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.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
From the Bookshelves: Diaspora Lobbies and the US Government Convergence and Divergence in Making Foreign Policy Edited by Josh DeWind and Renata Segura
Diaspora Lobbies and the US Government Convergence and Divergence in Making Foreign Policy Edited by Josh DeWind and Renata Segura
As a nation of immigrants, the United States has long accepted that citizens who identify with an ancestral homeland may hold dual loyalties; yet Americans have at times regarded the persistence of foreign ties with suspicion, seeing them as a sign of potential disloyalty and a threat to national security. Diaspora Lobbies and the US Government brings together a group of distinguished scholars of international politics and international migration to examine this contradiction in the realm of American policy making, ultimately concluding that the relationship between diaspora groups and the government can greatly affect foreign policy. This relationship is not unidirectional—as much as immigrants make an effort to shape foreign policy, government legislators and administrators also seek to enlist them in furthering American interests.
From Israel to Cuba and from Ireland to Iraq, the case studies in this volume illustrate how potential or ongoing conflicts raise the stakes for successful policy outcomes. Contributors provide historical and sociological context, gauging the influence of diasporas based on population size and length of time settled in the United States, geographic concentration, access to resources from their own members or through other groups, and the nature of their involvement back in their homelands. This collection brings a fresh perspective to a rarely discussed aspect of the design of US foreign policy and offers multiple insights into dynamics that may determine how the United States will engage other nations in future decades.
Authors: Josh DeWind is Director of the International Migration Program of the Social Science Research Council. He is the co-editor of The Handbook of International Migration: The American Experience. Renata Segura is Associate Director of The Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum of the Social Science Research Council.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
From the Bookshelves: Border Politics: Social Movements, Collective Identities, and Globalization Edited by Nancy A. Naples and Jennifer Bickham Mendez
Border Politics: Social Movements, Collective Identities, and Globalization Edited by Nancy A. Naples and Jennifer Bickham Mendez, October, 2014
In the current historical moment borders have taken on heightened material and symbolic significance, shaping identities and the social and political landscape. “Borders”—defined broadly to include territorial dividing lines as well as sociocultural boundaries—have become increasingly salient sites of struggle over social belonging and cultural and material resources. How do contemporary activists navigate and challenge these borders? What meanings do they ascribe to different social, cultural and political boundaries, and how do these meanings shape the strategies in which they engage? Moreover, how do these social movements confront internal borders based on the differences that emerge within social change initiatives?
Border Politics, edited by Nancy A. Naples and Jennifer Bickham Mendez, explores these important questions through eleven carefully selected case studies situated in geographic contexts around the globe. By conceptualizing struggles over identity, social belonging and exclusion as extensions of border politics, the authors capture the complex ways in which geographic, cultural, and symbolic dividing lines are blurred and transcended, but also fortified and redrawn. This volume notably places right-wing and social justice initiatives in the same analytical frame to identify patterns that span the political spectrum. Border Politics offers a lens through which to understand borders as sites of diverse struggles, as well as the strategies and practices used by diverse social movements in today’s globally interconnected world.
Contributors: Phillip Ayoub, Renata Blumberg, Yvonne Braun, Moon Charania, Michael Dreiling, Jennifer Johnson, Jesse Klein, Andrej Kurnik, Sarah Maddison, Duncan McDuie-Ra, Jennifer Bickham Mendez, Nancy A. Naples, David Paternotte, Maple Razsa, Raphi Rechitsky, Kyle Rogers, Deana Rohlinger, Cristina Sanidad, Meera Sehgal, Tara Stamm, Michelle Téllez
Thursday, November 6, 2014
Author and poet Andrei Codrescu won the 1970 Big Table Poetry award for his first poetry book, License to Carry a Gun, and in 1983 founded Exquisite Corpse, a surrealist literary journal. Since then, he has won many awards and honors for his books of poetry and his novels, including the Pushcart Prize on two separate instances. He is also a commentator for NPR’s All Things Considered, and won the Peabody award for his film Road Scholar.
