Monday, March 3, 2014
From the Bookshelves: Italian Immigrant Radical Culture The Idealism of the Sovversivi in the United States, 1890-1940 by Marcella Bencivenni
Maligned by modern media and often stereotyped, Italian Americans possess a vibrant, if largely forgotten, radical past. In Italian Immigrant Radical Culture, Marcella Bencivenni delves into the history of the sovversivi, a transnational generation of social rebels, and offers a fascinating portrait of their political struggle as well as their milieu, beliefs, and artistic creativity in the United States. As early as 1882, the sovversivi founded a socialist club in Brooklyn. Radical organizations then multiplied and spread across the country, from large urban cities to smaller industrial mining areas. By 1900, thirty official Italian sections of the Socialist Party along the East Coast and countless independent anarchist and revolutionary circles sprang up throughout the nation. Forming their own alternative press, institutions, and working class organizations, these groups created a vigorous movement and counterculture that constituted a significant part of the American Left until World War II.
Italian Immigrant Radical Culture compellingly documents the wide spectrum of this oppositional culture and examines the many cultural and artistic forms it took, from newspapers to literature and poetry to theater and visual art. As the first cultural history of Italian American activism, it provides a richer understanding of the Italian immigrant experience while also deepening historical perceptions of radical politics and culture.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
From the Bookshelves: Reform Without Justice: Latino Migrant Politics and the Homeland Security State by Alfonso Gonzales
Placed within the context of the past decade's war on terror and emergent and countervailing Latino rights movement, Reform without Justice addresses the issue of state violence against migrants in the United States. It questions why it is that, despite its success in mobilizing millions, the Latino immigrant rights movement has not been able to effectively secure sustainable social justice victories for itself or more successfully defend the human rights of migrants.
Gonzales argues that the contemporary Latino rights movement faces a dynamic form of political power that he terms "anti-migrant hegemony". This anti-migrant hegemony, found in sites of power from Congress, to think tanks, talk shows and the prison system, is a force through which a rhetorically race neutral and common sense public policy discourse, consistent with the rules of post-civil rights racism, is deployed to criminalize migrants. Critically, large sectors of "pro-immigrant" groups, including the Hispanic Congressional Caucus and the National Council of La Raza, have conceded to coercive immigration enforcement measures such as a militarized border wall and the expansion of immigration policing in local communities in exchange for so-called Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Gonzales says that it is precisely when immigration reformers actively adopt the discourse and policies of the leading anti-immigrant forces that the power of anti-migrant hegemony can best be observed.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
From the Bookshelves: Color Matters: Skin Tone Bias and the Myth of a Postracial America Edited by Kimberly Jade Norwood
Color Matters: Skin Tone Bias and the Myth of a Postracial America Edited by Kimberly Jade Norwood. Routledge – 2014
In the United States, as in many parts of the world, people are discriminated against based on the color of their skin. This type of skin tone bias, or colorism, is both related to and distinct from discrimination on the basis of race, with which it is often conflated. Preferential treatment of lighter skin tones over darker occurs within racial and ethnic groups as well as between them. While America has made progress in issues of race over the past decades, discrimination on the basis of color continues to be a constant and often unremarked part of life.
In Color Matters, Kimberly Jade Norwood has collected the most up-to-date research on this insidious form of discrimination, including perspectives from the disciplines of history, law, sociology, and psychology. Anchored with historical chapters that show how the influence and legacy of slavery have shaped the treatment of skin color in American society, the contributors to this volume bring to light the ways in which colorism affects us all--influencing what we wear, who we see on television, and even which child we might pick to adopt.
Sure to be an eye-opening collection for anyone curious about how race and color continue to affect society, Color Matters provides students of race in America with wide-ranging overview of a crucial topic.
Here is the contents of the volume:
Introduction Kimberly Norwood
1. The Ubiquitousness of Colorism: Then and Now, Kimberly Norwood and Violeta Foreman
2. The Origins of Colorism in Early American Law, Paul Finkelman
3. The Rise and Fall of the One-Drop Rule: How the Importance of Color Came to Eclipse Race, Kevin D. Brown
4. A Darker Shade of Pale Revisited: Disaggregated Blackness and Colorism in the "Postracial" Obama Era, Taunya Banks
5. Interracial Intimacy in the Context of Colorism: How Skin Color Matters, Kellina Craig-Henderson
6. Fragmented Identity: Psychological Insecurity and Colorism among African Americans, Vetta Sanders Thompson
7. Colorism and Blackthink: A Modern Augmentation of Double Consciousness, Kimberly Jade Norwood
8. The Implications of Skin Color vis-à-vis Discrimination: Revisiting Affirmative Action, Ronald Hall and Adrienne Johnson
9. A New Way Forward: The Development and Preliminary Validation of Two Colorism Scales, Richard D. Harvey, Kira Hudson Banks, and Rachel E. Tennial
Based on the Los Angeles Times newspaper series that won two Pulitzer Prizes, the George Polk Award for International Reporting, and the Grand Prize of the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards, ENRIQUE’S JOURNEY puts a human face on the ongoing debate about immigration reform in the United States. The book won the 2011 Williams College Book Award Program, the 2006 California Book Award, Silver Medal in non-fiction, and the 2006 Christopher Book Award. It has been translated into eight languages, chosen by 66 universities and scores of high schools nationwide as a common or freshman read, and selected by 11 cities as a "One City" read.
