Friday, January 30, 2015
From the Bookshelves: The Legitimacy of The European Union through Legal Rationality: Free Movement of Third Country Nationals by Richard Ball
Third country nationals (TCNs) play an important part in the economy of the European Union, reflected in the rights granted to them under European Union Law. Political expediency is however shaped by world, regional and domestic influences that in turn determine policy towards third country nationals and their legal rights to freedom of movement. This book examines the concept of political legitimacy within the European Union through the principles of legal rationality, focusing in particular on the European Union’s policy towards third country nationals. Richard Ball argues that for legal doctrine to be rational it must display the requirements of formal, instrumental and substantive rationality, each mutually exclusive and essential. In taking this position of legal rationality, the book focuses on free movement rights of TCNs within EU treaties and implementing legislation, the Area of Freedom Security and Justice, and Association Agreements. Ball concludes that the stance of European Union Law towards third country nationals lacks legitimacy, and suggests possible new directions that EU policy should take in the future.
Monday, January 26, 2015
From the Bookshelves: William Frey, Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics are Remaking America.
At its optimistic best, America has embraced its identity as the world’s melting pot. Today it is on the cusp of becoming a country with no racial majority, and new minorities are poised to exert a profound impact on U.S. society, economy, and politics.
Through a compelling narrative and eye-catching charts and maps, eminent demographer William H. Frey interprets and expounds on the dramatic growth of minority populations in the United States. He finds that without these expanding groups, America could face a bleak future: this new generation of young minorities, who are having children at a faster rate than whites, is infusing our aging labor force with vitality and innovation.
Diversity Explosion shares the good news about diversity in the coming decades, and the more globalized, multiracial country that U.S. is becoming.
In this podcast about the book, Frey explains what he means by "diversity explosion"; why growing minority populations are so important for America; and what public officials, community leaders, and decision-makers need to understand about the importance of educating and training a new generation of workers.
William H. Frey, senior fellow in the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, is an internationally regarded demographer, known for his research on urban populations, migration, immigration, race, aging, political demographics and his expertise on the U.S. Census. He was the first to predict that 2011 would be the first year in which more minority babies than white were born.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
From the Bookshelves: Revoking Citizenship: Expatriation in America from the Colonial Era to the War on Terror by Ben Herzog
Expatriation, or the stripping away citizenship and all the rights that come with it, is usually associated with despotic and totalitarian regimes. The imagery of mass expulsion of once integral members of the community is associated with civil wars, ethnic cleansing, the Holocaust, or other oppressive historical events. Yet these practices are not just a product of undemocratic events or extreme situations, but are standard clauses within the legal systems of most democratic states, including the United States. Witness, for example, Yaser Esam Hamdi, captured in Afghanistan in November 2001, sent to Guantánamo, transferred to a naval brig in South Carolina when it was revealed that he was a U.S. citizen, and held there without trial until 2004, when the Justice Department released Hamdi to Saudi Arabia without charge on the condition that he renounce his U.S. citizenship.
Hamdi’s story may be the best known expatriation story in recent memory, but in Revoking Citizenship, Ben Herzog reveals America’s long history of making both naturalized immigrants and native-born citizens un-American after their citizenship was stripped away. Tracing this history from the early republic through the Cold War, Herzog locates the sociological, political, legal, and historic meanings of revoking citizenship. Why, when, and with what justification do states take away citizenship from their subjects? Should loyalty be judged according to birthplace or actions? Using the history and policies of revoking citizenship as a lens, Revoking Citizenship examines, describes, and analyzes the complex relationships between citizenship, immigration, and national identity.
Thursday, January 15, 2015
Mea Culpa Lessons on Law and Regret from U.S. History (2015 NYU Press) by Steven W. Bender
In Mea Culpa, Steven W. Bender examines how the United States’ collective shame about its past has shaped the evolution of law and behavior. We regret slavery and segregationist Jim Crow laws. We eventually apologize, while ignoring other oppressions, and our legal response to regret often fails to be transformative for the affected groups. By examining policies and practices that have affected the lives of groups that have been historically marginalized and oppressed, Bender is able to draw persuasive connections between shame and its eventual legal manifestations. Analyzing the United States’ historical response to its own atrocities, Bender identifies and develops a definitive moral compass that guides us away from the policies and practices that lead to societal regret.
Mea Culpa challenges its readers. In a different era, might we have been slave owners or proprietors of a racially segregated establishment? It’s easy to judge immorality in the hindsight of history, but what current practices and policies will later generations regret?