Sunday, November 2, 2014
Diane von Furstenberg started showing her designs to New York boutiques and magazine editors in the late 1960s. The dresses she created weren't very expensive, wrap dresses made of gentle jersey, gorgeously patterned, with a deep-cut V-neck and light belt. "It's a dress that was practical and pretty and sexy," von Furstenberg tells NPR's Audie Cornish. It's been described, she says, as "a dress that you get the men with ... but he doesn't mind taking you to his mother." It sold by the millions. In her new memoir, The Woman I Wanted to Be, von Furstenberg tells her unlikely story of success. Her mother was a Belgian Holocaust survivor.
Diane von Furstenberg initially rose to prominence when she married into the German princely House of Fürstenberg, as the wife of Prince Egon of Fürstenberg. Following their divorce in 1972, she has continued to use his family name, although she is no longer entitled to use the title princess She re-launched her fashion company, Diane von Fürstenberg (DvF), in 1997, with the reintroduction of her famous wrap dress. The company is now a global luxury lifestyle brand offering four complete collections a year. DvF is available in over 70 countries and 45 free-standing shops worldwide. In 2005, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) awarded her the Lifetime Achievement Award and the following year named her as their president, a position she has held since 2006.
Wrap dress, 1975–76 Diane Von Furstenberg
Saturday, November 1, 2014
Award-winning biographer Meryle Secrest began her career in journalism, later publishing her first book, Between Me and Life: A Biography of Romaine Brooks, in 1974. Writing primarily about artists and musicians, she has been recognized by critics for her assiduous research and engaging style. For Being Bernard Berenson, published in 1979, Secrest was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She has also written books on Salvador Dali, Frank Lloyd Wright, and, in 2007, wrote about herself in Shoot the Widow: Adventures of a Biographer in Search of Her Subject.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
From the Bookshelves: American Justice 2014: Nine Clashing Visions on the Supreme Court by Garrett Epps
In this provocative and insightful book, constitutional scholar and journalist Garrett Epps reviews the key decisions of the 2013–2014 Supreme Court term through the words of the nation's nine most powerful legal authorities. Epps succinctly outlines one opinion or dissent from each justice during the recent term, using it to illuminate the political and ideological views that prevail on the court. The result is a highly readable summary of the term's most controversial cases as well as a probing investigation of the issues and personalities that shape the court's decisions. Accompanied by a concise overview of Supreme Court procedure and brief case summaries, American Justice 2014 is an engaging and instructive read for seasoned court-watchers as well as legal novices eager for an introduction to the least-understood branch of government. This revealing portrait of a year in legal action dramatizes the ways that the Court has come to reflect and encourage the polarization that increasingly defines American politics.
Garrett Epps is a contributing writer for The Atlantic and The American Prospect. His most recent book, American Epic: Reading the U.S. Constitution, was named a finalist for the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel Award. Epps is Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore.
Monday, October 27, 2014
Here is a description of the the latest from John Grisham: The Great Recession of 2008 left many young professionals out of work. Promising careers were suddenly ended as banks, hedge funds, and law firms engaged in mass lay-offs and brutal belt tightening. Samantha Kofer was a third year associate at Scully & Pershing, New York City’s largest law firm. Two weeks after Lehman Brothers collapsed, she lost her job, her security, and her future. A week later she was working as an unpaid intern in a legal aid clinic deep in small town Appalachia. There, for the first time in her career, she was confronted with real clients with real problems. She also stumbled across secrets that should have remained buried deep in the mountains forever.
I read this book over the weekend. It was a quick and interesting read. Grisham lets us know where he sees rewards in law practice and what those rewards are -- it is not all about money.
Sunday, October 12, 2014
Between the eighteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, countless African Americans passed as white, leaving behind families and friends, roots and community. It was, as Allyson Hobbs writes, a chosen exile, a separation from one racial identity and the leap into another. This revelatory history of passing explores the possibilities and challenges that racial indeterminacy presented to men and women living in a country obsessed with racial distinctions. It also tells a tale of loss. As racial relations in America have evolved so has the significance of passing. To pass as white in the antebellum South was to escape the shackles of slavery. After emancipation, many African Americans came to regard passing as a form of betrayal, a selling of one’s birthright. When the initially hopeful period of Reconstruction proved short-lived, passing became an opportunity to defy Jim Crow and strike out on one’s own. Although black Americans who adopted white identities reaped benefits of expanded opportunity and mobility, Hobbs helps us to recognize and understand the grief, loneliness, and isolation that accompanied—and often outweighed—these rewards. By the dawning of the civil rights era, more and more racially mixed Americans felt the loss of kin and community was too much to bear, that it was time to “pass out” and embrace a black identity. Although recent decades have witnessed an increasingly multiracial society and a growing acceptance of hybridity, the problem of race and identity remains at the center of public debate and emotionally fraught personal decisions.
