Thursday, May 18, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Testimony by Scott Turow

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Testimony by Scott Turow

At the age of fifty, former prosecutor Bill ten Boom has walked out on everything he thought was important to him: his law career, his wife, Kindle County, even his country. Still, when he is tapped by the International Criminal Court--an organization charged with prosecuting crimes against humanity--he feels drawn to what will become the most elusive case of his career. Over ten years ago, in the apocalyptic chaos following the Bosnian war, an entire Roma refugee camp vanished. Now for the first time, a witness has stepped forward: Ferko Rincic claims that armed men marched the camp's Gypsy residents to a cave in the middle of the night--and then with a hand grenade set off an avalanche, burying 400 people alive. Only Ferko survived.

Boom's task is to examine Ferko's claims and determine who might have massacred the Roma. His investigation takes him from the International Criminal Court's base in Holland to the cities and villages of Bosnia and secret meetings in Washington, DC, as Boom sorts through a host of suspects, ranging from Serb paramilitaries, to organized crime gangs, to the US government itself, while also maneuvering among the alliances and treacheries of those connected to the case: Layton Merriwell, a disgraced US major general desperate to salvage his reputation; Sergeant Major Atilla Doby,a vital cog in American military operations near the camp at the time of the Roma's disappearance; Laza Kajevic, the brutal former leader of the Bosnian Serbs; Esma Czarni, Ferko's alluring barrister; and of course, Ferko himself, on whose testimony the entire case rests-and who may know more than he's telling.

KJ

A master of the legal thriller, Scott Turow has returned with his most irresistibly confounding and satisfying novel yet.

May 18, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Porous Borders Multiracial Migrations and the Law in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands by Julian Lim

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Porous Borders Multiracial Migrations and the Law in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands by Julian Lim (University of North Carolina Press, November 2017)

With the railroad’s arrival in the late nineteenth century, immigrants of all colors rushed to the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, transforming the region into a booming international hub of economic and human activity. Following the stream of Mexican, Chinese, and African American migration, Julian Lim presents a fresh study of the multiracial intersections of the borderlands, where diverse peoples crossed multiple boundaries in search of new economic opportunities and social relations. However, as these migrants came together in ways that blurred and confounded elite expectations of racial order, both the United States and Mexico resorted to increasingly exclusionary immigration policies in order to make the multiracial populations of the borderlands less visible within the body politic, and to remove them from the boundaries of national identity altogether.

Using a variety of English- and Spanish-language primary sources from both sides of the border, Lim reveals how a borderlands region that has traditionally been defined by Mexican-Anglo relations was in fact shaped by a diverse population that came together dynamically through work and play, in the streets and in homes, through war and marriage, and in the very act of crossing the border.

KJ

 

May 16, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Milena, or The Most Beautiful Femur in the World By Jorge Zepeda Patterson

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Milena, or The Most Beautiful Femur in the World by Jorge Zepeda Patterson (Translated from the Spanish by Adrian Nathan West) (Published May 2, 2017)

After Milena’s lover and protector Rosendo Franco dies in her arms, she must go on the run from the human-trafficking ring that once kidnapped her from her Croatian village and forced her into prostitution. Soon, three old friends from Mexico City are after her as well—but for different reasons. Newspaper columnist Tomás Arizmendi seeks to retrieve Milena’s little black book that could bring down the media empire he inherited from Franco, while dubious intelligence expert Jaime Lemus wants to use the sensitive information it contains about the crimes of the world’s power elite to further his political puppeteering. The noblest of the trio, politician Amelia Navarro simply wants to carry out her mission to protect women and children from the abuses of men in power.

Told with a sly humor and journalistic detail, Milena, or The Most Beautiful Femur in the World traces in its romp across Europe and the Americas the vast networks of capital, information, and crime that bind together today’s globalized world. In the beautiful and mysterious Milena we encounter an unforgettable woman who reminds us that the survivors of modernity’s ills are not mere statistics but living, breathing, tenacious individuals.

Author:  Economist and sociologist Jorge Zepeda Patterson was born in Mazatlán, México, in 1952. He received a masters degree from the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales and a doctorate in political science from The Sorbonne. After his journalistic training at El País, he was the founding editor of the newspapers Siglo 21 and Público in Guadalajara, and was later editor-in-chief of El Universal. He has authored numerous books on political analysis, and his weekly column appears in over twenty newspapers in Mexico. He currently edits the news website SinEmbargo.mx.

