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Family Activism

Immigrant Struggles and the Politics of Noncitizenship

Amalia Pallares

During the past ten years, legal and political changes in the United States have dramatically altered the legalization process for millions of undocumented immigrants and their families. Faced with fewer legalization options, immigrants without legal status and their supporters have organized around the concept of the family as a political subject—a political subject with its rights violated by immigration laws. 


Drawing upon the idea of the “impossible activism” of undocumented immigrants, Amalia Pallares argues that those without legal status defy this “impossible” context by relying on the politicization of the family to challenge justice within contemporary immigration law. The culmination of a seven-year-long ethnography of undocumented immigrants and their families in Chicago, as well as national immigrant politics,Family Activism examines the three ways in which the family has become politically significant: as a political subject, as a frame for immigrant rights activism, and as a symbol of racial subordination and resistance. 

By analyzing grassroots campaigns, churches and interfaith coalitions, immigrant rights movements, and immigration legislation, Pallares challenges the traditional familial idea, ultimately reframing the family as a site of political struggle and as a basis for mobilization in immigrant communities.  

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Farm Worker Futurism

Speculative Technologies of Resistance

Curtis Marez

When we think of literature and film about farm workers, The Grapes of Wrath may come to mind, but Farm Worker Futurism reveals that the historical role of technology, especially new media, has in fact had much more to do with depicting the lives of farm laborers—Mexican migrants in particular—in the United States. From the late 1940s, when Ernesto Galarza led a strike in the San Joaquin Valley, to the early 1990s, when the United Farm Workers (UFW) helped organize a fast in solidarity with janitors at Apple Computers in the Santa Clara Valley, this book explores the friction between agribusiness and farm workers through the lens of visual culture.

Marez looks at how the appropriation of photography, film, video, and other media technologies expressed a “farm worker futurism,” a set of farm worker social formations that faced off against corporate capitalism and government policies. In addition to drawing fascinating links between the worlds envisioned in UFW videos on the one hand and visions of Cold War geopolitics on the other, he demonstrates how union cameras and computer screens put the farm worker movement in dialogue with futurist thinking and speculative fictions of all sorts, including the films of George Lucas and the art of Ester Hernandez. Finally Marez examines the legacy of farm worker futurism in recent cinema and literature, contemporary struggles for immigrant rights, management–labor conflicts in computer hardware production, and the antiprison movement.

In contrast with cultural histories of technology that take a top-down perspective, Farm Worker Futurism tells the story from below, showing how working-class people of color have often been early adopters and imaginative users of new media. In doing so, it presents a completely novel analysis of speculative fiction’s engagements with the farm worker movement in ways that illuminate both.


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Fighting Their Own Battles

Mexican Americans, African Americans, and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Texas

Brian D. Behnken

This book compares the African American and Mexican American civil rights movements in Texas. Between 1940 and 1970, both groups fought a number of battles in court, at the ballot box, in schools, and on the streets to eliminate segregation and state-imposed racism. African Americans and Mexican Americans both won many victories during the civil rights era in the Southwest, and yet the groups were rarely unified. Rather, two parallel civil rights movements were occurring simultaneously. Behnken argues that prejudice from both sides greatly diminished the potential of a united civil rights campaign. African American groups discounted Mexican Americans' initial attempts to argue for status as white people, a strategy that Chicanos later abandoned in the 1960s. African Americans interpreted this move from desiring white identity to propounding the radical Chicano movement as an attempt to join in on the success of the black freedom struggle of the 1960s. The work is essentially about race and racism and about the history of whiteness and brownness in America and the relationship of both to blackness. The legal victories, political campaigns, and protests shape and inform Behnken's story of these two movements.

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Fleshing the Spirit

Spirituality and Activism in Chicana, Latina, and Indigenous Women’s Lives

Edited by Elisa Facio and Irene Lara

Fleshing the Spirit brings together established and new writers exploring the relationships between the physical body, the spirit and spirituality, and social justice activism. Examining the complex and dynamic connections among these concepts, the writers emphasize the value of “flesh and blood experience” as a site of knowledge. They argue that spirituality—something quite different from institutional religious practice—can heal the mind/body split and set the stage for social change. Spirituality, they argue, is a necessary component of an alternative political agenda focused on equitable social and ecological change.

