Thursday, September 26, 2013

On the significance of Walter White's shaved head


... and other forms of racial capitalism in Breaking Bad, by Drug Wars author Curtis Marez writing for Critical Inquiry.


In preparation for his showdown with Tuco and his posse, Walter shaves his head, making him resemble the Latino gangsters he confronts . . . For the remainder of the series Walter’s shaved head, combined with a goatee and a menacing gangster glare, would become the show’s most visible avatar. And while the shaved head/goatee combination is a fairly widely disseminated masculine style, I would argue that historically and particularly in films and TV shows about drug traffic, the look has been strongly associated with working-class men of color. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Space, identity, and Turkish Berlin

Photograph by the author.


BY ANNIKA HINZE
Assistant professor of political science at Fordham University



Identity is an incredibly complex concept. Each and every one of us is shaped by a myriad of different identities—individual and personal identities, such as the sports and foods that we like, and group identities, which can be related to different sports teams, non-profit organizations we volunteer for, or parties we support. We may prioritize some of these identities over others, but ultimately, each individual is a mosaic of the different things she identifies with. Most of those identities are based on one’s own choice, some on one’s upbringing and socialization, and some of them one is just born into.

Recent discourses on race and immigration in the United States involve highly salient identities, which are ascribed to individuals not based on choice, but based on their skin color or ethnic heritage, and based on the country they and/or their parents were born into. Many immigrants must negotiate both national difference, which may come with linguistic and cultural and possibly religious differences, as well as a different ethnicity in their lives in a new country. For immigrants of the second generation, this can often be particularly challenging. They often find themselves in a place that is “neither here nor there”—somewhere between the identities and cultural values of the country their parents immigrated from and the country of immigration, where they grew up. A racial, ethnic, or religious identity that is visibly different from the mainstream may lead to additional complications. Turkish Germans of the second generation, for instance, often grow up with their parents’ longing for “home.” They spend summer vacations in Turkey, visit relatives, and hear stories of how life used to be before immigration. But in many cases, they do not have any experience with the daily routine of life in Turkey. They speak mostly German outside the home, and even if they are bilingual they are often recognized as “Germans” when they travel to Turkey. On the other hand, even if they were born in Germany, hold German citizenship, and speak German with native fluency, certain “ethnic markers” such as a Turkish name or darker hair and skin make them permanent “Turks” in Germany. On top of that, the stigma of religion can add an additional layer of “difference” for Turkish Germans: In the same way that Mexican Americans have to fight the cliché of being called “illegals” and “wetbacks” (regardless of their true immigration history), Turkish Germans are often categorically labeled as “Muslim.” This means that Turkish identity in Germany is often associated with negative stereotypes about Islam, such as forced marriages and honor killings[1].


A 2003 advertisement by IKEA in Berlin shows a group of Turkish people with fake blonde hair. The subtitle, in German: "Berlin, the secret Swedish capital."


Rejection by the receiving society, which is primarily based on “markers of ethnic and cultural difference” mentioned above, combined with the parents’ longing for the home country, sends contradictory signals to young people of the second generation. Their reality is firmly grounded in the country of immigration, yet they often have the feeling that they do not quite belong. This also has consequences for their identity formation, where they find themselves to be “Almanya’da yabancı, Türkiye’de almancı”—“foreigners in Germany, Germans in Turkey.”

Within the urban environment, this feeling of alienation can be remedied to a certain extent. The urban space of the immigrant enclave, for instance, can reflect the duality or conflict in identity that many Turkish Germans of the second generation experience in their daily lives. Within the immigrant neighborhood, immigrants’ visible markers of difference disappear. Here, they are neither yabancı (foreigners) nor almancı (Germans). Instead, the can live their hybrid identity without seeming different or out of place. My second-generation Turkish German interviewees[2] often didn’t identify themselves as “German” or “Turkish,” regardless of their nationality on paper. On the contrary, they identified themselves as “Berliners,” or as “Kreuzbergers[3].” Their locality, their particular living space became their chosen identity marker in place of any national identity. In the case of Turkish Germans, the process of incorporation into German society and German life is closely tied to—or even dependent on—the neighborhood.

