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
Monday, September 8, 2014
Half a century after it began, the Vietnam War still has a hold on our national psyche. Lan Cao’s now-classic debut, Monkey Bridge, won her wide renown for “connecting . . . the opposite realities of Vietnam and America” (Isabel Allende). In her triumphant new novel, Cao transports readers back to the war, illuminating events central to twentieth-century history through the lives of one Vietnamese American family. Minh is a former South Vietnamese commander of the airborne brigade who left his homeland with his daughter, Mai. During the war, their lives became entwined with those of two Americans: James, a soldier, and Cliff, a military adviser. Forty years later, Minh and his daughter Mai live in a close-knit Vietnamese immigrant community in suburban Virginia. As Mai discovers a series of devastating truths about what really happened to her family during those years, Minh reflects upon his life and the story of love and betrayal that has remained locked in his heart since the fall of Saigon.
Thursday, September 4, 2014
From the Bookshelves: What Every Lawyer Needs to Know About Immigration Law by Anna Williams Shavers, Jennifer Hermansky, Jill E Family, Lillian Katherine Kalmykov, William S Jordan III
Sponsor: Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice
Publisher: ABA Book Publishing
This practical guide provides legal practitioners with tips on issues that they may encounter when representing clients that may necessitate an examination of immigration-related issues.
Given the many ways in which immigration law can affect a single individual as well as as large corporation, most lawyers will encounter a client needing immigration law advice. Yet for the nonspecialist, immigration law can be daunting, particularly because it is governed by a complex mix of statutes, regulations, and federal and administrative court guidance - as well as by adjudicatory policies from multiple administrative agencies. Thus, it is important for lawyers to understand how best to spot immigration issues for clients, and when to involve an immigration attorney for assistance with a client. This book was written by immigration law specialists who insights, guidance, and practice tips can offer help in understanding these issues.
The book is meant to provide attorneys working in various areas of law with enough information to identify problematic immigration issues, counsel their clients accordingly and if the matter is advanced to know when to advise the client to consult with immigration counsel. It will also introduce attorneys to the myriad of agencies involved in the immigration process.
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
From the Bookshelves: Migrants for Export How the Philippine State Brokers Labor to the World by Robyn Magalit Rodriguez
Robyn Magalit Rodriguez investigates how and why the Philippine government transformed itself into what she calls a labor brokerage state, which actively prepares, mobilizes, and regulates its citizens for migrant work abroad. Drawing on ethnographic research of the Philippine government’s migration bureaucracy, interviews, and archival work, Rodriguez presents a new analysis of neoliberal globalization and its consequences for nation-state formation.
Migrant workers from the Philippines are ubiquitous to global capitalism, with nearly 10 percent of the population employed in almost two hundred countries. In a visit to the United States in 2003, Philippine president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo even referred to herself as not only the head of state but also “the CEO of a global Philippine enterprise of eight million Filipinos who live and work abroad.” Robyn Magalit Rodriguez investigates how and why the Philippine government transformed itself into what she calls a labor brokerage state, which actively prepares, mobilizes, and regulates its citizens for migrant work abroad. Filipino men and women fill a range of jobs around the globe, including domestic work, construction, and engineering, and they have even worked in the Middle East to support U.S. military operations. At the same time, the state redefines nationalism to normalize its citizens to migration while fostering their ties to the Philippines. Those who leave the country to work and send their wages to their families at home are treated as new national heroes. Drawing on ethnographic research of the Philippine government’s migration bureaucracy, interviews, and archival work, Rodriguez presents a new analysis of neoliberal globalization and its consequences for nation-state formation.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
From the Bookshelves: Still Waiting for Tomorrow The Law and Politics of Unresolved Refugee Crises. Editors: Susan M. Akram, Tom Syring
Still Waiting for Tomorrow The Law and Politics of Unresolved Refugee Crises. Editors: Susan M. Akram, Tom Syring
This book focuses on the common features of protracted refugee situations. It is a critical examination of the reasons underlying the extended nature of those crises, as well as potential solutions to them. The book addresses war and armed conflict, environmental change and natural disasters, statelessness and protection gaps, among other elements, as common origins of refugee crises. It analyzes the root causes of some of the longest-standing unresolved refugee situations in the world today (including, but not limited to, the cases of Palestinians, Sahrawis, and Tibetans), addressing the particular political and legal tensions undermining solutions to them. The book comprises contributions from some of the leading scholars and practitioners in the field of international refugee, human rights and humanitarian law, and international relations.