Click here for a NPR discussion of the book.
Thursday, October 9, 2014
From the Bookshelves: "I Hear America Singing": Folk Music and National Identity by Rachel Clare Donaldson
"I Hear America Singing": Folk Music and National Identity by Rachel Clare Donaldson
Folk music is more than an idealized reminder of a simpler past. It reveals a great deal about present-day understandings of community and belonging. It celebrates the shared traditions that define a group or nation. In America, folk music—from African American spirituals to English ballads and protest songs—renders the imagined community more tangible and comprises a critical component of our diverse national heritage.
In "I Hear America Singing," Rachel Donaldson traces the vibrant history of the twentieth-century folk music revival from its origins in the 1930s through its end in the late 1960s. She investigates the relationship between the revival and concepts of nationalism, showing how key figures in the revival—including Pete Seeger, Alan Lomax, Moses Asch, and Ralph Rinzler—used songs to influence the ways in which Americans understood the values, the culture, and the people of their own nation.
As Donaldson chronicles how cultural norms were shaped over the course of the mid-twentieth century, she underscores how various groups within the revival and their views shifted over time. "I Hear America Singing" provides a stirring account of how and why the revivalists sustained their culturally pluralist and politically democratic Americanism over this tumultuous period in American history.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
From the Bookshelves: Backroads Pragmatists Mexico's Melting Pot and Civil Rights in the United States by Ruben Flores, Migrants, Money, and Meaning in El Salvador and the United States by David Pedersen
There are two interesting and topical immigratiuon-related books that I preview here today.
Like the United States, Mexico is a country of profound cultural differences. In the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution (1910-20), these differences became the subject of intense government attention as the Republic of Mexico developed ambitious social and educational policies designed to integrate its multitude of ethnic cultures into a national community of democratic citizens. To the north, Americans were beginning to confront their own legacy of racial injustice, embarking on the path that, three decades later, led to the destruction of Jim Crow.
Backroads Pragmatists is the first book to show the transnational cross-fertilization between these two movements. In molding Mexico's ambitious social experiment, postrevolutionary reformers adopted pragmatism from John Dewey and cultural relativism from Franz Boas, which, in turn, profoundly shaped some of the critical intellectual figures in the Mexican American civil rights movement. Ruben Flores follows studied Mexico's integration theories and applied them to America's own problem, holding Mexico up as a model of cultural fusion. These American reformers made the American West their laboratory in endeavors that included educator George I. Sanchez's attempts to transform New Mexico's government agencies, the rural education campaigns that psychologist Loyd Tireman adapted from the Mexican ministry of education, and anthropologist Ralph L. Beals's use of applied Mexican anthropology in the U.S. federal courts to transform segregation policy in southern California. Through deep archival research and ambitious synthesis, Backroads Pragmatists illuminates how nation-building in postrevolutionary Mexico unmistakably influenced the civil rights movement and democratic politics in the United States.
Click here for a review of Backroads Pragmatists.
Migrants, Money, and Meaning in El Salvador and the United States by David Pedersen
Over the past half-century, El Salvador has transformed dramatically. Historically reliant on primary exports like coffee and cotton, the country emerged from a brutal civil war in 1992 to find much of its national income now coming from a massive emigrant workforce—over a quarter of its population—that earns money in the United States and sends it home. In American Value, David Pedersen examines this new way of life as it extends across two places: Intipucá, a Salvadoran town infamous for its remittance wealth, and the Washington, DC, metro area, home to the second largest population of Salvadorans in the United States. Pedersen charts El Salvador’s change alongside American deindustrialization, viewing the Salvadoran migrant work abilities used in new lowwage American service jobs as a kind of primary export, and shows how the latest social conditions linking both countries are part of a longer history of disparity across the Americas.
Drawing on the work of Charles S. Peirce, he demonstrates how the defining value forms—migrant work capacity, services, and remittances—act as signs, building a moral world by communicating their exchangeability while hiding the violence and exploitation on which this story rests. Theoretically sophisticated, ethnographically rich, and compellingly written, American Value offers critical insights into practices that are increasingly common throughout the world.