Kasinitz and colleagues (2008)[4] have observed similar patterns among different second-generation immigrants in New York City: In their research, the city itself appears as a proxy for national identity, as the second generation is not quite willing or able (for various reasons) to make a definite transition from their home country to the United States. Instead of defining themselves as American or Dominican, second-generation Dominican Americans might just define themselves as “New Yorkers.” In that sense, a multicultural, diverse city or neighborhood can serve not just as a container for various immigrant identities, but actively shape them. The city or the neighborhood, in other words, can become a bridge between different and often conflicting national identities for immigrants, who find themselves in between countries and identities—“neither quite here nor quite there.”

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When asked about a personal anecdote from my research, it is the following story that I like to tell most often. The story was told to me by Deniz (I changed the names of all my interviewees to protect their privacy) while I interviewed her about integration policy. She started her personal story with this anecdote, and she told me that it was her personal quest to tell the story time and time again to anyone who would listen, so people would understand the challenges encountered by second generation Germans of Turkish descent in German society:


Deniz encountered a fate "like many of her immigrant classmates in Germany’s rigidly tracked education system: her teachers channeled her into a non-collegetrack high school[5], a decision her parents could have protested successfully if they had been familiar with the system. Deniz’s goal was always to study law at university. She tried to get her teachers to provide her with the recommendation needed to transfer to the Realschule and from there to the college-track high school, the Gymnasium, to obtain a university entry diploma. However, every year she tried to get the recommendation, her teachers refused, arguing that her German was not good enough.

When I spoke to Deniz, her German was perfect and accent-free, and I would not have been able to tell her language skills from that of a native German. Finally, Deniz graduated the Hauptschule. The teacher wrote on her diploma that Deniz could not be recommended to move up to a Realschule or a Gymnasium because her German language skills were inadequate for the material taught in these academically more demanding schools.

Frustrated and angry, Deniz decided to go a different route. She moved to Istanbul and enrolled as a nondegree student at a German Gymnasium there. She took a regular course load and did so well that after one year, her German teachers in Istanbul wrote her letters of recommendation for the Gymnasium in her German hometown, asking the school to allow Deniz to enroll. In response, the principal of the Gymnasium in her hometown told her that he would let her enroll, but that he did not think she was going to make it even through the first year. Contrary to his predictions, Deniz graduated and went on to law school. At the time of the interview, she was in her final years of law school and has since graduated. However, her identity as a Turkish immigrant in Germany, as well as her identification with the country, was deeply affected by this negative experience.

[...]

She is no longer able to identify herself as a German because despite her best efforts to fit in, she was treated like an outsider throughout her high school career. Deniz’s story, and the comparison of her self-identification with that of her friend, shows how the individual experiences of these women shaped them into the personalities they are today, and it indicates to what extent they perceive themselves to be a part of both German and Turkish societies." (Turkish Berlin, pp. 93/94)

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Annike Hinze is author of Turkish Berlin: Integration Policy and Urban Space. She is assistant professor of political science at Fordham University.

"Turkish Berlin goes beyond the broad generalizations in immigrant integration debates by digging into what officials actually mean as they operationalize the term ‘integration’ and how the subjects of the resulting policy, Turkish-origin women in Berlin, understand the treatment they receive. Full of rich ethnographic material, this is a fine book that readers will ponder for a long time."
—John Mollenkopf, author of
Inheriting the City: The Children of Immigrants Come of Age

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[1] While incidents of honor killings are known to have taken place within the Turkish-German community, they remain rare at best. Ironically, one of the most prominent honor killing in Germany was the murder of Hatun Sürücü, who was of Kurdish ethnic background. Her family had immigrated to Germany in the 1970s, and she was born in Germany. She was forced into marriage at 16 and had a son, but left her husband the following year (1999), took off her headscarf and went back to school, raising her son as a single working mother. In 2005, she was killed at a bus stop in Berlin by three shots to the head. Subsequently, her three brothers were prosecuted in her case. Eventually, the youngest of her three brothers, Ayhan, confessed to the killing. The case was widely popularized in the German media.