KJ

May 2, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 24, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus: Immigrant Incorporation in New Destinations by Stefanie Chambers

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Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus:  Immigrant Incorporation in New Destinations by Stefanie Chambers

n the early 1990s, Somali refugees arrived in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Later in the decade, an additional influx of immigrants arrived in a second destination of Columbus, Ohio. These refugees found low-skill jobs in warehouses and food processing plants and struggled as social "outsiders," often facing discrimination based on their religious traditions, dress, and misconceptions that they are terrorists. The immigrant youth also lacked access to quality educational opportunities.

In Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus, Stefanie Chambers provides a cogent analysis of these refugees in Midwestern cities where new immigrant communities are growing. Her comparative study uses qualitative and quantitative data to assess the political, economic, and social variations between these urban areas. Chambers examines how culture and history influenced the incorporation of Somali immigrants in the U.S., and recommends policy changes that can advance rather than impede incorporation.

Her robust investigation provides a better understanding of the reasons these refugees establish roots in these areas, as well as how these resettled immigrants struggle to thrive.

KJ

April 24, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

From the Bookshelves: In the Fields of the North / En los Campos del Norte Photographs and text by David Bacon

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In the Fields of the North / En los Campos del Norte Photographs and text by David Bacon University of California Press / Colegio de la Frontera Norte Publication date:  May 1, 2017 302 photographs, 450pp, 9”x9” paperback

In the Fields of the North is an intensive look at farm workers, documenting work life, living conditions, culture and migration through over 300 photographs and many narratives of workers themselves, in both English and Spanish. The conditions of farm workers have deteriorated greatly since the 1970s and 80s. At the same time, over half of the farm workers of today come from towns in Mexico where people speak indigenous languages like Mixteco and Triqui.

In the Fields of the North shows that these conditions are provoking a new wave of organizing efforts. It does so visually, and in the words of farm workers themselves.

KJ
 

April 19, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Human Trafficking by Cheryl Taylor Page, Robert William Piatt, Jr.

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Human Trafficking by Cheryl Taylor Page, Robert William Piatt, Jr.

Slavery has not been eradicated.  Human Trafficking explores the legal, moral, and political attempts to contain sex and labor trafficking.  The authors bring unique perspectives to these topics. Professor Page, an African-American woman all too familiar with the vestiges of slavery, has written and lectured internationally on trafficking.  Professor Piatt, a Hispanic law professor and former law school dean, brings his international experience as an educator, author, and advocate regarding immigration and human rights matters to bear.  The book considers efforts at containment, including controversial topics such as whether prostitution should be legalized.  It concludes with specific approaches to eliminate trafficking. 

KJ

April 18, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

This American Life: Line in the Sand -- A Border Patrol Agent Story

Listen to this "This American Life"  podcast.  A Border Patrol agent takes us deep inside his experience patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border. Read by Francisco Cantu, and excerpted from his upcoming memoir, “The Line Becomes A River.”  Here is a description of the book:

Every day, a ceaseless flow of men, women and children push their way north, in scorched summer heat, across raw desert terrain and man-made boundaries into the domain of the United States Border Patrol.

The Border Patrol acts as the last link in a long chain from political rhetoric to policy to practice. Guarding desert and mountain passes, the agents detain the lost, the dehydrated, and the unlucky, sending them back across the line, where many of them will try their luck again and again, their desperate hope much stronger than fear of imprisonment or death.

Francisco Cantú grew up on the border. His mother, a park ranger and second generation Mexican-American, raised him in the national parks and deserts of southern Arizona. Forever intrigued by the landscape of his childhood, Francisco decided to pursue a master’s degree, focusing on border relations. Yearning for an understanding academia can’t give, Francisco takes a leap of faith and joins the Border Patrol, committing himself to this unnaturally divided space and the people who cross it.