Monday, October 6, 2014
FROM THE BOOKSHELVES: Tom Syring and Susan Musarrat Akram, editors, Still Waiting for Tomorrow: The Law and Politics of Unresolved Refugee Crises
Still Waiting for Tomorrow: The Law and Politics of Unresolved Refugee Crises by Tom Syring, Norwegian Immigration Appeals Board, and Susan Musarrat Akram, Boston University School of Law September 1, 2014 STILL WAITING FOR TOMORROW: THE LAW AND POLITICS OF UNRESOLVED REFUGEE CRISES, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Susan M. Akram and Tom Syring (eds.)
Abstract: This volume is particularly concerned with identifying the root causes of some of the longest-standing unresolved refugee situations in the world today, and addressing the particular political and legal tensions undermining solutions to them. The book discusses the well-known factors that create refugee flows: war and armed conflict, environmental change and natural disasters, statelessness and protection gaps. It examines why particular refugee flows are not resolved — or are not resolvable — even where the original factors creating the flows have been mitigated or have disappeared. It also scrutinizes how various national and international actors’ policies have contributed with their interventions, omissions, and legal provisions to either alleviating a simmering refugee situation, or to turning it into a protracted or large-scale crisis. The volume covers historical and contemporary refugee situations, including Burma, Congo (DRC), Iraq, Palestine, Somalia, Tibet, Vietnam, and West-Sahara. A table of contents, foreword, and introductory chapter is enclosed in full text.
Thursday, October 2, 2014
Extraordinary Rendition Paperback by Paul Batista (2013 Fiction)
When Ali Hussein, suspected terrorist and alleged banker for Al Qaeda, is finally transported from Guantanamo Bay to the US mainland to stand trial, many are stunned when Byron Carlos Johnson, a pre-eminent lawyer and son of a high-profile diplomat, volunteers to represent him. On principle, Johnson thought he was merely defending a man unjustly captured through rendition and water-boarded illegally. But Johnson soon learns that there is much more at stake than one man's civil rights. Hussein's intimate knowledge of key financial transactions could lead to the capture of or the unabated funding of the world's most dangerous terror cells. This makes Hussein the target of corrupt US intelligence forces on one side, and ruthless international terrorists on the other, and puts Byron Carlos Johnson squarely in the crosshairs of both. Written by no-holds-barred attorney Paul Batista, Extraordinary Rendition excels not only as an action thriller, but as a sophisticated legal procedural as well. Smart. Fast. Heart-pounding. A legal thriller of the highest order.
Sunday, September 28, 2014
Born during China’s Cultural Revolution, Ping Fu was imprisoned by government officials before she immigrated to the United States. In 1997, she co-founded Geomagic, a software company that pioneered 3D technologies to design and manufacture products at a lower cost than mass production. Since 2010, Ping has served on the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship board at the White House. She published a well-received memoir called Bend, Not Break in 2012.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
From the Bookshelves: International Migration, U.S. Immigration Law and Civil Society: From the Colonial Era to the 113th Congress Edited by Leonir Mario Chiarello and Donald Kerwin
The Scalabrini International Migration Network (SIMN) and the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) have released a new book on US immigration flows, trends, law and civil society titled International Migration, U.S. Immigration Law and Civil Society: From the Colonial Era to the 113th Congress. It is the tenth in a series on international migration to and within the Americas. Earlier volumes have covered immigration policy and civil society in the Western Hemisphere and in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay and Peru. The series draws on contributions from leading scholars and practitioners in the field. Joseph Chamie, the former director of the United Nations Population Division and former editor of the International Migration Review, provides a magisterial overview of migration flows to and within the Americas over the last 525 years, with particular focus on the United States and the territory that became the United States. He also highlights several themes that weave through this long history. Charles Wheeler, a senior attorney and director of training and legal support for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), provides a concise and timely history of US immigration law and policy, starting in the colonial era and leading to the current impasse on immigration reform. Sara Campos, a freelance writer and the former director of the Asylum Program for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights in San Francisco, writes a groundbreaking chapter on the growing role of civil society in the US immigrant communities and in the US immigration debate. All three chapters, as well as an introduction by Donald Kerwin, speak very directly to the US immigration debate.