[2] Hinze, Annika Marlen. 2013. Turkish Berlin: Integration Policy & Urban Space. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

[3] Kreuzberg is an inner-city neighborhood in Berlin. It is famous for its multicultural vibe, and many Turkish Germans originally resided here. These days, Kreuzberg is massively gentrifying, making it more difficult for many original German Turkish residents to remain in the neighborhood.

[4] Kasinitz, Philip; John H. Mollenkopf, Mary C. Waters, Jennifer Holdaway. 2008. Inheriting the City: The Children of Immigrants Come of Age. Russell Sage Foundation.

[5] The German school system is divided into different tiers: Hauptschule, Realschule, Gymnasium. The Hauptschule provides a basic educational training for those students who will go into purely practical professions. The Realschule provides a higher-level educational training for students who will likely move into an apprenticeship after graduation and learn a profession. Both, the Hauptschule and the Realschule end after grade 10. The Gymnasium is the only type of school, which grants a certificate that allows its holder to enter university. Its orientation is very academic, and students graduate (depending on which German state they live in) after grade 12 or grade 13. Since the 1970s, there has also been a Gesamtschule (comprehensive school), in which all three types of schools are combined in order to prevent strict academic segregation. One of the biggest criticisms of this system has been the very early selection of students into the different types of schools. Recommendations are made by a student's two main teachers after the completion of grade 6. These recommendations are not binding (and can be overruled by the parents) but they will be taken into consideration by the admissions committees of many schools. This very complicated system often presents immigrant parents, who are unfamiliar with its intricacies and do not speak the language properly, with a huge challenge. Subsequently, they often do not try to overrule the teacher recommendations, which, as in Deniz' case, condemns students to a non-academic career very early on in life. Furthermore, the academic sorting mechanism of the German three-tier school system has been criticized to be discriminatory towards students of non-German ethnic backgrounds, as in Deniz' story.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What do Indians want? An excerpt from Thomas King's The Inconvenient Indian.

An excerpt from The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King.

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What remains distressing is that much of what passes for public and political discourse on the future of Native people is a discourse of anger, anger that Native people are still here and still a “problem” for White North America, anger that we have something non-Natives don’t have, anger that after all the years of training, after all the years of having assimilation beaten into us, we still prefer to remain Cree and Comanche, Seminole and Salish, Haida and Hopi, Blackfoot and Bellacoola.

All of which brings us to the perennial North American question.

Just what is it that Indians want? Sovereignty? Self-determination? A future? Good jobs? A late-model pickup truck? I get asked that question all the time. What do Indians want? The good news is that you could choose from any of the above and be right.

And you’d be wrong.

What do Indians want?

Great question. The problem is, it’s the wrong question to ask. While there are certainly Indians in North America, the Indians of this particular question don’t exist. The Indians of this question are “the Indian” that Canada and the United States have created for themselves. And as long as the question is asked in that way, there will never be the possibility of an answer. Better to ask what the Lubicon Cree of Alberta want or the Brantford Mohawk of Ontario or the Zuni of New Mexico or the Hupa of northern California or the Tlingit of Alaska.

But I’d just as soon forget the question entirely. There’s a better question to ask. One that will help us to understand the nature of contemporary North American Indian history. A question that we can ask of both the past and the present.

What do Whites want?

No, it’s not a trick question. And I’m not being sarcastic. Native history in North America as writ has never really been about Native people. It’s been about Whites and their needs and desires. What Native peoples wanted has never been a vital concern, has never been a political or social priority. The Lakota didn’t want Europeans in the Black Hills, but Whites wanted the gold that was there. The Cherokee didn’t want to move from Georgia to Indian Territory (Oklahoma), but Whites wanted the land. The Cree of Quebec weren’t at all keen on vacating their homes to make way for the Great Whale project, but there’s excellent money in hydroelectric power. The California Indians did not asked to be enslaved by the Franciscans and forced to build that order’s missions.