Training first as a field agent, Cantú learns to track humans through signs in the desert dirt and detect movement with thermal sensors. He makes arrests- people young and old, despondent and defiant, alone or clinging to the fallen bodies of family members who have lost their battle to the elements. After three years in the field, nerves fraying, Cantú is promoted to intelligence, a desk job that takes him out of the physical brutality of the field but mires him in a world of drug cartels and violence.As horrific nightmares haunt him, he suffers from jaw-clenching pain and becomes increasingly paranoid, eventually deciding to leave the job behind. But even with patrol life behind him, Cantú’s search for peace of mind is fraught. Working as a barista, he bonds with José, the café’s maintenance man, a proud husband and father who has lived in the United States for over 30 years.When José returns to Michoacán to pay his respects to his dying mother, he is detained trying to cross the border, and Cantú is forced to once again confront his demons.

THE LINE BECOMES A RIVER presents a personal examination into the structural violence that has become US-Mexico border’s defining characteristic. Attention to the border has never been more pronounced than it is today. The images called up by politicians and the media loom in our collective consciousness- the intractable corruption, the violence, “The Wall.” As Cantú wrestles with his sense of responsibility and hopelessness, he opens up a nuanced, transformative conversation and exposes the realities of the deep human struggles of those who defend and those who cross.

Francisco Cantú is a recent MFA graduate in nonfiction from the University Arizona. His essays and translations have appeared in Guernica, Ploughshares, Orion, and Public Books, where he serves as a contributing editor. After serving as Border Patrol Agent for the States Border Patrol from 2008-2012, Cantú conducted research on Dutch asylum issues as part of a Fulbright Fellowship. An excerpt from THE LINE BECOMES A RIVER is forthcoming in Best American Essays 2016.
 
KJ

 

April 4, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 24, 2017

From the Bookshelves: States, the Law and Access to Refugee Protection Fortresses and Fairness, Editors: Maria O'Sullivan and Dallal Stevens

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States, the Law and Access to Refugee Protection Fortresses and Fairness, Editors: Maria O'Sullivan and Dallal Stevens

This timely volume seeks to examine two of the most pertinent current challenges faced by asylum seekers in gaining access to international refugee protection: first, the obstacles to physical access to territory and, second, the barriers to accessing a quality asylum procedure – which the editors have termed 'access to justice'.To address these aims, the book brings together leading commentators from a range of backgrounds, including law, sociology and political science. It also includes contributions from NGO practitioners. This allows the collection to offer interdisciplinary analysis and to incorporate both theoretical and practical perspectives on questions of immense contemporary significance. While the examination offers a strong focus on European legal and policy developments, the book also addresses the issues in different regions (Europe, North America, the Middle East, Africa and Australia). Given the currency of the questions under debate, this book will be essential reading for all scholars in the field of asylum law.

KJ

March 24, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Remembering Oscar Romero (1917-1980)

 

From the University of California Press blog:

Remembering Oscar Romero

by Matt Eisenbrandt, author of Assassination of a Saint: The Plot to Murder Óscar Romero and the Quest to Bring His Killers to Justice

Thirty-seven years ago today, a gunman fired a single bullet that took Archbishop Óscar Romero’s life as he said mass inside a small chapel. We just observed the fortieth anniversary of another notorious crime from that era, the murder of Romero’s friend, Rutilio Grande. The 1977 ambush of Father Grande began a string of death-squad attacks on priests and other religious figures in El Salvador, a bloody campaign that lasted more than a decade. The diabolical logic of the killers was summarized in the slogan, “Be a patriot, kill a priest.”

Despite years of slander in some sectors, legacies of Romero and Grande are now being honored. Pope Francis is likely to name Romero a saint of the Catholic Church by the end of the 2017. Religious leaders in El Salvador recently sent the Vatican evidence of a miracle they believe is attributable to Romero’s intercession, the last requirement on the road to sainthood. Rutilio Grande is now being considered for beatification as a martyr, the same hurdle that Romero’s cause cleared in 2015.

My new book, Assassination of a Saint: The Plot to Murder Óscar Romero and the Quest to Bring His Killers to Justice, examines the people who executed Romero and how they did so. Equally important, however, the book explains why the conspirators felt the almost incomprehensible need to target priests, nuns, and lay people who were merely practicing their faith. The answer to that question is found in part in Romero’s own homilies. Despite the danger, Romero regularly criticized the repressive power structure in El Salvador, including the small group of wealthy landowners and businesspeople whose interests were protected by a succession of military governments. Romero referred to them as people “who pile up spoils and plunder in their palaces, who crush the poor, who bring on a reign of violence while reclining on beds of ivory.” Organizations that represented their interests responded by defaming Romero and others, branding them as Communists and traitors. One tabloid, in a 1970s version of fake news, carried the headline “Monseñor Romero Directs Terrorist Group,” with the subtitle, “Archbishop Great Ally of Agents of Subversion.”

