American Crossroads

Published by: University of California Press

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American Crossroads

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Abrazando el Espíritu

Bracero Families Confront the US-Mexico Border

Dr. Ana Elizabeth Rosas

Structured to meet the needs of employers for low-wage farm workers, the well-known Bracero Program recruited thousands of Mexicans to perform physical labor in the United States between 1942 and 1964 in exchange for remittances that were sent back to Mexico. The Bracero Program transformed interpersonal relationships by dispersing partners and family members across national borders. Mexican workers, mostly men, were away from their families for long periods of time, while women and children at home were forced to inhabit new roles, create new identities, and cope with long-distance communication from fathers, brothers, and sons.

Drawing on an extraordinary range of sources, Rosas uncovers a previously hidden history of transnational family life. Intimate and personal experiences and their emotional contours are revealed to show how Mexican immigrants and their families were not passive victims, but creators of new forms of affection, gender roles, and economic survival strategies with long-term consequences.

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Colored White

Transcending the Racial Past

David Roediger

David R. Roediger's powerful book argues that in its political workings, its distribution of advantages, and its unspoken assumptions, the United States is a "still white" nation. Race is decidedly not over. The critical portraits of contemporary icons that lead off the book--Rush Limbaugh, Bill Clinton, O.J. Simpson, and Rudolph Giuliani--insist that continuities in white power and white identity are best understood by placing the recent past in historical context. Roediger illuminates that history in an incisive critique of the current scholarship on whiteness and an account of race-transcending radicalism exemplified by vanguards such as W.E.B. Du Bois and John Brown. He shows that, for all of its staying power, white supremacy in the United States has always been a pursuit rather than a completed project, that divisions among whites have mattered greatly, and that "nonwhite" alternatives have profoundly challenged the status quo.

Colored White reasons that, because race is a matter of culture and politics, racial oppression will not be solved by intermarriage or demographic shifts, but rather by political struggles that transform the meaning of race--especially its links to social and economic inequality. This landmark work considers the ways that changes in immigration patterns, the labor force, popular culture, and social movements make it possible--though far from inevitable--that the United States might overcome white supremacy in the twenty-first century. Roediger's clear, lively prose and his extraordinary command of the literature make this one of the most original and generative contributions to the study of race and ethnicity in the United States in many decades.

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Covert Capital

Landscapes of Denial and the Making of U.S. Empire in the Suburbs of Northern Virginia

Andrew Friedman

The capital of the U.S. Empire after World War II was not a city. It was an American suburb. In this innovative and timely history, Andrew Friedman chronicles how the CIA and other national security institutions created a U.S. imperial home front in the suburbs of Northern Virginia. In this covert capital, the suburban landscape provided a cover for the workings of U.S. imperial power, which shaped domestic suburban life. The Pentagon and the CIA built two of the largest office buildings in the country there during and after the war that anchored a new imperial culture and social world.

As the U.S. expanded its power abroad by developing roads, embassies, and villages, its subjects also arrived in the covert capital as real estate agents, homeowners, builders, and landscapers who constructed spaces and living monuments that both nurtured and critiqued postwar U.S. foreign policy. Tracing the relationships among American agents and the migrants from Vietnam, El Salvador, Iran, and elsewhere who settled in the southwestern suburbs of D.C., Friedman tells the story of a place that recasts ideas about U.S. immigration, citizenship, nationalism, global interconnection, and ethical responsibility from the post-WW2 period to the present. Opening a new window onto the intertwined history of the American suburbs and U.S. foreign policy, Covert Capital will also give readers a broad interdisciplinary and often surprising understanding of how U.S. domestic and global histories intersect in many contexts and at many scales.

American Crossroads, 37



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Cultural Moves

African Americans and the Politics of Representation

Herman Gray

Herman Gray takes a sweeping look at black popular culture over the past decade to explore culture's role in the push for black political power and social recognition. In a series of linked essays, he finds that black artists, scholars, musicians, and others have been instrumental in reconfiguring social and cultural life in the United States and he provocatively asks how black culture can now move beyond a preoccupation with inclusion and representation.

Gray considers how Wynton Marsalis and his creation of a jazz canon at Lincoln Center acted to establish cultural visibility and legitimacy for jazz. Other essays address such topics as the work of the controversial artist Kara Walker; the relentless struggles for representation on network television when those networks are no longer the primary site of black or any other identity; and how black musicians such as Steve Coleman and George Lewis are using new technology to shape and extend black musical traditions and cultural identities.