What do Whites want?

The answer is quite simple, and it’s been in plain sight all along.

Land.

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Thomas King (The Inconvenient Indian) is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, scriptwriter, and photographer. His many books include the novels Medicine River; Green Grass, Running Water; Truth and Bright Water; two short story collections, One Good Story, That One (Minnesota, 2013) and A Short History of Indians in Canada (Minnesota, 2013); nonfiction, The Truth About Stories (Minnesota, 2005); and the children’s books A Coyote Columbus Story, Coyote Sings to the Moon, Coyote’s New Suit, and A Coyote Solstice Tale. King edited the literary anthology All My Relations and wrote and starred in the popular CBC radio series, The Dead Dog Café. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Western American Literary Association (2004) and an Aboriginal Achievement Award (2003), and was made a member of the Order of Canada in 2004. He has taught Native literature and history and creative writing at the University of Lethbridge, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Guelph and is now retired and lives in Guelph, Ontario.

"No writer is better positioned than Thomas King to tell a richly Native history that reveals the common threads weaving North American patterns across the boundary line between Canada and the United States. The Inconvenient Indian sweeps up popular culture, law and policy, and the complexities of resistance and reinvention, framing all the tough issues through King's powerful storytelling and penetrating eye."
—Philip J. Deloria, University of Michigan

Friday, September 13, 2013

A letter to my daughter on her 10th birthday.

Kate Hopper teaches writing online and at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. Her just-published memoir Ready for Air: A Journey through Premature Motherhood discusses her poignant journey before and after the early delivery of her firstborn, Stella, who turns 10 today.







Dear Stella,

I know I’ve been talking a lot lately about how grown-up you seem. And it’s true. Each time I look at you I’m amazed by the young person that you’ve become. And now you’re ten years old.

When you were one, two, and three years old, I spent your birthday reliving the day you were born. When I woke in the morning, I would look at the time and think, yes, this is when I jolted from my hospital bed, nauseous, the magnesium sulfate thick in my veins. As the clock ticked into late morning and then afternoon, I nodded and thought, this is when the doctor hooked me up to the rice bag. This is when she told me you weren’t tolerating labor. This is when they rolled me into the operating room. This is when, this is when. It was as if I had to relive that day in the safety that the future provided – a future in which you made it out of the NICU alive, a future in which together we made it through the long winter that followed your hospitalization, a future in which you were growing into a healthy, funny, happy, smart little girl.

And now you’re not little anymore. You’ve outgrown your booster seat. You read to yourself at night. You no longer need help shampooing your hair. You wear deodorant, for God’s sake. You’ve outgrown holding my hand in public, and you don’t much like hugs when I meet you at the bus stop. That’s okay though, because you still let me snuggle you at home. You still crawl into my lap, your long, tan legs draped over the arm of the chair. When you do that, I look into your blue-gray eyes, kiss your nose, and squeeze you tight.

I couldn’t have known that you would become who you are—that’s not the way life works, of course. But I wish that on the day you were born, I could have had a glimmer of who you’d be, because then those early days and weeks wouldn’t have been so terrifying. I wouldn’t have been so afraid to love you, to lose you.

When you were just a couple of weeks old, I met a man, a friend of a friend, who, when he heard that you were a preemie and that you were in the NICU, took out his wallet and pulled out a photograph of his two daughters. He told me their names and then pointed to his older daughter and said that she’d been born three months early. I stared at the photo. His daughter had long dark hair, a narrow face, beautiful blue eyes. “She’s okay?” I asked.

“Perfect,” he said. “A normal twelve-year-old.”