The day before his death, Romero delivered his most forceful sermon, calling on Salvadoran soldiers to disobey the orders of their tyrannical commanders. He instead implored them, in the name of God, to “stop the repression.” Father Bill Wipfler, an Episcopalian priest who attended the mass that day in San Salvador and later testified about it in our trial against one of Romero’s killers, turned to a colleague after hearing Romero’s plea and said, “I don’t think that the military is going to let this one pass by.” A day later, Romero was dead.

Despite the devastating impact of Romero’s murder in 1980, today his memory is a source of hope and inspiration to millions in El Salvador and around the world. His canonization will be a historic moment for the country and a validation of his courageous and unflinching message.

KJ

March 24, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

From the Bookshelves: U.S. Central Americans: Reconstructing Memories, Struggles, and Communities of Resistance by Karina Oliva Alvarado

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U.S. Central Americans: Reconstructing Memories, Struggles, and Communities of Resistance by Karina Oliva Alvarado editor, University of Arizona Press 2017

In summer 2014, a surge of unaccompanied child migrants from Central America to the United States gained mainstream visibility—yet migration from Central America has been happening for decades. U.S. Central Americans explores the shared yet distinctive experiences, histories, and cultures of 1.5-and second-generation Central Americans in the United States.

While much has been written about U.S. and Central American military, economic, and political relations, this is the first book to articulate the rich and dynamic cultures, stories, and historical memories of Central American communities in the United States. Contributors to this anthology—often writing from their own experiences as members of this community—articulate U.S. Central Americans’ unique identities as they also explore the contradictions found within this multivocal group.

Working from within Guatemalan, Salvadoran, and Maya communities, contributors to this critical study engage histories and transnational memories of Central Americans in public and intimate spaces through ethnographic, in-depth, semistructured, qualitative interviews, as well as literary and cultural analysis. The volume’s generational, spatial, urban, indigenous, women’s, migrant, and public and cultural memory foci contribute to the development of U.S. Central American thought, theory, and methods. Woven throughout the analysis, migrants’ own oral histories offer witness to the struggles of displacement, travel, navigation, and settlement of new terrain. This timely work addresses demographic changes both at universities and in cities throughout the United States.

U.S. Central Americans draws connections to fields of study such as history, political science, anthropology, ethnic studies, sociology, cultural studies, and literature, as well as diaspora and border studies. The volume is also accessible in size, scope, and language to educators and community and service workers wanting to know about their U.S. Central American families, neighbors, friends, students, employees, and clients.

Contributors:

Leisy Abrego
Karina O. Alvarado
Maritza E. Cárdenas
Alicia Ivonne Estrada
Ester E. Hernández
Floridalma Boj Lopez
Steven Osuna
Yajaira Padilla
Ana Patricia Rodríguez

KJ

March 23, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

From the Bookshelves: ONE NATION UNDECIDED: CLEAR THINKING ABOUT FIVE HARD ISSUES THAT DIVIDE US by Peter H. Schuck

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Abstract

In this new book, One Nation Undecided: Clear Thinking About Five Hard Issues That Divide Us (Princeton UP, 2017), Schuck first analyzes the factors that make "hard" issues hard, explore the quality of public debate about them, and explain what the title means by "clear thinking." Chapters 2 through 6 are devoted to detailed analyses of five hard issues: poverty, immigration, campaign finance, affirmative action, and religious exemptions from secular rules after the Hobby Lobby and Obergefell decisions. Each chapter begins by presenting the issue's context -- the relevant history, law, institutions, politics, and public opinion. Next, it disaggregates the issue into its main components. Beginning with key definitional and measurement questions (as in the case of poverty), it then elaborates the competing norms invoked by different groups and identifies the key factual claims and uncertainties. (Those who dominate public debates on these issues often suppress or ignore these uncertainties, either deliberately or because of their own ignorance.) Finally, each chapter discusses the nature and performance of current federal policies directed at that issue, and the reform options. A concluding chapter explores the similar and dissimilar underlying structures of the five issues.