At a time when America is embroiled in a national debate on immigration that will shape the country’s future, Sonia Nazario argues that we urgently need a different approach. Instead of continuing the same three ineffectual strategies--greater border enforcement (costing $18 billion a year), temporary guest worker programs, and pathways to citizenship--she calls for a new approach that addresses key “push” factors that propel migrants, especially women and children, to leave their homelands. She argues that instead of spending billions on walls that don’t work, the U.S. must improve conditions in four countries that send 74% of migrants who come to the U.S. illegally by increasing aide to help improve education for girls, lowering birthrates; promoting micro-loans to help women start job-generating businesses; and gear trade policies to give clear preference to goods from these four countries. As the Latino electorate is felt more acutely at the polls and businesses demand more immigrant workers as the economy grows, political leaders are increasingly confronting the immigration issue. House Republican leaders on January 30th proposed changes that include tougher border enforcement, a better system for temporary workers, more visas for high skilled workers, and a path to legalization for children, but not necessarily for half of the 11.7 million in the U.S. illegally.
A revised and updated version of Enrique's Journey was published today by Random House! The new edition truly re-works the original with an updated, compelling epilogue about the family, chapter on immigration, never before seen photos of Enrique and his family, as well as a Q & A with the author.
Friday, February 7, 2014
All aspire to liberty and security in their lives but few people truly enjoy them. This book explains why this is so. In what Conor Gearty calls our 'neo-democratic' world, the proclamation of universal liberty and security is mocked by facts on the ground: the vast inequalities in supposedly free societies, the authoritarian regimes with regular elections, and the terrible socio-economic deprivation camouflaged by cynically proclaimed commitments to human rights. Gearty's book offers an explanation of how this has come about, providing also a criticism of the present age which tolerates it. He then goes on to set out a manifesto for a better future, a place where liberty and security can be rich platforms for everyone's life. The book identifies neo-democracies as those places which play at democracy so as to disguise the injustice at their core. But it is not just the new 'democracies' that have turned 'neo', the so-called established democracies are also hurtling in the same direction, as is the United Nations. A new vision of universal freedom is urgently required. Drawing on scholarship in law, human rights and political science this book argues for just such a vision, one in which the great achievements of our democratic past are not jettisoned as easily as were the socialist ideals of the original democracy-makers.
Click here for a review of the book by David Cole.
Alvaro Huerta appeared on the "Tavis Smiley" show (PBS) this week. An interdisciplinary scholar, Huerta is the author of Reframing the Latino Immigration Debate. Huerta is a visiting scholar at UCLA's Chicano Studies Research Center. He holds a Ph.D. in city and regional planning from UC Berkeley, where his dissertation focused on Mexican immigrants and their social networks in Los Angeles's informal economy.
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
“A brilliant and innovative take on an issue close to the hearts and minds of families who have one foot planted firmly on both sides of the border. It is a deportation story in reverse: a bold re-envisioning with unexpected consequences, mystery, and insight.”—Tim Z. Hernandez, author of Mañana Means Heaven
After Wopper Barraza’s fourth drunk driving violation, the judge orders his immediate deportation. “But I haven’t been there since I was a little kid,” says Wopper, whose parents brought him to California when he was three years old. Now he has to move back to Michoacán. When he learns that his longtime girlfriend is pregnant, the future looks even more uncertain. Wopper's story unfolds as life in a rural village takes him in new and unexpected directions. This immigrant saga in reverse is a story of young people who must live with the reality of their parents’ dream. We know this story from the headlines, but up to now it has been unexplored literary territory.
