hope readers will take away from Deported Americans?

Deportation causes a lot of harm—to both the deportees and their families, who are often U.S. citizens. It has become a normalized aspect of our society, but we should really think about whether it should be. Deportation has always been used as a tool for excluding and removing marginalized people from societies, so its roots are suspect. I hope readers will walk away from the book with lingering questions about how we might better approach the social problems deportation is currently used to address, but in a more humane way.

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