KJ

March 22, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 6, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Why Walls Won't Work: Repairing the US-Mexico Divide by Michael Dear

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Why Walls Won't Work:   Repairing the US-Mexico Divide by Michael Dear (Oxford University Press, 2015 edition)

Why Walls Won't Work is a sweeping account of life along the United States-Mexico border zone, tracing the border's history of cultural interaction since the earliest Mesoamerican times to the present day. As soon as Mexicans, American settlers, and indigenous peoples came into contact along the Rio Grande in the mid-nineteenth century, new forms of interaction and affiliation evolved. By the late-twentieth century, the border states were among the fastest-growing regions in both countries. But as Michael Dear warns, this vibrant zone of economic, cultural and social connectivity is today threatened by highly restrictive American immigration and security policies as well as violence along the border. The U.S. border-industrial complex and the emerging Mexican narco-state are undermining the very existence of the "third nation" occupying the space between Mexico and the U.S. Through a series of evocative portraits of contemporary border communities, Dear reveals how the promise and potential of this "in-between" nation still endures and is worth protecting.

Now with a new chapter updating this story and suggesting what should be done about the challenges confronting the cross-border zone, Why Walls Won't Work represents a major intellectual intervention into one of the most hotly-contested political issues of our era.

Dear in this post on The Conversation looks at the interrelationship between Mexicans and Americans in the US/Mexico border region.  Needless to say, Dear is not an adherent to Present Trump's proposal to build a "big, beautiful wall."

KJ

March 6, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 4, 2017

To Read or Not to Read? Green Card Warrior: My Quest for Legal Immigration in an Illegals’ System by Nick Adams

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In a tweet early Friday morning, President Trump hailed Nick Adams’s new book, Green Card Warrior,” as a “must read,” suggesting that it offered lessons on how to reimagine the U.S. immigration system. Carlos Lozada writing for the Washington Post disagrees:

"Well, now I’ve read it, and it is not a must read. If not for the president’s endorsement, the book would barely rate a must acknowledge. It is, however, a must laugh, a must groan, and, if “Green Card Warrior” is indeed where Trump is finding ideas for immigration reform, it is also a you must be kidding me."

The official abstract of the book Green Card Warrior: My Quest for Legal Immigration in an Illegals’ System by Nick Adams reads as  follows:

"Nick Adams had it all: charisma, energy, a promising TV career, a new organization and an approved Green Card petition. The world was at his feet. 

Then came the unexpected sabotage and political persecution from one individual. It began a spiral of destruction – finances, family, health and career. He almost lost it all.

Green Card Warrior is an explosive and startling exposé into the world of legal immigration and what many must endure to come to America. 

Rising conservative star Nick Adams reveals how he was persecuted by the Obama Administration, and offers an incisive critique of the immigration system – both legal and illegal. 

This eye-opening account shows how the Obama Administration has broken new ground in its intimidation and harassment of political opponents, now using its State Department to screen and select immigrants based on their politics. 

In Green Card Warrior, Adams recounts his personal tale, setting it against the larger story of the broken legal immigration system, and unfairness of illegal immigration in America today."                               

Nick Adams is the Founder and Executive Director of FLAG, The Foundation for Liberty and American Greatness. He is a speaker, lecturer, author and commentator. Adams holds degrees in Media and Communications, Government and International Relations, Germanic Studies, and Education from the University of Sydney.

KJ

March 4, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 3, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Neocitizenship Political Culture after Democracy by Eva Cherniavsky (NYU Press 2017)

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Neocitizenship Political Culture after Democracy by Eva Cherniavsky (NYU Press 2017)

Neocitizenship explores how the constellation of political and economic forces of neoliberalism have assailed and arguably dismantled the institutions of modern democratic governance in the U.S.  As overtly oligarchical structures of governance replace the operations of representative democracy, the book addresses the implications of this crisis for the practices and imaginaries of citizenship through the lens of popular culture.  Rather than impugn the abject citizen-subject who embraces her degraded condition, Eva Cherniavsky asks what new or hybrid forms of civic agency emerge as popular sovereignty recedes.               