The anthology incorporates different genres of writing—such as poetry, testimonials, critical essays, and historical analysis—and stimulates the reader to engage spirituality in a critical, personal, and creative way. This interdisciplinary work is the first that attempts to theorize the radical interconnection between women of color, spirituality, and social activism. Before transformative political work can be done, the authors say in multiple ways, we must recognize that our spiritual need is a desire to more fully understand our relations with others. Conflict experienced on many levels sometimes severs those relations, separating us from others along racial, class, gender, sexual, national, or other socially constructed lines.

Fleshing the Spirit offers a spiritual journey of healing, health, and human revolution. The book’s open invitation to engage in critical dialogue and social activism—with the spirit and spirituality at the forefront—illuminates the way to social change and the ability to live in harmony with life’s universal energies.

Contributors

Volume Editors
Elisa Facio
Irene Lara
 
Chapter Authors
Angelita Borbón
Norma E. Cantú
Berenice Dimas
C. Alejandra Elenes
Alicia Enciso Litschi
Oliva M. Espín
Maria Figueroa
Patrisia Gonzales
Inés Hernández- Avila
Rosa María Hernández Juárez
Cinthya Martinez
Lara Medina
Felicia Montes
Sarahi Nuñez- Mejia
Laura E. Pérez
Brenda Sendejo
Inés Talamantez
Michelle Téllez
Beatriz Villegas

 

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Fray Angélico Chávez

Poet, Priest, and Artist

New Mexico's first Franciscan priest, Fray Angélico Cheavez (1910-1996) is known as a prolific historian, a literary and artistic figure, and an intellectual who played a vital role in Santa Fe's community of writers. The original essays collected here explore his wide-ranging cultural production: fiction, poetry, architectural restoration, journalism, genealogy, translation, and painting and drawing. Several essays discuss his approach to history, his archival research, and the way in which he re-centers ethnic identity in the prevalent Anglo-American master historical narrative. Others examine how he used fiction to bring history alive and combined visual and verbal elements to enhance his narratives. Two essays explore Chávez's profession as a friar. The collection ends with recollections by Thomas E. Chávez, historian and Fray Angélico's nephew. <br /> <br />Readers familiar with Chávez's work as well as those learning about it for the first time will find much that surprises and informs in these essays.

Part of the Pasó por Aquí Series on the Nuevomexicano Literary Heritage

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Friday Night Fighter

Gaspar "Indio" Ortega and the Golden Age of Television Boxing

Troy Rondinone

Friday Night Fighter relives a lost moment in American postwar history, when boxing ruled as one of the nation's most widely televised sports. During the 1950s and 1960s, viewers tuned in weekly, sometimes even daily, to watch widely-recognized fighters engage in primordial battle, with the Gillette Cavalcade of Sports Friday Night Fights being the most popular fight show. Troy Rondinone follows the dual narratives of the Friday Night Fights show and the individual story of Gaspar "Indio" Ortega, a boxer who appeared on primetime network television more than almost any other boxer in history. From humble beginnings growing up poor in Tijuana, Mexico, Ortega personified the phenomenon of postwar boxing at its greatest, appearing before audiences of millions to battle the biggest names of the time, such as Carmen Basilio, Tony DeMarco, Chico Vejar, Benny "Kid" Paret, Emile Griffith, Kid Gavilan, Florentino Fernandez, and Luis Manuel Rodriguez. Rondinone explores the factors contributing to the success of televised boxing, including the rise of television entertainment, the role of a "reality" blood sport, Cold War masculinity, changing attitudes toward race in America, and the influence of organized crime. At times evoking the drama and spectacle of the Friday Night Fights themselves, this volume is a lively examination of a time in history when Americans crowded around their sets to watch the main event.

