Monday, October 31, 2016

From the Bookshelves: Citizenship, Alienage, and the Modern Constitutional State: A Gendered History by Helen Irving

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Citizenship, Alienage, and the Modern Constitutional State: A Gendered History by Helen Irving

To have a nationality is a human right. But between the nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, virtually every country in the world adopted laws that stripped citizenship from women who married foreign men. Despite the resulting hardships and even statelessness experienced by married women, it took until 1957 for the international community to condemn the practice, with the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Nationality of Married Women. Citizenship, Alienage, and the Modern Constitutional State tells the important yet neglected story of marital denaturalization from a comparative perspective. Examining denaturalization laws and their impact on women around the world, with a focus on Australia, Britain, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the United States, it advances a concept of citizenship as profoundly personal and existential. In doing so, it sheds light on both a specific chapter of legal history and the theory of citizenship in general.

Helen Irving is a Professor at the University of Sydney Faculty of Law and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, and of the Australian Academy of Law. She has published widely on constitutional law, history, citizenship, most recently with a particular focus on gender. Her 2008 book, Gender and the Constitution, was published by Cambridge University Press.


October 31, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

From the Bookshelves: The Face: A Time Code by Ruth Ozeki

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

From the Bookshelves: Colonel Lágrimas by Carlos Fonseca


Colonel Lágrimas by Carlos Fonseca

Carlos Fonseca was born in Costa Rica in 1987 and grew up in Puerto Rico before moving north to study at Stanford and Princeton, and then to England to teach at Cambridge. The story of the real-life mathematician he tells in his debut novel maps the global 20th century: from October Revolution Russia to anarchic 1920s Mexico, from the Spanish Civil War to Vietnam, all the way back to France and from there to the Caribbean islands. 


October 26, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

From the Bookshelves: The Face: Strangers on a Pier by Tash Aw


The Face: Strangers on a Pier by Tash Aw

Born in Taipei to Malaysian parents, Tash Aw grew up in Kuala Lumpur before moving to Britain. In his first memoir, the twice-Booker Prize-nominated novelist explores the culture of silence about the past, which made his parents reticent about discussing the family's history as Chinese immigrants.


October 25, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 24, 2016

From the Bookshelves: The Face: Cartography of the Void by Chris Abani

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In The Face: Cartography of the Void, acclaimed Nigerian-born author and poet Chris Abani has given us a profound and gorgeously wrought short memoir that navigates the stories written upon his own face. Beginning with his early childhood immersed in the Igbo culture of West Africa, Abani unfurls a lushly poetic, insightful, and funny narrative that investigates the roles that race, culture, and language play in fashioning our sense of self.

As Abani so lovingly puts it, he contemplates “all the people who have touched my face, slapped it, punched it, kissed it, washed it, shaved it. All of that human contact must leave some trace, some of the need and anger that motivated that touch. This face is softened by it all. Made supple by all the wonder it has beheld, all the kindness, all the generosity of life.” The Face: Cartography of the Void is a gift to be read, re-read, shared, and treasured, from an author at the height of his artistic powers.

Alternately philosophical, funny, personal, political, and poetic, the short memoirs in The Face series offer unique perspectives from some of our favorite writers.


October 24, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

From the Bookshelves: The Underground by Hamid Ismailov


The Underground by Hamid Ismailov
After Uzbek author, journalist, and poet Hamid Ismailov was forced into exile when the government declared his work subversive, he emigrated to London, where he now works at the BBC as the Head of the Central Asian Service. His stunning novel The Underground tells the story of a biracial orphan growing up in late-Soviet Moscow. 




October 22, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: How to Travel without Seeing: Dispatches from the New Latin America by Andrés Neuman


How to Travel without Seeing: Dispatches from the New Latin America by Andrés Neuman Translated from the Spanish by Jeffrey Lawrence A kaleidoscopic, fast-paced tour of Latin America from one of the Spanish-speaking world’s most outstanding writers.