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
From the Bookshelves: Living in Infamy: Felon Disfranchisement and the History of American Citizenship by Pippa Holloway
Felon Disfranchisement and the History of American Citizenship examines the history of disfranchisement for criminal conviction in the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the post-war South, white southern Democrats expanded the usage of laws disfranchising for crimes of infamy in order to deny African Americans the suffrage rights due them as citizens, employing historical similarities between the legal statuses of slaves and convicts as justification. At the same time, our nation's criminal code changed. The inhumane treatment of prisoners, the expansion of the prison system, the public nature of punishment by forced labor, and the abandonment of the idea of reform and rehabilitation of prisoners all contributed to a national consensus that certain categories of criminals should be permanently disfranchised.
As racial barriers to suffrage were challenged and fell, rights remained restricted for persons targeted by such infamy laws. Criminal convictions-in place of race-continued the disparity in legal status between whites and African Americans. Decades later, after race-based disfranchisement has officially ended, legislation steeped in a legacy of racial discrimination continues to perpetuate a dichotomy of suffrage and citizenship that is still effecting our election outcomes today.
Friday, January 31, 2014
From the Bookshelves: Sacrificing Families Navigating Laws, Labor, and Love Across Borders by Leisy J. Abrego
Sacrificing Families Navigating Laws, Labor, and Love Across Borders by Leisy J. Abrego 2014, Available Now
Widening global inequalities make it difficult for parents in developing nations to provide for their children, and both mothers and fathers often find that migration in search of higher wages is their only hope. Their dreams are straightforward: with more money, they can improve their children's lives. But the reality of their experiences is often harsh, and structural barriers—particularly those rooted in immigration policies and gender inequities—prevent many from reaching their economic goals.
Sacrificing Families offers a first-hand look at Salvadoran transnational families, how the parents fare in the United States, and the experiences of the children back home. It captures the tragedy of these families' daily living arrangements, but also delves deeper to expose the structural context that creates and sustains patterns of inequality in their well-being. What prevents these parents from migrating with their children? What are these families' experiences with long-term separation? And why do some ultimately fare better than others? As free trade agreements expand and nation-states open doors widely for products and profits while closing them tightly for refugees and migrants, these transnational families are not only becoming more common, but they are living through lengthier separations.
Leisy Abrego gives voice to these immigrants and their families and documents the inequalities across their experiences.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
The United States is still typically conceived of as an offshoot of England, with our history unfolding east to west beginning with the first English settlers in Jamestown. This view overlooks the significance of America’s Hispanic past. With the profile of the United States increasingly Hispanic, the importance of recovering the Hispanic dimension to our national story has never been greater. This absorbing narrative begins with the explorers and conquistadores who planted Spain’s first colonies in Puerto Rico, Florida, and the Southwest. Missionaries and rancheros carry Spain’s expansive impulse into the late eighteenth century, settling California, mapping the American interior to the Rockies, and charting the Pacific coast. During the nineteenth century Anglo-America expands west under the banner of “Manifest Destiny” and consolidates control through war with Mexico. In the Hispanic resurgence that follows, it is the peoples of Latin America who overspread the continent, from the Hispanic heartland in the West to major cities such as Chicago, Miami, New York, and Boston. The United States clearly has a Hispanic present and future. And here is its Hispanic past, presented with characteristic insight and wit by one of our greatest historians.
Click here for a review of Our America in the Economist.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Martin Luther King may not have had a vote in Congress, but he and the movement he helped lead were integral to getting the civil rights bill introduced. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of that bill, now known as the Civil Rights Act. Among other things, the act outlawed discrimination in public accommodations — including restaurants, hotels and motels — ending the era of legal segregation in those places.
Todd Purdum is the author of the forthcoming book An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Two Presidents, Two Parties and the Battle for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Purdum is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and a senior writer at Politico. He joins Fresh Air's Terry Gross on NPR to talk about the legislative and political battle to get the civil rights bill passed. Click the audio link to listen to the interview.
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
From the Bookshelves: Reproducing Racism: How Everyday Choices Lock In White Advantage by Daria Roithmayr
Reproducing Racism: How Everyday Choices Lock In White Advantage by Daria Roithmayr 205 pages January, 2014
This book is designed to change the way we think about racial inequality. Long after the passage of civil rights laws and now the inauguration of our first black president, blacks and Latinos possess barely a nickel of wealth for every dollar that whites have. Why have we made so little progress? Legal scholar Daria Roithmayr provocatively argues that racial inequality lives on because white advantage functions as a powerful self-reinforcing monopoly, reproducing itself automatically from generation to generation even in the absence of intentional discrimination. Drawing on work in antitrust law and a range of other disciplines, Roithmayr brilliantly compares the dynamics of white advantage to the unfair tactics of giants like AT&T and Microsoft. With penetrating insight, Roithmayr locates the engine of white monopoly in positive feedback loops that connect the dramatic disparity of Jim Crow to modern racial gaps in jobs, housing and education. Wealthy white neighborhoods fund public schools that then turn out wealthy white neighbors. Whites with lucrative jobs informally refer their friends, who refer their friends, and so on. Roithmayr concludes that racial inequality might now be locked in place, unless policymakers immediately take drastic steps to dismantle this oppressive system.