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From South Texas to the Nation

The Exploitation of Mexican Labor in the Twentieth Century

John Weber

In the early years of the twentieth century, newcomer farmers and migrant Mexicans forged a new world in South Texas. In just a decade, this vast region, previously considered too isolated and desolate for large-scale agriculture, became one of the United States' most lucrative farming regions and one of its worst places to work. By encouraging mass migration from Mexico, paying low wages, selectively enforcing immigration restrictions, toppling older political arrangements, and periodically immobilizing the workforce, growers created a system of labor controls unique in its levels of exploitation.

Ethnic Mexican residents of South Texas fought back by organizing and by leaving, migrating to destinations around the United States where employers eagerly hired them--and continued to exploit them. In From South Texas to the Nation, John Weber reinterprets the United States' record on human and labor rights. This important book illuminates the way in which South Texas pioneered the low-wage, insecure, migration-dependent labor system on which so many industries continue to depend.

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From the Barrio to Washington

An Educator's Journey

Armando Rodriguez as told to Keith Taylor

Rodriguez recalls his inspirational journey from a short child who was so dark he was nicknamed "Shadow" to being influential in shaping education on district, state, and national levels. Some still call him Shadow, though it is now spoken with respect and admiration for an immigrant who overcame many obstacles to become an instrument of change for his country.

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From the Edge

Chicana/o Border Literature and the Politics of Print

Allison E. Fagan

Chicana/o literature frequently depicts characters who exist in a vulnerable liminal space, living on the border between Mexican and American identities, and sometimes pushed to the edge by authorities who seek to restrict their freedom.  As this groundbreaking new study reveals, the books themselves have occupied similarly precarious positions, as Chicana/o literature has struggled for economic viability and visibility on the margins of the American publishing industry, while Chicana/o writers have grappled with editorial practices that compromise their creative autonomy. 
 
From the Edge reveals the tangled textual histories behind some of the most cherished works in the Chicana/o literary canon, tracing the negotiations between authors, editors, and publishers that determined how these books appeared in print. Allison Fagan demonstrates how the texts surrounding the authors’ words—from editorial prefaces to Spanish-language glossaries, from cover illustrations to reviewers’ blurbs—have crucially shaped the reception of Chicana/o literature. To gain an even richer perspective on the politics of print, she ultimately explores one more border space, studying the marks and remarks that readers have left in the margins of these books. 
 
From the Edge vividly demonstrates that to comprehend fully the roles that ethnicity, language, class, and gender play within Chicana/o literature, we must understand the material conditions that governed the production, publication, and reception of these works. By teaching us how to read the borders of the text, it demonstrates how we might perceive and preserve the faint traces of those on the margins. 
 

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Fulgencio Batista

Volume I, The Making of a Dictator, vol. 1

Frank Argote-Freyre

Pawn of the U.S. government. Right-hand man to the mob. Iron-fisted dictator. For decades, public understanding of the pre-Revolutionary Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista has been limited to these stereotypes, which barely scratch the surface of the complex and compelling career of this important political figure.

            Second only to Fidel Castro, Batista is the most controversial leader in modern Cuban history. And yet, until now, there has been no objective biography written about him. Existing biographical literature either borders on hero worship or launches a series of attacks aimed at rejecting his entire legacy.

            In this book, the first of two volumes, Frank Argote-Freyre provides a full and balanced portrait of this historically shadowed figure. Drawing on an extensive review of Cuban newspapers, government records, memos, oral history interviews, and a selection of Batista’s personal documents, Argote-Freyre moves beyond simplistic caricatures to uncover the real man—one with strengths and weaknesses and with a career marked by accomplishments as well as failures. 

            This volume focuses on Batista’s role as a revolutionary leader and his image as a “strongman” in the years between 1933 and 1939.  Through his study of Batista, the author is able to review an entire era that is frequently ignored by scholars—the Republican period of Cuban history. Bringing together global and local events, he considers the significance and relationship of the worldwide economic depression, the beginnings of World War II, the Cuban Revolution of 1933, the expansion of the Cuban middle class, and the nation’s gradual development of democratic institutions.

Fulgencio Batista and most of Cuba’s past prior to the Revolution of 1959 has been lost in the historical mists.  Cuba had a rich and fascinating history before the Marxist Revolution and the reign of Fidel Castro. This captivating and long-overdue book uncovers it.

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