Lamenting not having more time to get to know each of the nineteen countries he visits after winning the prestigious Premio Alfaguara, Andrés Neuman begins to suspect that world travel consists mostly of “not seeing.” But then he realizes that the fleeting nature of his trip provides him with a unique opportunity: touring and comparing every country of Latin America in a single stroke. Neuman writes on the move, generating a kinetic work that is at once puckish and poetic, aphoristic and brimming with curiosity. Even so-called non-places—airports, hotels, taxis—are turned into powerful symbols full of meaning. A dual Argentine-Spanish citizen, he incisively explores cultural identity and nationality, immigration and globalization, history and language, and turbulent current events. Above all, Neuman investigates the artistic lifeblood of Latin America, tackling with gusto not only literary heavyweights such as Bolaño, Vargas Llosa, Lorca, and Galeano, but also an emerging generation of authors and filmmakers whose impact is now making ripples worldwide.


October 22, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 21, 2016

From the Bookshelves: Where the Bird Sings Best by Alejandro Jodorowsky

Where the bird sings best
Where the Bird Sings Best by Alejandro Jodorowsky

The magnum opus from Alejandro Jodorowsky—director of The Holy Mountain, star of Jodorowsky’s Dune, spiritual guru behind Psychomagic and The Way of Tarot, innovator behind classic comics The Incal and Metabarons, and legend of Latin American literature.

There has never been an artist like the polymathic Chilean director, author, and mystic Alejandro Jodorowsky. For eight decades, he has blazed new trails across a dazzling variety of creative fields. While his psychedelic, visionary films have been celebrated by the likes of John Lennon, Marina Abramovic, and Kanye West, his novels—praised throughout Latin America in the same breath as those of Gabriel García Márquez—have remained largely unknown in the English-speaking world. Until now.

Where the Bird Sings Best tells the fantastic story of the Jodorowskys’ emigration from Ukraine to Chile amidst the political and cultural upheavals of the 19th and 20th centuries. Like One Hundred Years of Solitude, Jodorowsky’s book transforms family history into heroic legend: incestuous beekeepers hide their crime with a living cloak of bees, a czar fakes his own death to live as a hermit amongst the animals, a devout grandfather confides only in the ghost of a wise rabbi, a transgender ballerina with a voracious sexual appetite holds a would-be saint in thrall. Kaleidoscopic, exhilarating, and erotic, Where the Bird Sings Best expands the classic immigration story to mythic proportions.


October 21, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 17, 2016

From the Bookshelves: Cast Away: True Stories of Survival from Europe’s Refugee Crisis by Charlotte McDonald-Gibson


Cast Away: True Stories of Survival from Europe’s Refugee Crisis by Charlotte McDonald-Gibson

In 2015, more than one million migrants and refugees, most fleeing war-torn countries in Africa and the Middle East, attempted to make the perilous journey into Europe. Around three thousand lost their lives as they crossed the Mediterranean and Aegean in rickety boats provided by unscrupulous traffickers, including over seven hundred men, women, and children in a single day in April 2015.

In one of the first works of narrative nonfiction on the ongoing refugee crisis and the civil war in Syria, Cast Away describes the agonizing stories and the impossible decisions that migrants have to make as they head toward what they believe is a better life: a pregnant Eritrean woman, four days overdue, chooses to board an obviously unsafe smuggler’s ship to Greece; a father, swimming from a sinking ship, has to decide whether to hold on to one child or let him go to save another.

Veteran journalist Charlotte McDonald-Gibson offers a vivid glimpse of the pressures and hopes that drive individuals to risk their lives. Recalling the work of Katherine Boo and Caroline Moorehead, Cast Away brings to life the human consequences of one of the most urgent humanitarian issues of our time.


October 17, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 14, 2016

From the Bookshelves: Childhood and Migration in Central and North America: Causes, Policies, Practices and Challenges by Karen Musalo, Lisa Frydman, Pablo Ceriani Cernadas


Karen Musalo

Childhood and Migration in Central Ameria and North America: Causes, Policies, Practices and Challenges by Karen Musalo (University of California Hastings College of the Law), Lisa Frydman (University of California Hastings College of the Law - Center for Gender & Refugee Studies), Pablo Ceriani Cernadas (National University of Lanús - Justice and Human Rights Center) 2015 Musalo, K., Frydman, L., and Cerandas, P. C. (Eds.), Childhood and Migration in Central and North America: Causes, Policies, Practices and Challenges, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS), February 2015 UC Hastings Research Paper No.211

Abstract:      Human Rights, Children, and Migration results from a two-year, multi-partner, multi-national and regional investigation into the treatment of Honduran, Salvadoran, Guatemalan, Mexican, and United States citizen and permanent resident children affected by migration. The book illuminates the overall gaps in protection and in guaranteeing rights for children and adolescents affected by migration. It examines the root causes of children and family migration in the region and its recent spike, and explores whether conditions and policies in children’s countries of origin, transit countries, and destination countries in the region protect their best interests and ensure their rights.