I remember feeling a rush of hope. I couldn’t imagine you like that—a girl, almost a young woman. I couldn’t imagine a sister, another daughter. Then he squeezed my hand and said, “Your daughter is going to be okay.”

Do you remember last fall, Stella, when we stopped to get bagels in St. Paul? There was a woman holding the door and she had a tiny baby in her arms. I could tell right away he was a preemie—the bulbous eyes, the narrow cheeks. I asked her how hold he was and she titled her head and said, “Well, he was born 8 weeks early, so he should only be a week old.”

“I thought so,” I said, smiling. “He’s got that look.” And then I put my arm around your shoulders and said, “Well, this is my 32-weeker, and now she’s nine.” And do you remember the woman’s face, the way it lit up, full of hope?

I want you to always be proud of the fact that you were a preemie, that you were born a fighter. I know you understand the power in that, and I also know you understand the importance of sharing your story. Because stories are what connect us to each other. They give hope.

Today I’m not looking at the clock every hour, remembering the day you were born. That day and those weeks and months have loosened their hold on me. Now it’s more recent events I remember: you on the Spanish Web at circus camp, twirling in the air like some weightless fairy; you on the soccer field on my birthday with your alternating double scissors and Maradona moves, scoring your first goal of the season; you holding Zoë’s hand her first day of kindergarten, taking such good care of your little sister. I’m so proud of you, Stella. I love you so much.

Happy Birthday, my sweet one.

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 **Stella read this, we cried, and she said it was okay to post.

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Kate Hopper is author of Ready for Air: A Journey through Premature Motherhood. She teaches writing online and at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She holds an MFA from the University of Minnesota. She is also author of Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers and an editor at Literary Mama. www.katehopper.com.

"There is no writer I'd rather follow this journey with than Kate Hopper. Her storytelling skills are stunning. You will be rooting for her and her new family all the way."
Hope Edelman, author of Motherless Daughters


"Kate Hopper’s Ready for Air came to me at a moment in life when I needed her unabashed, beautiful description of this unmarked breathless territory: a birth plan gone awry. Hopper does not simply chronicle her experience as a new mother; she stakes a claim with her edgy and wise renderings of a woman admitting every limitation, from money to energy to health to hope. By sharing on the page what cannot be said aloud, Hopper’s gorgeous words make room for more real women in the nursery."
—Sonya Huber, author of Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir and Opa Nobody


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Listening to students—especially the most marginalized.





BY GILDA L. OCHOA
Professor of sociology and Chicana/o–Latina/o studies, Pomona College



Twenty years after I graduated from high school, I returned to a Southern California school as a researcher. On campus, the brick buildings, school bells, lunches, and overall rhythm of the day were familiar. So was the clustering of different students across campus, and for eighteen months I sat in on classes. I attended rallies, graduations, and meetings to learn more about these peer groups. I met with teachers and counselors, but most of my time was spent listening to students. Across from tables, gathered around benches, and sitting in circles, I asked them about their schooling, friendships, and future plans.

There was a sense of eagerness in our exchanges. Students wanted to help out with the research, have their voices heard, or simply have fun. They seemed to enjoy the break in the routine when they were excused from class to talk with me or with students from the Claremont Colleges. One sophomore even explained, “There’s a lot of propaganda going on covering the school. I want to puncture a hole and just let it out.” As I listened to students’ stories, I was reminded of the importance of creating spaces where students can share their experiences and thoughts.

In most educational debates, students’ voices are muted. Politicians, pundits, and the public talk at length about academic achievement gaps. New programs are instituted -- No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, Common Core, Smarter Balanced. These programs and the curriculum and tests that accompany them are marketed with the pretense that they are best for students, schools, and society. However, few politicians and other school reformers speak with those impacted on a daily basis by such top-down programs. Instead, students and teachers are evaluated quantitatively as though performances on standardized tests are meaningful indicators of all that occurs in schools. As I reveal in Academic Profiling, going inside our schools and listening to students is more telling.