Drawing on a range of political theories, Neocitizenship also suggests that theory is at a disadvantage in thinking the historical present, since its analytical categories are wrought in the very historical contexts whose dissolution we now seek to comprehend. Cherniavsky thus supplements theory with a focus on popular culture that explores  the  de-democratization for citizenship in more generative and undecided ways.  Tracing the contours of neocitizenship in fiction through examples such as The White Boy Shuffle and Distraction, television shows like Battlestar Galactica, and in the design of American studies abroad, Neocitizenship aims to take the measure of a transformation in process, while evading the twin lures of optimism and regret.

KJ

March 3, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Times They Are a Changing: Immigration Headlines in a Time of Trump

 

It has been a wild and wooly few weeks in the U.S. immigration world.  The headlines tell us just how much immigration enforcement has changed with the inauguration of President Trump.  As the New York Times reports, immigration officers feel emboldened by the Trump administration's support for aggressive enforcement measures. It thus seems likely that we will see more events like those described below in coming weeks, months, and years.

News from Florida

The son of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, born and raised in Kentucky, USA, was detained for hours by immigration officials at a Florida airport. Muhammad Ali Jr., 44, and his mother Khalilah Camacho-Ali, the second wife of Muhammad Ali, were arriving at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Feb. 7 after returning from speaking at a Black History Month event in Montego Bay, Jamaica. They were pulled aside while going through customs because of their Arabic-sounding names, according to family friend and lawyer Chris Mancini. Immigration officials let Camacho-Ali go after she showed them a photo of herself with her ex-husband, but her son did not have such a photo and wasn't as lucky. Mancini said officials held and questioned Ali Jr. for nearly two hours, repeatedly asking him, "Where did you get your name from?" and "Are you Muslim?

 

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News from California

Australia’s best-loved children’s author, Mem Fox, was left sobbing and shaken after being detained for two hours and aggressively interrogated by immigration officials at Los Angeles International airport.  Fox says she’s unlikely to ever travel to the United States again after being made to feel like “a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay.”

 

News from Mississippi

The Los Angeles Times reports on immigration raids at a string Asian restaurants in Mississippi.  It now appears that my colleague Jack Chin's analysis of "The War on Chinese Restaurants," can be updated to include the immigration operations of the 21st century.

KJ

February 25, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 24, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Mestizos Come Home! Making and Claiming Mexican American Identity By: Robert Con Davis-Undiano

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Mestizos Come Home!

Making and Claiming Mexican American Identity

By Robert Con Davis-Undiano

Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano has described U.S. and Latin American culture as continually hobbled by amnesia—unable, or unwilling, to remember the influence of mestizos and indigenous populations. In Mestizos Come Home! author Robert Con Davis-Undiano documents the great awakening of Mexican American and Latino culture since the 1960s that has challenged this omission in collective memory. He maps a new awareness of the United States as intrinsically connected to the broader context of the Americas. At once native and new to the American Southwest, Mexican Americans have “come home” in a profound sense: they have reasserted their right to claim that land and U.S. culture as their own.

Mestizos Come Home! explores key areas of change that Mexican Americans have brought to the United States. These areas include the recognition of mestizo identity, especially its historical development across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; the re-emergence of indigenous relationships to land; and the promotion of Mesoamerican conceptions of the human body. Clarifying and bridging critical gaps in cultural history, Davis-Undiano considers important artifacts from the past and present, connecting the casta (caste) paintings of eighteenth-century Mexico to modern-day artists including John Valadez, Alma López, and Luis A. Jiménez Jr. He also examines such community celebrations as Day of the Dead, Cinco de Mayo, and lowrider car culture as examples of mestizo influence on mainstream American culture. Woven throughout is the search for meaning and understanding of mestizo identity.

A large-scale landmark account of Mexican American culture, Mestizos Come Home! shows that mestizos are essential to U.S. national culture. As an argument for social justice and a renewal of America’s democratic ideals, this book marks a historical cultural homecoming.