Click here for a review of the book.
Monday, September 22, 2014
FROM THE BOOKSHELVES Sounds of Belonging: U.S. Spanish-language Radio and Public Advocacy by Dolores Ines Casillas
The last two decades have produced continued Latino population growth, and marked shifts in both communications and immigration policy. Since the 1990s, Spanish- language radio has dethroned English-language radio stations in major cities across the United States, taking over the number one spot in Los Angeles, Houston, Miami, and New York City. Investigating the cultural and political history of U.S. Spanish-language broadcasts throughout the twentieth century, Sounds of Belonging reveals how these changes have helped Spanish-language radio secure its dominance in the major U.S. radio markets. Bringing together theories on the immigration experience with sound and radio studies, Dolores Inés Casillas documents how Latinos form listening relationships with Spanish-language radio programming. Using a vast array of sources, from print culture and industry journals to sound archives of radio programming, she reflects on institutional growth, the evolution of programming genres, and reception by the radio industry and listeners to map the trajectory of Spanish-language radio, from its grassroots origins to the current corporate-sponsored business it has become. Casillas focuses on Latinos’ use of Spanish-language radio to help navigate their immigrant experiences with U.S. institutions, for example in broadcasting discussions about immigration policies while providing anonymity for a legally vulnerable listenership. Sounds of Belonging proposes that debates of citizenship are not always formal personal appeals but a collective experience heard loudly through broadcast radio.
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Check out the SF Immigrant Film Festival 2014. Sit back and enjoy 3 Short Movie Marathons:
Saturday, Oct.4 at La Peña Cultural Center - Berkeley
Sun. Oct. 5 at Mission Cultural Center, MCCLA-San Francisco
Thursday, Oct. 9 at City College of San Francisco, Mission Campus
This book offers a comprehensive portrait of French and American journalists in action as they grapple with how to report and comment on one of the most important issues of our era. Drawing on interviews with leading journalists and analyses of an extensive sample of newspaper and television coverage since the early 1970s, Rodney Benson shows how the immigration debate has become increasingly focused on the dramatic, emotion-laden frames of humanitarianism and public order. Yet even in an era of global hypercommercialism, Benson also finds enduring French-American differences related to the distinctive societal positions, professional logics, and internal structures of their journalistic fields. In both countries, less commercialized media tend to offer the most in-depth, multi-perspective, and critical news. Benson challenges classic liberalism's assumptions about state intervention's chilling effects on the press, suggests costs as well as benefits to the current vogue in personalized narrative news, and calls attention to journalistic practices that can help empower civil society. This book offers new theories and methods for sociologists and media scholars and fresh insights for journalists, policy makers, and concerned citizens.
Here is a review.
Monday, September 15, 2014
Cover Art via Alma Flor Ada
Dancing Home by Alma Flor Ada and Gabriel M. Zubizarreta is a book targeted to children ages 8-12.
It tells the tale of two young cousins: Margie, born in the United States, and Lupe, born in Mexico.
When Lupe comes to live with Margie in California, it's a challenge. Margie's American identity is jeopardized by having her Spanish-speaking-only cousin at school, and Margie resents the closeness she sees between her Mexican-born parents and Lupe. Lupe, meanwhile, has her own struggles with school, her cousin, and her family.
The book does a tremendous job capturing the pain of separation, alienation, and loss associated with otherness. Its portrayal of the inner life of young girls is incredibly realistic.
All in all, two thumbs up. A great read for all immprof families. And, if you're so inclined, here's a link to reading questions in both English and Spanish.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
The book provides foundational knowledge, introducing current issues in national security law. Written by a “who’s who” in the field of national security law, including: John Yoo, Louis Fisher, and Stewart Baker, the book present a series of debates, organized by chapter, in which an author presents ideas in a short essay, and another offers a response.
Patriots Debate is an accessible book offering informed, educated legal reasoning enabling the reader to understand the foundational legal opinions, laws, policies and mores that form both US government policies, and the surrounding debates based on competing views of the Constitution, statutes, presidential directives, judicial decisions and history itself.
Complex national security issue are exaimined:
An exploration of terrorism interrogations
The government as internet protector
Targeted killing--In accordance with the rule of law Law and cyber war--the lessons of history
The future of military detention