“Smart and stupid -- they’re smart; we’re stupid.” These words rang loudly as I listened to students describe themselves and their schoolmates. Without prompting, characterizations such as these rolled off of their tongues. The frequency and ease by which many used such labels revealed the normalization of these descriptions. They are part of the campus culture permeating students’ experiences.

Like most U.S. schools, students at this Southern California high school are funneled through a system of curriculum tracking in which they are placed into advanced, honors, college prep, and vocational courses. Middle- and upper-middle-class students predominate in the more prestigious courses, while their poor and working-class schoolmates are largely absent. This system of tracking prepares students for unequal academic opportunities and life paths. It also fuels stereotypes about students’ intelligence.

This process of sorting and labeling students is compounded by policies stemming from the era of No Child Left Behind. Based on how students and whole schools perform on standardized tests, students are cast as “advanced,” “proficient,” “basic,” “below basic,” or “far below basic.” These categories and the tests used to determine them are believed to be fair and accurate measurements of students’ abilities. Thus, socio-economic inequalities and other disparities are overlooked, and the labeling of students sticks.

With the intensification of zero-tolerance policies in schools, Black and Latino boys are overrepresented in detentions, suspensions, and expulsions. Students at the Southern California high school recount such unequal policing in which middle-class Asian American students in the top academic classes describe getting a “free pass” while their working-class Latina/o and Black schoolmates face more questioning, restrictions, and punishment.

As a result of such experiences, many students urge: Don’t judge a book by its cover. They yearn for spaces where they are not profiled. These pleas reverberated across students’ stories, offering us crucial lessons. They inspired me to rethink the climates greeting students at the school gates and to ask what is lost when some students are forsaken as “stupid” and profiled, sorted, and steered away from their full potentials.

As a nation, we will all benefit by going back to school to listen to students – especially those who are the most marginalized. They have a keen understanding of what really needs changing within our schools precisely because they experience the consequences of our current practices every day.

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Gilda L. Ochoa is professor of sociology and Chicana/o–Latina/o studies at Pomona College. She is author of Academic Profiling: Latinos, Asian Americans, and the Achievement Gap; Becoming Neighbors in a Mexican American Community; and Learning from Latino Teachers, in addition to being coeditor of Latino Los Angeles.

"Remarkably provocative and perceptive, Academic Profiling is a meticulously researched and masterfully argued comparative study of how the system of schooling, contrary to the rhetoric of equal opportunities, re-enforces the achievement gap and reproduces disparities. With ethnographic insight and analytical precision, Gilda L. Ochoa details how immigration, racialization, class, and gender differentially impacts the educational trajectories for Asian and Latino students, and presents compelling lessons for transforming the context, culture, and process of learning."
—Linda Vo, University of California, Irvine

"In the absence of an all-encompassing social movement, Ochoa demonstrates how only a courageous, power-conscious, counter-hegemonic curriculum can act as a counterweight to divisive policies and practices like student tracking. Ochoa has done the important work of addressing the complexities of Latino/a and Asian American schooling in one community and given us a language, framework, and perspective with which to discuss and critique it."
—Angela Valenzuela, University of Texas, Austin



Thursday, September 5, 2013

Nationalist Heterosexuality and Migrants' (Il)Legal Status

The Irish asylum process in the early years of the millennium.


By Eithne Luibhéid
Associate professor of gender and women's studies at the University of Arizona


At the turn of the millennium, how did the general public come to believe that pregnancy might provide a visible sign that a woman was an undocumented migrant? And how did concerns about migrants’ pregnancies and childbearing become the basis for expanding laws and policies in ways that resulted in more migrants actually becoming classified by states as undocumented?

Inspired by these questions, Pregnant on Arrival explores the discursive construction of pregnant immigrants as paradigmatic figures of undocumented immigration; the legal and policy changes that were made in response; and the cultural, social, and economic consequences of these changes for both migrants and citizens. In the process, the book bridges the gap between scholarship on the social construction of the “illegal” immigrant and queer theories of sexual normalization, while extending each one.