It also assesses whether host or destination countries effectively integrate children and adolescents affected by migration, and whether existing programs ensure—on a case-by-case basis—safe and sustainable reintegration of repatriated children and adolescents. Interviews with children and adolescents, parents, and key social and political actors in the five countries studied, combined with the experience of experts working with migrant children and adolescents on a range of issues, form the basis of the book’s findings and recommendations.


October 14, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

From the Bookshelves: EU Asylum Procedures and the Right to an Effective Remedy by Marcelle Reneman


EU Asylum Procedures and the Right to an Effective Remedy by  Marcelle Reneman (now in paperback)

Adequate and fair asylum procedures are a precondition for the effective exercise of rights granted to asylum applicants, in particular the prohibition of refoulement. In 1999 the EU Member States decided to work towards a Common European Asylum System. In this context the Procedures Directive was adopted in 2005 and recast in 2013. This directive provides for important procedural guarantees for asylum applicants, but also leaves much discretion to the EU Member States to design their own asylum procedures. This book examines the meaning of the EU right to an effective remedy in terms of the legality and interpretation of the Procedures Directive in regard to several key aspects of asylum procedure: the right to remain on the territory of the Member State, the right to be heard, the standard and burden of proof and evidentiary assessment, judicial review and the use of secret evidence.


October 13, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 10, 2016

Three Startups Aiming to Disrupt Immigration Law

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Eva Longoria Pushes Back Against Mike Pence’s ‘That Mexican Thing’ Comment


The two Vice Presidential candidates, Tim Kaine and Mike Pence, debated earlier this weekEva Longoria appears in a video from the Democratic National Committee that posted on Friday in which she takes issue with Mike Pence’s ‘Mexican thing’ comment at the vice presidential debate. 

“Governor Pence — we are not a thing,” she says in the video, below. “We are proud American citizens. We are mothers and fathers working for a better future for our kids. And we are children studying hard and dreaming of giving back to the United States that we love.” 

In the waning minutes of the debate, Pence responded to one of Tim Kaine’s comments by saying, “You whipped out that Mexican thing again.” Kaine had been referring to comments that Donald Trump made when he announced his presidential candidacy in June, 2015. Trump said, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” 

After the debate, Democrats seized on Pence’s “Mexican thing” comment, with Hillary Clinton’s campaign even acquired as a domain name. It directs to her campaign website. #Thatmexicanthing also became a trending hashtag on Twitter. 

“#Thatmexicanthing is going to decide who’s going to be the next President. No one can make it to the WH without the Latino vote. You’ll see,” Fusion anchor Jorge Ramos wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. 

The Longoria video is not just an effort to keep the post-debate story alive, but to mobilize voter registration. In the video, she directs viewers where to register. 

Longoria spoke at the Democratic National Convention in July, and said that Trump was “insulting American families” with his comments.

Pence's comments have attracted considerable commentary.  For an example, see Julia Arce's piece on Refinery 29 ("I Am Whipping Out My "Mexican Thing" — & You Should, Too.").  Arce is author of a book:




October 8, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Modern Immigration Stories Might Be TV's Next Trend

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Vanity Fair has a story on a possible new television trend -- immigration stories on television. 

Diane Guerrero , who has had supporting roles in Orange Is the New Black and Jane the Virgin, will star in an upcoming drama about immigration on CBS. The show is based on Guerrero's memoir, In the Country We Love, which details her immigration experiences. When she was 14, Guerrero's parents were deported to Colombia. Guerrero, who was born in the United States, remained here and was raised by friends and family. Now she is an outspoken advocate for immigration reform

The television show will revolve around a corporate attorney with a similar past who decides to start handling pro-bono cases for undocumented immigrants, Deadline reports.