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Guantánamo

A Working-Class History between Empire and Revolution

Jana Lipman

Guantánamo has become a symbol of what has gone wrong in the War on Terror. Yet Guantánamo is more than a U.S. naval base and prison in Cuba, it is a town, and our military occupation there has required more than soldiers and sailors—it has required workers. This revealing history of the women and men who worked on the U.S. naval base in Guantánamo Bay tells the story of U.S.-Cuban relations from a new perspective, and at the same time, shows how neocolonialism, empire, and revolution transformed the lives of everyday people. Drawing from rich oral histories and little-explored Cuban archives, Jana K. Lipman analyzes how the Cold War and the Cuban revolution made the naval base a place devoid of law and accountability. The result is a narrative filled with danger, intrigue, and exploitation throughout the twentieth century. Opening a new window onto the history of U.S. imperialism in the Caribbean and labor history in the region, her book tells how events in Guantánamo and the base created an ominous precedent likely to inform the functioning of U.S. military bases around the world.

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Incarcerating the Crisis

Freedom Struggles and the Rise of the Neoliberal State

Jordan T. Camp

The United States currently has the largest prison population on the planet. Over the last four decades, structural unemployment, concentrated urban poverty, and mass homelessness have also become permanent features of the political economy. These developments are without historical precedent, but not without historical explanation. In this searing critique, Jordan T. Camp traces the rise of the neoliberal carceral state through a series of turning points in U.S. history including the Watts insurrection in 1965, the Detroit rebellion in 1967, the Attica uprising in 1971, the Los Angeles revolt in 1992, and events in post-Katrina New Orleans in 2005. Incarcerating the Crisis argues that these dramatic events coincided with the emergence of neoliberal capitalism and the state’s attempts to crush radical social movements. Through an examination of the poetic visions of social movements—including those by James Baldwin, Marvin Gaye, June Jordan, José Ramírez, and Sunni Patterson—it also suggests that alternative outcomes have been and continue to be possible. 

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meXicana Encounters

The Making of Social Identities on the Borderlands

Rosa Linda Fregoso

meXicana Encounters charts the dynamic and contradictory representation of Mexicanas and Chicanas in culture. Rosa Linda Fregoso's deft analysis of the cultural practices and symbolic forms that shape social identities takes her across a wide and varied terrain. Among the subjects she considers are the recent murders and disappearances of women in Ciudad Juárez; transborder feminist texts that deal with private, domestic forms of violence; how films like John Sayles's Lone Star re-center white masculinity; and the significance of la familia to the identity of Chicanas/os and how it can subordinate gender and sexuality to masculinity and heterosexual roles. Fregoso's self-reflexive approach to cultural politics embraces the movement for social justice and offers new insights into the ways that racial and gender differences are inscribed in cultural practices.

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The Nicest Kids in Town

American Bandstand, Rock 'n' Roll, and the Struggle for Civil Rights in 1950s Philadelphia

Matthew F. Delmont

American Bandstand, one of the most popular television shows ever, broadcast from Philadelphia in the late fifties, a time when that city had become a battleground for civil rights. Counter to host Dick Clark’s claims that he integrated American Bandstand, this book reveals how the first national television program directed at teens discriminated against black youth during its early years and how black teens and civil rights advocates protested this discrimination. Matthew F. Delmont brings together major themes in American history—civil rights, rock and roll, television, and the emergence of a youth culture—as he tells how white families around American Bandstand’s studio mobilized to maintain all-white neighborhoods and how local school officials reinforced segregation long after Brown vs. Board of Education. The Nicest Kids in Town powerfully illustrates how national issues and history have their roots in local situations, and how nostalgic representations of the past, like the musical film Hairspray, based on the American Bandstand era, can work as impediments to progress in the present.

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Pacific Connections

The Making of the U.S.-Canadian Borderlands

Kornel Chang

In the late nineteenth century the borderlands between the United States, the British Empire in Canada, and the Asia-Pacific Rim emerged as a crossroads of the Pacific world. In Pacific Connections, Kornel Chang tells the dramatic stories of the laborers, merchants, smugglers, and activists who crossed these borders into the twentieth century, and the American and British empire-builders who countered them by hardening racial and national lines. But even as settler societies attempted to control the processes of imperial integration, their project fractured under its contradictions. Migrant workers and radical activists pursued a transnational politics through the very networks that made empire possible. Charting the U.S.-Canadian borderlands from above and below, Pacific Connections reveals the messiness of imperial formation and the struggles it spawned from multiple locations and through different actors across the Pacific world.

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Proud to Be an Okie

Cultural Politics, Country Music, and Migration to Southern California

Peter La Chapelle

Proud to Be an Okie brings to life the influential country music scene that flourished in and around Los Angeles from the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s to the early 1970s. The first work to fully illuminate the political and cultural aspects of this intriguing story, the book takes us from Woody Guthrie's radical hillbilly show on Depression-era radio to Merle Haggard's "Okie from Muskogee" in the late 1960s. It explores how these migrant musicians and their audiences came to gain a sense of identity through music and mass media, to embrace the New Deal, and to celebrate African American and Mexican American musical influences before turning toward a more conservative outlook. What emerges is a clear picture of how important Southern California was to country music and how country music helped shape the politics and culture of Southern California and of the nation.

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