Scholarship on the social construction of the “illegal” immigrant challenges the mainstream view that undocumented status reflects a migrant’s inherently undesirable character, and instead suggests that histories of colonialism, global capitalism, racism, and exclusionary nation-building significantly determine which immigrants become designated as documented or not. Yet the scholarship has been largely silent on how nationalist sexual regimes figure into these processes. Consequently, it is unable to explain how some immigrants become constructed as undocumented because they are pregnant.

This book turns to queer theory to understand how pregnancy, in particular, and sexuality in general, shapes nation-state regimes for designating immigrants’ legal status. Queer theory is particularly useful because it does not treat sexual identities as stable or transhistorical, but instead, explores the ongoing production of distinctions between normative and non-normative sexualities. Queer migration scholarship has challenged the tendency to ignore, erase, trivialize, or subsume questions about sexuality and migration within other rubrics (including gender, morality, deviance, and criminality), and has richly explored the experiences of gay, lesbian, transgender and queer migrants. Focusing on controversies over pregnant migrants, this book builds on queer migration scholarship, showing not only how pregnant migrants’ relationships to dominant sexual norms affect their possibilities for becoming designated as documented or not, but also how nation-state efforts to control pregnant migrants redefines those dominant norms.

The book’s chapters are linked through the argument that designations of migrants’ legal statuses are not fixed but shifting, including in response to changing social, cultural and economic conditions. Each chapter therefore critically examines how pregnancy and childbearing became a means for struggling over designations of migrants’ legal status, why the designations mattered, and for whom.

The book does not seek to resolve whether any migrants were “really” undocumented, nor to propose policy changes to assist in better policing against unauthorized migration. Instead, the book provides understanding of how migrant legal status categories emerge and change; the relations of power in which they are embedded; the centrality of sexual regimes to these processes; and how efforts to prevent unauthorized migration ultimately redefine nationalist sexual norms. The book also suggests that rather than viewing migrants as either victims needing “rescue” or cynical criminal spongers, they are heterogeneous people who variously participate in struggling over legal status possibilities, without their lives being reducible to these matters or to the inscriptions of the state.

Even as states use sexual logics--that (re)articulate geopolitical, economic, racial and gender hierarchies--to rework and often expand the grounds for designating numerous migrants as undocumented, these state policies do little to address the structural inequalities that drive global migration in the first place. Numerous scholarly and activist projects have proposed alternatives to violent global apartheid that is upheld by nation-state immigration controls. This book asks what possibilities might emerge if we were to centrally factor sexuality as an axis of power, struggle, and resistance into these alternative frameworks? Moreover, what if we were to address various struggles over migrant sexualities—including migrants’ childbearing, migrant same-sex partnerships, migrant sex work, migrant domestics negotiating sexual abuse and/or unplanned pregnancy, migrants with HIV/AIDS, and much more—not in isolation from one another, but as interlinked by heteronormative state immigration controls that produce multiple, interlocking, through not necessarily commensurate inequalities? As U.S. Congress debates comprehensive immigration reform, and what to do about the estimated 11 million undocumented people living within the territory, possibilities that truly address the needs of racialized, queered, impoverished people urgently demand to be acted upon.

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Eithne Luibhéid is author of Pregnant on Arrival: Making the Illegal Immigrant and Entry Denied: Controlling Sexuality at the Border. She is also co-editor of Queer Migrations: Sexuality, U.S. Citizenship, and Border Crossings. She is associate professor of gender and women's studies at the University of Arizona.

"Eithne Luibhéid exquisitely details how the Irish became embroiled in a politics over the sexuality and reproduction of mainly African refugees, leading to the controversial referendum denying birthright citizenship."
—Leo R. Chavez, author of The Latino Threat

"Pregnant on Arrival makes an enormous, essential contribution in demonstrating how women’s bodies and their sexuality become central to immigration controls."
—Monisha Das Gupta, author of Unruly Immigrants