Monday, January 13, 2014
Before Robert M. Gates received a call from the White House in 2006, he thought he’d left Washington politics behind: after working for six presidents in both the CIA and the National Security Council, he was happy in his role as president of Texas A&M University. But when he was asked to help a nation mired in two wars and to aid the troops doing the fighting, he answered what he felt was the call of duty.
Now, in this unsparing memoir, meticulously fair in its assessments, he takes us behind the scenes of his nearly five years as a secretary at war: the battles with Congress, the two presidents he served, the military itself, and the vast Pentagon bureaucracy; his efforts to help Bush turn the tide in Iraq; his role as a guiding, and often dissenting, voice for Obama; the ardent devotion to and love for American soldiers—his “heroes”—he developed on the job.
In relating his personal journey as secretary, Gates draws us into the innermost sanctums of government and military power during the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, illuminating iconic figures, vital negotiations, and critical situations in revealing, intimate detail. Offering unvarnished appraisals of Dick Cheney, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Presidents Bush and Obama among other key players, Gates exposes the full spectrum of behind-closed-doors politicking within both the Bush and Obama administrations. He discusses the great controversies of his tenure—surges in both Iraq and Afghanistan, how to deal with Iran and Syria, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” Guantánamo Bay, WikiLeaks—as they played out behind the television cameras. He brings to life the Situation Room during the Bin Laden raid. And, searingly, he shows how congressional debate and action or inaction on everything from equipment budgeting to troop withdrawals was often motivated, to his increasing despair and anger, more by party politics and media impact than by members’ desires to protect our soldiers and ensure their success.
However embroiled he became in the trials of Washington, Gates makes clear that his heart was always in the most important theater of his tenure as secretary: the front lines. We journey with him to both war zones as he meets with active-duty troops and their commanders, awed by their courage, and also witness him greet coffin after flag-draped coffin returned to U.S. soil, heartbreakingly aware that he signed every deployment order.
In frank and poignant vignettes, Gates conveys the human cost of war, and his admiration for those brave enough to undertake it when necessary. Duty tells a powerful and deeply personal story that allows us an unprecedented look at two administrations and the wars that have defined them.
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
From the Bookshelves: Lives in the Balance: Asylum Adjudication by the Department of Homeland Security Andrew I. Schoenholtz, Philip G. Schrag and Jaya Ramji-Nogales
Although Americans generally think that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is focused only on preventing terrorism, one office within that agency has a humanitarian mission. Its Asylum Office adjudicates applications from people fleeing persecution in their homelands. Lives in the Balance is a careful empirical analysis of how Homeland Security decided these asylum cases over a recent fourteen-year period. Day in and day out, asylum officers make decisions with life-or-death consequences: determining which applicants are telling the truth and are at risk of persecution in their home countries, and which are ineligible for refugee status in America.
In Lives in the Balance, the authors analyze a database of 383,000 cases provided to them by the government in order to better understand the effect on grant rates of a host of factors unrelated to the merits of asylum claims, including the one-year filing deadline, whether applicants entered the United States with a visa, whether applicants had dependents, whether they were represented, how many asylum cases their adjudicator had previously decided, and whether or not their adjudicator was a lawyer. The authors also examine the degree to which decisions were consistent among the eight regional asylum offices and within each of those offices. The authors’ recommendations, including repeal of the one-year deadline, would improve the adjudication process by reducing the impact of non-merits factors on asylum decisions. If adopted by the government, these proposals would improve the accuracy of outcomes for those whose lives hang in the balance.
On February 6: Georgetown University Law Center will be hosting a combination presentation of the data and book party at 5 P.M. that afternoon. Professor Karen Musalo (UC Hastings) will be commenting. If you would like to have an invitation, please contact Phil Schrag at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, January 5, 2014
Let the People Go: The Problem With Strict Migration Limits by Michael Clemens and Justin Sandefur reviews Exodus: How Migration Is Changing Our World. By Paul Collier (Oxford University Press, 2013). They write:
"Paul Collier . . . has just published an extended apologia for . . . tight strictures on immigration . . . , arguing for a global system of coercive quotas on people moving from poorer countries to richer ones. Such quotas, he writes in Exodus, would serve the “enlightened self-interest” of immigrants’ host countries and constitute an act of “compassion” for immigrants and their countries of origin. Collier argues that at a certain point, immigration begins to harm both host and origin countries, that many countries are near or past that point, and that even in countries that have so far remained unharmed, “preventative policies are greatly superior to reactive ones.”