More than a historical survey, this volume offers a framework for resolving some of the most contentious social problems of our time. Drawing on his background as a legal scholar, Bender tackles immigration, the death penalty, the war on terror, reproductive rights, welfare, wage inequity, homelessness, mass incarceration, and same-sex marriage. Ultimately, he argues, it is the dehumanization of human beings that allows for practices to occur that will later be marked as regrettable. And all of us have a stake in standing on the side of history that resists dehumanization.
Cjapter 3 (Aliens, Illegals, Wetbacks, and Anchor Babies: The Dehumanization of Immigrant Workers and Their Families) offers a capsule summary of how immigrants, especially those from Mexico, have been dehumanized and harshly treated in the name of immigration enforcement throughout U.S. history.
Friday, January 9, 2015
From the Bookshelves: Latino Stats: American Hispanics by the Numbers by Idelisse Malavé and Esti Giordani
Latino Stats: American Hispanics by the Numbersby Idelisse Malavé and Esti Giordani (2015)
At a time when politics is seemingly ruled by ideology and emotion and when immigration is one of the most contentious topics, it is more important than ever to cut through the rhetoric and highlight, in numbers, the reality of the broad spectrum of Latino life in the United States. Latinos are both the largest and fastest-growing racial/ethnic group in the country, even while many continue to fight for their status as Americans. Respected movement builder and former leader of the Tides Foundation Idelisse Malavé and her daughter, Celeste Giordani—a communications strategist for the Social Transformation Project—distills the profusion of data, identifying the most telling and engaging facts to assemble a portrait of contemporary Latino life with glimpses of the past and future.
From politics and the economy to popular culture, the arts, and ideas about race, gender, and family, Latino Stats both catalogs the inequities that plague Latino communities and documents Latinos’ growing power and influence on American life. An essential tool for advocates, educators, and policy makers, Latino Stats will be a go-to guidebook for anyone wanting to raise their awareness and increase their understanding of the complex state of our nation.
As a NPR story described, "[w]hen Michele Serros burst onto the literary scene in the 1990s, she was a new kind of Latina writer: She didn't speak much Spanish, she listened to ABBA and she was a vegan who liked to surf and skateboard. Her success as a writer, poet and comedic commentator made her an inspirational voice for Chicanas of her generation and beyond."
Serros, who Newsweek once hailed as a "Woman to Watch for the New Century," died of cancer Sunday at her home in Berkeley, Calif. She was 48 years old. Serros' book How to be a Latina Role Model offers an incredibly funny tale of a Chicana writer who tries to find a way to embrace two very different cultures--without losing touch with who she is.
Thursday, January 8, 2015
From the Bookshelves: American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone by Senator Marco Rubio
Senator Marco Rubio has a new book that, although it will not be released until next week, is making news. American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone takes on immigration. According to the New York Daily News,
"Looking to connect with the conservative base of his Republican Party, Sen. Marco Rubio says he is sympathetic to Americans who `feel as if we are being taken advantage of'' by immigrants in the United States illegally. The rhetoric in Rubio's new book comes as the Florida lawmaker lays the groundwork for a potential presidential campaign in 2016. Rubio, a first-term lawmaker whose parents came to the United States from Cuba, previously wrote and championed a comprehensive overhaul of the nation's immigration system that passed the Senate. It later imploded in the House and badly hurt his standing among conservative activists who have tremendous sway in picking the party nominee. Rubio now says he favors a one-piece-at-a-time approach supported by some conservatives. Detailing a strategy he first outlined last year, he suggests in the book that Congress begin with securing the border, then move on to workplace enforcement and the visa system before dealing with those already in the country illegally." (emphasis added).
The Amazon.com page for Rubio's new book includes the following:
My parents came to the United States in 1956. The country they found was truly a land of opportunity, where hardworking people with grade school educations could afford a home, a car, and college for their kids. A country where maids and bartenders could raise doctors, lawyers, small-business owners, and maybe even a U.S. senator.
That was the American Dream—our country’s central promise to its people: If you work hard and play by the rules, you’ll find tremendous opportunities and an even better life for your children.
Yet today, I look around and see the American Dream on life support. Seven years of government-centered, tax-and-spend liberalism have failed to lift the poor or sustain the middle class. Fewer Americans are working than at any time since Jimmy Carter was president. New business creation is 30 percent lower than it was in the 1980s. The stock market may be surging by the time you read this, but millions of everyday Americans will still be left behind by an economy that doesn’t value their skills and a government that would rather give a handout than a hand up.