Monday, September 1, 2014
Migrant by Maxine Trottier is a picture book for young children. It tells the story of a migrant family from the perspective of its youngest member. She feels like a bird, flying north for the spring and south every fall. She feels like a jackrabbit living in an abandoned burrow (the housing of previous migrants).
Interestingly, the end notes indicate that the story concerns German Mennonites, traveling between Mexico and Canada for work.
Friday, August 29, 2014
Fom the Bookshelves: Living “Illegal”: The Human Face of Unauthorized Immigration by Marie Friedmann Marquardt, Timothy J. Steigenga, Philip J. Williams, Manuel A. Vásquez
Living “Illegal”: The Human Face of Unauthorized Immigration by Marie Friedmann Marquardt, Timothy J. Steigenga, Philip J. Williams, Manuel A. Vásquez
A myth-busting account of the tragedies, tales of success, and ambiguities of undocumented immigration—the stories behind the overheated rhetoric in the news
“What Part of ‘Illegal’ Don’t You Understand?” —anti-immigrant protest sign
Today’s polarized debates over immigration revolve around a set of one-dimensional characters and unchallenged stereotypes. Yet the resulting policy prescriptions, not least of them Arizona’s draconian new law SB 1070, are dangerously real and profoundly counterproductive.
A major new antidote to this trend, Living “Illegal” is an ambitious new account of the least understood and most relevant aspects of the American immigrant experience today. Based on years of research into the lives of ordinary migrants, Living “Illegal” offers richly textured stories of real people—working, building families, and enriching their communities even as the political climate grows more hostile.
Moving far beyond stock images and conventional explanations, Living “Illegal” challenges our assumptions about why immigrants come to the United States, where they settle, and how they have adapted to the often confusing patchwork of local immigration ordinances. This revealing narrative takes us into Southern churches (which have quietly emerged as the only organizations open to migrants), into the fields of Florida, onto the streets of major American cities during the historic immigrant rights marches of 2006, and back and forth across different national boundaries—from Brazil to Mexico and Guatemala.
A deeply humane book, Living “Illegal” will stand as an authoritative new guide to one of the most pressing issues of our time.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain is a Pulitzer-Prize winning collection of short stories by Robert Olen Butler, all of which concern Vietnamese immigrants in Louisiana.
In my Immigration Law class, I use the following excerpts to illustrate the point that even quota-exempt family members are not entitled to automatic presence in the United States. The process for their entry can, in fact, be quite lengthy.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
From the Bookshelves: Binational Human Rights: The U.S.-Mexico Experience, William Paul Simmons and Carol Mueller, Editors
Binational Human Rights: The U.S.-Mexico Experience, William Paul Simmons and Carol Mueller, Editors
Mexico ranks highly on many of the measures that have proven significant for creating a positive human rights record, including democratization, good health and life expectancy, and engagement in the global economy. Yet the nation's most vulnerable populations suffer human rights abuses on a large scale, such as gruesome killings in the Mexican drug war, decades of violent feminicide, migrant deaths in the U.S. desert, and the ongoing effects of the failed detention and deportation system in the States. Some atrocities have received extensive and sensational coverage, while others have become routine or simply ignored by national and international media. Binational Human Rights examines both well-known and understudied instances of human rights crises in Mexico, arguing that these abuses must be understood not just within the context of Mexican policies but in relation to the actions or inactions of other nations—particularly the United States.
The United States and Mexico share the longest border in the world between a developed and a developing nation; the relationship between the two nations is complex, varied, and constantly changing, but the policies of each directly affect the human rights situation across the border. Binational Human Rights brings together explain the mechanisms by which a perfect storm of structural and policy factors on both sides has led to such widespread human rights abuses.
Contributors: Alejandro Anaya Muñoz, Luis Alfredo Arriola Vega, Timothy J. Dunn, Miguel Escobar-Valdez, Clara Jusidman, Maureen Meyer, Carol Mueller, Julie A. Murphy Erfani, William Paul Simmons, Kathleen Staudt, Michelle Téllez.
William Paul Simmons is Associate Professor of Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Arizona and author of Human Rights Law and the Marginalized Other and An-Archy and Justice: An Introduction to Emmanuel Levinas's Political Thought.
Carol Mueller is Professor of Sociology and former Director of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University. She is coeditor of Repression and Mobilization and Frontiers of Social Movement Theory, among other titles.