It is refreshing to see the grand case against immigration served up by someone of Collier’s intelligence and credentials. But although Collier styles his book as a balanced review of the research literature, it is in fact a one-sided polemic that stands mostly outside academic research -- by Collier or anyone else." (emphasis added).
A 1975 state-wide law in Texas made it legal for school districts to bar students from public schools if they were in the country illegally, thus making it extremely difficult or even possible for scores of children to receive an education. The resulting landmark Supreme Court case, Plyler v. Doe (1982), established the constitutional right of children to attend public elementary and secondary schools regardless of legal status and changed how the nation approached the conversation about immigration outside the law.
Today, as the United States takes steps towards immigration policy reform, Americans are subjected to polarized debates on what the country should do with its "illegal" or "undocumented" population. In Immigration Outside the Law, acclaimed immigration law expert Hiroshi Motomura takes a neutral, legally-accurate approach in his attention and responses to the questions surrounding those whom he calls "unauthorized migrants." In a reasoned and careful discussion, he seeks to explain why unlawful immigration is such a contentious debate in the United States and to offer suggestions for what should be done about it. He looks at ways in which unauthorized immigrants are becoming part of American society and why it is critical to pave the way for this integration.
In the final section of the book, Motomura focuses on practical and politically viable solutions to the problem in three public policy areas: international economic development, domestic economic policy, and educational policy. Amidst the extreme opinions voiced daily in the media, Motomura explains the complicated topic of immigration outside the law in an understandable and refreshingly objective way for students and scholars studying immigration law, policy-makers looking for informed opinions, and any American developing an opinion on this contentious issue.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
From the Bookshelves: Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Assessing the Evidence edited by Frank Laczko and Christine Aghazarm
Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Assessing the Evidence edited by Frank Laczko and Christine Aghazarm
Gradual and sudden environmental changes are resulting in substantial human movement and displacement, and the scale of such flows, both internal and cross-border, is expected to rise with unprecedented impacts on lives and livelihoods. Despite the potential challenge, there has been a lack of strategic thinking about this policy area partly due to a lack of data and empirical research on this topic. Adequately planning for and managing environmentallyinduced migration will be critical for human security. The papers in this volume were first presented at the Research Workshop on Migration and the Environment: Developing a Global Research Agenda held in Munich, Germany in April 2008. One of the key objectives on the Munich workshop was to address the need for more sound empirical research and identify priority areas of research for policy makers in the field of migration and the environment.
Monday, December 9, 2013
The first book-length examination of immigrant admissions from a feminist philosophical perspective. Higgins argues that a different set of immigration policies will be just for each country and concludes with concrete recommendations for policymaking.
What moral standards ought nation-states abide by when selecting immigration policies? Peter Higgins argues that immigration policies can only be judged by considering the inequalities that are produced by the institutions - such as gender, race and class - that constitute our social world. Higgins challenges conventional positions on immigration justice, including the view that states have a right to choose whatever immigration policies they like, or that all immigration restrictions ought to be eliminated and borders opened. Rather than suggesting one absolute solution, he argues that a unique set of immigration policies will be just for each country. He concludes with concrete recommendations for policymaking.
Peter Higgins is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Department Member in Women's and Gender Studies at the Eastern Michigan University.
Sunday, December 8, 2013
It has been a year since a plane crash killed singer Jenni Rivera, the Mexican-American singer and reality television star known as “the Diva of Banda,” and six others. New details have emerged about what might have caused the plane to crash in a mountainous area of northern Mexico. Here is the latest on the investigation.
Drawing on contemporary conflicts between Latino/as and anti-immigrant forces, Citizenship Excess illustrates the limitations of liberalism as expressed through U.S. media channels. Inspired by Latin American critical scholarship on the “coloniality of power,” Amaya demonstrates that nativists use the privileges associated with citizenship to accumulate power. That power is deployed to aggressively shape politics, culture, and the law, effectively undermining Latino/as who are marked by the ethno-racial and linguistic difference that nativists love to hate. Yet these social characteristics present crucial challenges to the political, legal, and cultural practices that define citizenship.
Amaya examines the role of ethnicity and language in shaping the mediated public sphere through cases ranging from the participation of Latino/as in the Iraqi war and pro-immigration reform marches to labor laws restricting Latino/a participation in English-language media and news coverage of undocumented immigrant detention centers. Citizenship Excess demonstrates that the evolution of the idea of citizenship in the United States and the political and cultural practices that define it are intricately intertwined with nativism.