I wrote this book because we stand at a critical juncture. What kind of country are we going to be? Will we surrender to Obamacare and other laws that crush innovation and entrepreneurship? Will we accept a powerful nanny state and the erosion of family values? Will we allow politics to kill the American Dream?
Or will we rise to the challenge—and take back our legacy as the only nation on earth that offers unrestricted opportunity to all?
I believe we can restore the American Dream and expand it to reach more people than ever before. But to do so we must restrain our power-hungry, debt-ridden federal government. We must help businesses create more stable middle-class jobs. And we must help our families stay healthy and secure.
In this book you’ll meet an over-regulated small-businessman, a struggling single mother, an out-of-work and in-debt college graduate, and others who want nothing more than their own shot at the American Dream. Their stories are our stories; their challenges are our challenges.
Of course no book or politician can single-handedly restore the American Dream. But a movement, working to promote the values and can-do spirit that made our country exceptional, can turn everything around.
My goal is to provide a roadmap for that movement and inspire Americans to reclaim their rights: to dream, to work, to build a better life for their children.
I hope you will join me as we build that movement and restore the land of opportunity.
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Photo by Jim Block
Michel Thomas was an extraordinary man. Born in Poland in 1914, Thomas left the country as a young man, studying in Germany and France in an effort to escape antisemitism. During WW2, he served in the French Resistance and ended up spending two years in French concentration camps. After the war, Thomas moved to the United States where he spent a lifetime teaching Hollywood stars to master foreign languages.
While Thomas passed away in 2005, his method for language learning lives on in audiotapes.
I was introduced to the Michel Thomas method by my colleague Lindsay Robertson. Lindsay knew that I was trying to brush up on my Spanish before heading to the immigration detention facility in Artesia, NM. In a past life, my Spanish was excellent. I studied through college - taking advanced literature courses and studying abroad. But it had been over a decade since I tried to use my skills.
I did many things to bring my Spanish back up to speed - and will post about them all, eventually. But without a doubt the most surprisingly effective tool was the Total Spanish series by Michel Thomas.
The Thomas CDs are different from anything I've ever listened to before. You listen as he teaches two students how to speak Spanish. In effect, you are the third student in the room. It's extra fun because one of the students isn't very good and so you won't feel like the dunce in the room as you practice.
Thomas emphasizes practical communication skills - pointing out the thousands of words that are largely the same in English and Spanish. As a result, you end up with a much more sophisticated vocabulary that you would if you tried to learn words one at a time.
These langauge CDs are a truly effective tool, whether you are looking to learn Spanish for the first time or looking to brush up on skills you already have. I'd actually recommend that clinics around the country invest in a copy for their students to borrow. (OU has a set available for students in our International Human Rights Clinic.)
Finally, I should also note that Michel Thomas was a polyglot. His language CDs are not just available in Spanish but a multitude of other languages.
Saturday, January 3, 2015
Photo via NPR
But as it's the new year and some readers might not be at the AALS conference in DC (maybe you're home in the company of a virus in Norman, OK for example) - you might just be looking for a good book to read. And one of the best books I read all year was The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao. Sure, it's from 2008. But you may have missed it. And it truly is a wonder.
But maybe you don't have time for a novel. A novel is a commitment after all. And once you pick of The Brief Wonderous Life, you won't be able to stop until you've devoured it whole.
So for a taste of the power of Díaz' writing, I offer you something shorter: his essay for Conde Naste Traveller on Fukuoka, Japan's Next Great Food City. Seriously. It's amazing.
And here's the musical accompanyment to that article:
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
The University of Washington Press has just released a second edition of Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940, edited by the late Him Mark Lai, Genny Lim, and Judy Yung.
From the press release:
From 1910 to 1940, most Chinese immigrants coming to the United States were detained at the Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco Bay. There, they were subject to physical exams, interrogations, and long detentions aimed at upholding the exclusion laws that kept Chinese out of the country. Many detainees recorded their anger and frustrations, hopes and despair in poetry written and carved on the barrack walls.
Island tells these immigrants’ stories while underscoring their relevance to contemporary immigration issues. First published in 1980, Island has been updated and expanded to include a new historical introduction, 150 poems in Chinese and English translation (including from Ellis Island and Victoria, B.C.), extensive profiles of immigrants gleaned through oral histories, and dozens of new photographs from public archives and family albums.