KJ

February 24, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

From the Bookshelves: The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen

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The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen's The Sympathizer was one of the most widely and highly praised novels of 2015, the winner not only of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, but also the Center for Fiction Debut Novel Prize, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, the ALA Carnegie Medal for Fiction, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and the California Book Award for First Fiction. Nguyen's next fiction book, The Refugees, is a collection of perfectly formed stories written over a period of twenty years, exploring questions of immigration, identity, love, and family.

With the coruscating gaze that informed The Sympathizer, in The Refugees Viet Thanh Nguyen gives voice to lives led between two worlds, the adopted homeland and the country of birth. From a young Vietnamese refugee who suffers profound culture shock when he comes to live with two gay men in San Francisco, to a woman whose husband is suffering from dementia and starts to confuse her for a former lover, to a girl living in Ho Chi Minh City whose older half-sister comes back from America having seemingly accomplished everything she never will, the stories are a captivating testament to the dreams and hardships of immigration. The second piece of fiction by a major new voice in American letters, The Refugees is a beautifully written and sharply observed book about the aspirations of those who leave one country for another, and the relationships and desires for self-fulfillment that define our lives.
 
KJ

February 21, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

From The Bookshelves: Remezcla's Stop Trump Reading List

Can't take the news? Want to escape it all yet nonetheless continue the fight? Try picking up a little something off of Remezcla's Stop Trump Reading List.

Some of the suggestions may be familiar to our readers - like No One Is Illegal by Justin Akers Chacón and Mike Davis. Other might be new. Personally, I'm intrigued by Rebecca Solnit’s Hope In The Dark.

Happy reading.

-KitJ

February 1, 2017 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 20, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Al-Tounsi: A Novel by Anton Piatigorsky

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Al-Tounsi: A Novel by Anton Piatigorsky (2017)

Al-Tounsi is the debut novel by the award-winning playwright, Anton Piatigorsky, and tells the story of the US Supreme Court’s handling of a landmark case involving the rights of detainees held in a US military base. Although the novel follows the case as it maneuvers through the minds and hands of the Justices—the larger-than-life Killian Quinn in the throes of a dangerous affair, the ambitious but insecure Gideon Rosen desperate to make his mark on history, the famed feminist Sarah Kolmann staring down the prospect of losing her husband to cancer--it is ultimately shepherded by one Justice in particular, Rodney Sykes, who begins the novel in emotional crisis. After his wife’s sudden death a year earlier, his relationship with Cassandra, his grown daughter, is in tatters, and he feels unable to repair it. As news of Cassandra’s affair with her boss, a prominent circuit court Judge, comes to light, Rodney confronts his own repression and demons, and gradually allows his private life to influence his legal reasoning.

Al-Tounsi explores in detail how the personal stories and life dramas, career rivalries and political sympathies of these titans blend with their philosophies to create the most important legal decisions of our time.

KJ

January 20, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets! Transmedia Organizing and the Immigrant Rights Movement by Sasha Costanza-Chock

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Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets! Transmedia Organizing and the Immigrant Rights Movement by Sasha Costanza-Chock 

For decades, social movements have vied for attention from the mainstream mass media — newspapers, radio, and television. Today, many argue that social media power social movements, from the Egyptian revolution to Occupy Wall Street. Yet, as Sasha Costanza-Chock reports, community organizers know that social media enhance, rather than replace, face-to-face organizing. The revolution will be tweeted, but tweets alone do not the revolution make. In Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets!, Costanza-Chock traces a much broader social movement media ecology. Through a richly detailed account of daily media practices in the immigrant rights movement, he argues that there is a new paradigm of social movement media making: transmedia organizing. Despite the current spotlight on digital media, he finds, social movement media practices tend to be cross-platform, participatory, and linked to action. Immigrant rights organizers leverage social media creatively, even as they create media ranging from posters and street theater to Spanish-language radio, print, and television.

Drawing on extensive interviews, workshops, and media organizing projects, Costanza-Chock presents case studies of transmedia organizing in the immigrant rights movement over the last decade.  Chapters focus on the historic mass protests against the anti-immigrant Sensenbrenner Bill; coverage of police brutality against peaceful activists; efforts to widen access to digital media tools and skills for low-wage immigrant workers; paths to participation in DREAM activism; and the implications of professionalism for transmedia organizing. These cases show us how savvy transmedia organizers work to strengthen movement identity, win political and economic victories, and transform public consciousness forever.

KJ

January 19, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)