October 7, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

From the Bookshelves: City of Dreams: The 400-Year Epic History of Immigrant New York by Tyler Anbinder


City of Dreams: The 400-Year Epic History of Immigrant New York by Tyler Anbinder (2016)

A defining American story, never before told with such breadth of scope, lavish research, and resounding spirit

With more than three million foreign-born residents today, New York has been America’s defining port of entry for nearly four centuries, a magnet for transplants from all over the globe. These migrants have brought their hundreds of languages and distinct cultures to the city, and from there to the entire country. More immigrants have come to New York than all other entry points combined. 
City of Dreams is peopled with memorable characters both beloved and unfamiliar, whose lives unfold in rich detail: the young man from the Caribbean who passed through New York on his way to becoming a Founding Father; the ten-year-old Angelo Siciliano, from Calabria, who transformed into Charles Atlas, bodybuilder; Dominican-born Oscar de la Renta, whose couture designs have dressed first ladies from Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama. Tyler Anbinder’s story is one of innovators and artists, revolutionaries and rioters, staggering deprivation and soaring triumphs, all playing out against the powerful backdrop of New York City, at once ever-changing and profoundly, permanently itself. City of Dreams provides a vivid sense of what New York looked like, sounded like, smelled like, and felt like over the centuries of its development and maturation into the city we know today.

October 6, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

From the Bookshelves: Violent Borders: Refugees and the Right to Move by Reece Jones


Mexicans meet separated family members at the US-Mexico border fence in Tijuana. Photo: John Moore / Getty Images

The Guardian excerpts Violent Borders: Refugees and the Right to Move by Reece Jones (2016).  Here is an abstract of the book:

A major new exploration of the refugee crisis, focusing on how borders are formed and policed

Forty thousand people died trying to cross international borders in the past decade, with the high-profile deaths along the shores of Europe only accounting for half of the grisly total.

Reece Jones argues that these deaths are not exceptional, but rather the result of state attempts to contain populations and control access to resources and opportunities. “We may live in an era of globalization,” he writes, “but much of the world is increasingly focused on limiting the free movement of people.”

In Violent Borders, Jones crosses the migrant trails of the world, documenting the billions of dollars spent on border security projects and their dire consequences for countless millions. While the poor are restricted by the lottery of birth to slum dwellings in the aftershocks of decolonization, the wealthy travel without constraint, exploiting pools of cheap labor and lax environmental regulations. With the growth of borders and resource enclosures, the deaths of migrants in search of a better life are intimately connected to climate change, environmental degradation, and the growth of global wealth inequality.



October 5, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

“They Were Scattered Everywhere, All Drowning.” How a Lampedusa Optician Became a Hero of the Migrant Crisis

Mnd09292016-2A boat carrying nearly 600 migrants capsizes in the Mediterranean in May 2016. 562 were rescued and 5 died. Photo: Italian Navy

Emma Jane Kirby interviews an optician who dramatically rescued many migrants on the high seas. She is the author of the book, The Optician of Lampedusa, which describes itself as "PERHAPS THE MOST DEVASTATING FIRST-PERSON ACCOUNT OF THE REFUGEE CRISIS YOU'LL EVER READ."


Here is an abstract of the book:

The only optician on the island of Lampedusa in the Mediterranean is an ordinary man in his fifties, who used to be indifferent to the fate of the thousands of refugees landing on the coast of the Italian island. One day in the fall of 2013, the unimaginable scale of the tragedy became clear to him, and it changed him forever: as he was out boating with some friends, he encountered hundreds of men, women and children drowning in the aftermath of a shipwreck. The Optician and his seven friends managed to save 47 people (his boat was designed to hold ten people). Hundreds died. This is a poignant and unforgettable account about the awakening of conscience: more than that, it brings home the reality of an ongoing refugee crisis that has resulted in one of the most massive migrations in human history.

More than 360 people died in the disaster off the coast of Lampedusa on October 3, 2013. The original interview with Carmine Menna, the basis for this book, can be heard here.