An important historical document as well as a significant work of literature, Island is a testament to the hardships Chinese immigrants endured on Angel Island, their perseverance, and their determination to make a new life in America.
A great book to run out an get for the immprof in your life still needing a holiday gift.
Monday, December 15, 2014
From the Bookshelves: A Conservative and Compassionate Approach to Immigration Reform: Perspectives from a Former US Attorney General by Alberto R. Gonzales and David N. Strange
Although the United States is a nation founded by immigrants, Alberto Gonzales and David Strange believe that national immigration policy and enforcement over the past thirty years has been inadequate. This failure by federal leaders has resulted in a widespread introduction of state immigration laws across the country. Gonzales and Strange assert that the solution to current immigration challenges is reform of federal immigration laws, including common sense border control, tougher workplace enforcement, changes to the Immigration and Nationality Act, and a revised visa process.
Gonzales and Strange embrace many provisions of current pending legislation, but are sharply critical of others. Their proposals call for an expansion of the grounds of inadmissibility to foster greater respect of law and to address the problem of visa overstays, while also calling for a restriction on grounds of inadmissibility in other areas to address the large undocumented population and increasing humanitarian crisis. They explore nationality versus citizenship and introduce a pathway to nationality as an alternative to a pathway to citizenship.
This immigration policy blueprint examines the political landscape in Washington and makes the argument that progress will require compromise and the discipline to act with compassion and respect.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
Three Decades of Engendering History collects ten of Antonia I. Castañeda's best articles, including the widely circulated article "Engendering the History of Alta California, 1769-1848," in which Castañeda took a direct and honest look at sex and gender relations in colonial California, exposing stories of violence against women as well as stories of survival and resistance. Other articles included are the prize-winning "Women of Color and the Rewriting of Western History," and two recent articles, "Lullabies y Canciones de Cuna" and "La Despedida." The latter two represent Castañeda’s most recent work excavating, mapping, and bringing forth the long and strong post-WWII history of Tejanas. Finally, the volume includes three interviews with Antonia Castañeda that contribute the important narrative of her lived experience—the "theory in the flesh" and politics of necessity that fueled her commitment to transformative scholarship that highlights gender and Chicanas as a legitimate line of inquiry.
Friday, December 5, 2014
From the Bookshelves: A Race So Different: Performance and Law in Asian America by Joshua Takano Chambers-Letson
A Race So Different: Performance and Law in Asian America by Joshua Takano Chambers-Letson
Winner of the 2014 Outstanding Book Award presented by the Association for Theatre in Higher Education
Taking a performance studies approach to understanding Asian American racial subjectivity, Joshua Takano Chambers-Letson argues that the law influences racial formation by compelling Asian Americans to embody and perform recognizable identities in both popular aesthetic forms (such as theater, opera, or rock music) and in the rituals of everyday life. Tracing the production of Asian American selfhood from the era of Asian Exclusion through the Global War on Terror, A Race So Different explores the legal paradox whereby U.S. law apprehends the Asian American body as simultaneously excluded from and included within the national body politic. Bringing together broadly defined forms of performance, from artistic works such as Madame Butterfly to the Supreme Court’s oral arguments in the Cambodian American deportation cases of the twenty-first century, this book invites conversation about how Asian American performance uses the stage to document, interrogate, and complicate the processes of racialization in U.S. law. Through his impressive use of a rich legal and cultural archive, Chambers-Letson articulates a robust understanding of the construction of social and racial realities in the contemporary United States.
Author Joshua Takano Chambers-Letson is Assistant Professor in the Department of Performance Studies in the School of Communications of Northwestern University.
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
From the Bookshelves: Adjudicating Refugee and Asylum Status The Role of Witness, Expertise, and Testimony Editors: Benjamin N. Lawrance and Galya Ruffer
Adjudicating Refugee and Asylum Status The Role of Witness, Expertise, and Testimony Editors: Benjamin N. Lawrance, Rochester Institute of Technology, New York Galya Ruffer, Northwestern University, Illinois
In this book, an array of legal, biomedical, psychosocial, and social science scholars and practitioners offer the first comparative account of the increasing dependence on expertise in the asylum and refugee status determination process. This volume presents a comprehensive study of the relevance of experts, as mediators of culture, who are called upon to corroborate, substantiate credibility, and serve as translators in the face of confusing legal standards that require proof of new forms and reasons for persecution around the globe. The authors draw upon their interactions with expertise and the immigration process to provide insights into the evidentiary burdens on asylum seekers and the expanding role of expertise in the forms of country-conditions reports, biomedical and psychiatric evaluations, and the emerging field of forensic linguistic analysis in response to emerging forms of persecution, such as gender-based or sexuality-based persecution. This book is essential reading for both scholars interested in the production of knowledge and clinicians considering the role of experts as mediators of asylum claims.
Features anecdotal narratives of real cases that make the book particularly useful for clinical instruction/adoption
This is a guidebook by way of specific personal narratives of best practices in asylum and refugee status
Establishes expert testimony as a site of critical study for the humanities and social sciences
Thursday, November 27, 2014
If you're looking for a special book to enjoy with your little readers this holiday, look no further than The Thanksgiving Door by Debby Atwell.
This picture book begins with an older couple (Anna and Ed) alone on Thanksgiving. They accidentially burn their holiday meal and so end up looking for a place to eat out.
They find a restaurant with an open door but noone there. It turns out the family of restauranteurs - apparently new immigrants - are in the kitchen, hiding. They had planned to be closed that day so they could have their own party. But the grandmother of the family insists the couple should be allowed to stay.
"And that's how Ann and Ed found themselves guests of honor as this family celebrated their first Thanksgiving in the New World Cafe."
What comes next is a Thanksgiving celebration that blends American traditions with "old country" touches. There is food and dancing. And lifelong friendships are made. Leaving Anna and Ed thankful for their burned dinner!
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
From the Bookshelves: Rethinking the Attractiveness of EU Labour Immigration Policies: Comparative perspectives on the EU, the US, Canada and beyond by Sergio Carrera, Elspeth Guild, Katharina Eisele
Rethinking the Attractiveness of EU Labour Immigration Policies: Comparative perspectives on the EU, the US, Canada and beyond by Sergio Carrera, Elspeth Guild, Katharina Eisele
Is Europe's immigration policy attractive? One of the priorities driving current EU debates on labour immigration policies is the perceived need to boost Europe's attractiveness vis-á-vis 'talented' and 'highly skilled' immigrants. The EU sees itself playing a role in persuading immigrants to choose Europe over other competing destinations, such as the US or Canada.
This book critically examines the determinants and challenges characterising discussions focused on the attractiveness of labour migration policies in the EU as well as other international settings. It calls for re-thinking some of the most commonly held premises and assumptions underlying the narratives of ‘attractiveness’ and ‘global competition for talent’ in migration policy debates. How can an immigration policy, in fact, be made to be ‘attractive’ and what are the incentives at play (if any)?
A multidisciplinary team of leading scholars and experts in migration studies address the main issues and challenges related to the role played by rights and discrimination, qualifications and skills, and matching demand and supply in needs-based migration policies. The experiences in other jurisdictions such as South America, Canada and the United States are also covered: Are these countries indeed so ‘attractive’ and ‘competitive’, and if so what makes them more attractive than the EU?
On the basis of the discussions and findings presented across the various contributions, the book identifies a number of priorities for policy formulation and design in the next generation of EU labour migration policies. In particular, it highlights important initiatives that the new European Commission should focus on in the years to come.
Sergio Carrera is Senior Research Fellow and head of the Justice and Home Affairs research unit at CEPS; Elspeth Guild is Jean Monnet Professor ad personam of European Migration Law at the Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and Queen Mary, University of London, UK. She is also an Associate Senior Research Fellow at CEPS and a partner at the London law firm Kingsley Napley. Katharina Eisele is a Researcher in the Justice and Home Affairs section of CEPS.
Monday, November 24, 2014
My very first day in immigration court as a young lawyer, an Indian man in full shackles fell to his knees and begged me to help him. I reviewed his paperwork with an analytical eye and hoped that law school had prepared me to advise him. He had a rare legal remedy available to him, and I explained to him what he needed to tell the judge (he was defending himself in pro se). The next five men I interviewed were not so fortunate and none had any defense to deportation. Chained together, they each spoke in turn to the judge—only one was not deported. I discovered the power of knowledge and that law could be arbitrary in who it assisted and who it condemned.
When Obama’s new executive order was released, one of my friends told me that when he discovered he was covered under the order, he felt as though he had beat stage four cancer. He was too old for the first round of DACA, and had felt the sting of disappointment after the first executive order. Yet now he was finally free. It was the little things like the dignity of being able to drive a woman on a date—to the larger issue of having a legal identity that made him feel an incredible release.