September 29, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

From the Bookshelves: Rightlessness Testimony and Redress in U.S. Prison Camps since World War II by A. Naomi Paik



Rightlessness Testimony and Redress in U.S. Prison Camps since World War II by A. Naomi Paik

In this bold book, A. Naomi Paik grapples with the history of U.S. prison camps that have confined people outside the boundaries of legal and civil rights. Removed from the social and political communities that would guarantee fundamental legal protections, these detainees are effectively rightless, stripped of the right even to have rights. Rightless people thus expose an essential paradox: while the United States purports to champion inalienable rights at home and internationally, it has built its global power in part by creating a regime of imprisonment that places certain populations perceived as threats beyond rights. The United States' status as the guardian of rights coincides with, indeed depends on, its creation of rightlessness.

Yet rightless people are not silent. Drawing from an expansive testimonial archive of legal proceedings, truth commission records, poetry, and experimental video, Paik shows how rightless people use their imprisonment to protest U.S. state violence. She examines demands for redress by Japanese Americans interned during World War II, testimonies of HIV-positive Haitian refugees detained at Guantánamo in the early 1990s, and appeals by Guantánamo’s enemy combatants from the War on Terror. In doing so, she reveals a powerful ongoing contest over the nature and meaning of the law, over civil liberties and global human rights, and over the power of the state in people's lives.



September 21, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 17, 2016

From the Bookshelves: Latinos and Criminal Justice: An Encyclopedia by José Luis Morín


As part of the launch of the book, Latinos and Criminal Justice: An Encyclopedia, a two-day event on Latina/os and criminal justice is being organized at John Jay College of Criminal Justice for September 21 and 22, 2016.  The primary goal of the conference will be the dissemination of the research and accurate information about Latina/os and criminal justice and dispel all-too-popular myths and misconceptions about Latina/os and crime.  For conference details, see Download LatinosCJ Conference Poster-Flyer FINAL 2016 .

Latinos and Criminal Justice is a unique compilation of essays and entries provides critical insights into the Latino/a experience with the U.S. criminal justice system.

• Topical essays that provide context to major contemporary issues, such as immigrants and crime, drugs, youth, U.S.-Mexico border crime, policing, and prisons

• Shorter, A–Z entries on a wide range of additional topics

• Extensive bibliographies identifying further readings in the subject area

The first day of the conference will consist of a press briefing (3:30pm – 5:00 pm) to take place at the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, located near the John Jay campus, the afternoon of September 21, followed by a reception afterwards (5:00-7:00 pm).  A conference will be held at John Jay College of Criminal Justice on the second day.  The news media and a broader audience of scholars, practitioners, activists and students will be invited to hear more in-depth presentations on the topic of Latina/os and criminal justice on this day.  Those attending will hear about issues covered in the book and about new and pressing issues related to the topic.  The presenters will include some who contributed to the volume and others engaged in various aspects of the Latina/o experience with the U.S. criminal justice system.

The conference on September 22nd will be livestreamed.  A link will be available on the John Jay website ( for that purpose.


September 17, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 11, 2016

From the Bookshelves: Edgar and Brigitte: A German Jewish Passage to America by Rosemarie Bodenheimer


Edgar and Brigitte A German Jewish Passage to America by Rosemarie Bodenheimer

Edgar and Brigitte: A German Jewish Passage to America is the fruit of an extraordinary archive of personal journals, letters, speeches, and published writings left by Edgar and Brigitte Bodenheimer, who emigrated from Nazi Germany in 1933 and became American law professors. More German than Jewish, highly educated, and saturated to the core in the German cultural ideal of Bildung, Edgar and Brigitte embody many of the qualities of their generation of German Jews in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.
The couple’s encounters with the strange new dynamics of race, religion, and the workplace in their new American home offer a compelling account of the struggles that faced many immigrants with deep German roots. It is also an intimate portrait of a now-vanished German Jewish culture as it played out in the lives of Bodenheimer’s parents and her grandparents from the 1920s to the late 1960s, a story of emigration, assimilation, and the private struggles that accompany those forced shifts in orientation.
The Bodenheimers’ letters and journals offer engaging perspectives into their personal lives that retrospective memories cannot match. Braiding intimate biography together with history and memoir, Edgar and Brigitte will appeal both to historians of the European Jewish diaspora and to readers interested in the struggles and resilience of people whose lives were upended by Hitler.
Rosemarie Bodenheimer is a professor emerita of English with a focus on Victorian Studies at Boston College. She is the author of Knowing Dickens and The Real Life of Mary Ann Evans: George Elliot, Her Letters and Fiction, which was chosen as a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Book.

September 11, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)