My mind spun in a different direction, and I began thinking of everyone who could have benefited, but who had already been deported. I thought of the wreckage of so many lives that could have been avoided. One of my clients—who had come to the USA as a toddler—told me that after he was deported, he felt like a stateless ghost untethered to his native land of Jamaica. He pined for his children every day across the Caribbean ocean. Like an uncelebrated Odysseus, he crossed the seas multiple times to reunite with his family. He never succeeded—arrested and deported again and again. He told me he would keep trying to reenter the USA until he died. In the USA were his life, his children, and everything that made life worth living.
Just as the executive order is progress, it is also a reminder of our nation’s past. A tribute to the sacrifices immigrants in our nation made to reach this breaking point. The resistance and the swelling of discontent—all brought to its boiling point. It is a time of celebration and mourning. But also a time of hope—hope that the irrepressible voices of immigrants are finally being heard. And above all Obama’s order is a dare—a dare to Congress to retract rather than advance the rights and dignity of immigrants.
Immigration Law Clinic
Monday, November 17, 2014
Here is a brief description: Danny's tall and skinny. Even though he’s not built, his arms are long enough to give his pitch a power so fierce any college scout would sign him on the spot. Ninety-five mile an hour fastball, but the boy’s not even on a team. Every time he gets up on the mound he loses it. But at his private school, they don’t expect much else from him. Danny’ s brown. Half-Mexican brown. And growing up in San Diego that close to the border means everyone else knows exactly who he is before he even opens his mouth. Before they find out he can’t speak Spanish, and before they realize his mom has blond hair and blue eyes, they’ve got him pegged. But it works the other way too. And Danny’s convinced it’s his whiteness that sent his father back to Mexico.
The New York Times has reported that "after a new state law targeting Mexican-American studies courses that are perceived as antiwhite was upheld, it became illegal to teach `Mexican WhiteBoy' in Tucson’s classrooms. State officials cited the book as containing `critical race theory,' a violation under a provision that prohibits lessons `promoting racial resentment.'”
Sunday, November 16, 2014
In writing her novels and biographies, author Kati Marton draws on her experience as a journalist. She has reported for news outlets including NPR and ABC News, where she served as an overseas bureau chief, and is the recipient of a George Foster Peabody award for a documentary on China. Her 2009 memoir, Enemies of the People: My Family’s Journey to America, was a National Book Critics Circle finalist. She also works as a human rights advocate, and, from 2003 to 2008, chaired the International Women’s Health Coalition.
One book review describes "ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE IS A TOUR DE FORCE, an important work of history as it was lived, a narrative of multiple betrayals on both sides of the Cold War that ends with triumph and a new beginning in America. In this true-life thriller Kati Marton, an award-winning journalist, exposes the cruel mechanics of the Communist Terror State using the secret police files on her parents, as well as dozens of interviews that reveal how her family was spied on and betrayed by friends, colleagues, and even their children’s babysitter. In this moving and brave memoir, Marton searches for and finds her parents and love."
Saturday, November 15, 2014
From the Bookshelves: Border Medicine A Transcultural History of Mexican American Curanderismo by Brett Hendrickson
Mexican American folk and religious healing, often referred to as curanderismo, has been a vital part of life in the Mexico-U.S. border region for centuries. A hybrid tradition made up primarily of indigenous and Iberian Catholic pharmacopeias, rituals, and notions of the self, curanderismo treats the sick person with a variety of healing modalities including herbal remedies, intercessory prayer, body massage, and energy manipulation. Curanderos, “healers,” embrace a holistic understanding of the patient, including body, soul, and community.
Border Medicine examines the ongoing evolution of Mexican American religious healing from the end of the nineteenth century to the present. Illuminating the ways in which curanderismo has had an impact not only on the health and culture of the borderlands but also far beyond, the book tracks its expansion from Mexican American communities to Anglo and multiethnic contexts. While many healers treat Mexican and Mexican American clientele, a significant number of curanderos have worked with patients from other ethnic groups as well, especially those involved in North American metaphysical religions like spiritualism, mesmerism, New Thought, New Age, and energy-based alternative medicines. Hendrickson explores this point of contact as an experience of transcultural exchange.
Drawing on historical archives, colonial-era medical texts and accounts, early ethnographies of the region, newspaper articles, memoirs, and contemporary healing guidebooks as well as interviews with contemporary healers, Border Medicine demonstrates the notable and ongoing influence of Mexican Americans on cultural and religious practices in the United States, especially in the American West.