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Prisons, Borders, and Global Crisis
Rhetorics of Borders, Citizenship, and Latina/o Identity
Citizenship and Identity on the US-Mexico Frontier
A “border” is a powerful and versatile concept, variously invoked as the delineation of geographical territories, as a judicial marker of citizenship, and as an ideological trope for defining inclusion and exclusion. It has implications for both the empowerment and subjugation of any given populace. Both real and imagined, the border separates a zone of physical and symbolic exchange whose geographical, political, economic, and cultural interactions bear profoundly on popular understandings and experiences of citizenship and identity.
The border’s rhetorical significance is nowhere more apparent, nor its effects more concentrated, than on the frontier between the United States and Mexico. Often understood as an unruly boundary in dire need of containment from the ravages of criminals, illegal aliens, and other undesirable threats to the national body, this geopolitical locus exemplifies how normative constructions of “proper” border relations reinforce definitions of US citizenship, which in turn can lead to anxiety, unrest, and violence centered around the struggle to define what it means to be a member of a national political community.
Nature and Anti-immigrant Politics in America
How is it that self-identified environmental progressives in America can oppose liberalizing immigration policies? Environmentalism is generally assumed to be a commitment of the political left and restrictionism a commitment of the right. As John Hultgren shows, the reality is significantly more complicated. American environmentalists have supported immigration restrictions since the movement first began in the late 1800s, and anti-immigration arguments continue to attract vocal adherents among contemporary mainstream and radical “greens.”
Border Walls Gone Green seeks to explain these seemingly paradoxical commitments by examining what is actually going on in American debates over the environmental impacts of immigration. It makes the case that nature is increasingly being deployed as a form of “walling”—which enables restrictionists to subtly fortify territorial boundaries and identities without having to revert to cultural and racial logics that are unpalatable to the political left. From an environmental point of view, the location of borders makes little sense; the Mexican landscape near most border crossings looks exactly like the landscape on the American side. And the belief that immigrants are somehow using up the nation’s natural resources and thereby accelerating the degradation of the environment simply does not hold up to scrutiny. So, Hultgren finds, the well-intentioned efforts of environmentalists to “sustain” America are also sustaining the idea of the nation-state and in fact serving to reinforce exclusionary forms of political community.
How, then, should socially conscious environmentalists proceed? Hultgren demonstrates that close attention to the realities of transnational migration can lead to a different brand of socio-ecological activism—one that could be our only chance to effectively confront the powerful forces producing ecological devastation and social injustice.
Where Wealth and Poverty Collide
Hidden Geographies and Politics at Territory’s Edge
Connecting critical issues of state sovereignty with empirical concerns, Borderscapes interrogates the limits of political space. The essays in this volume analyze everyday procedures, such as the classifying of migrants and refugees, security in European and American detention centers, and the DNA sampling of migrants in Thailand, showing the border as a moral construct rich with panic, danger, and patriotism.
Conceptualizing such places as immigration detention camps and refugee camps as areas of political contestation, this work forcefully argues that borders and migration are, ultimately, inextricable from questions of justice and its limits.
Contributors: Didier Bigo, Institut d’Études Politiques, Paris; Karin Dean; Elspeth Guild, U of Nijmegen; Emma Haddad; Alexander Horstmann, U of Münster; Alice M. Nah, National U of Singapore; Suvendrini Perera, Curtin U of Technology, Australia; James D. Sidaway, U of Plymouth, UK; Nevzat Soguk, U of Hawai‘i; Decha Tangseefa, Thammasat U, Bangkok; Mika Toyota, National U of Singapore.
Prem Kumar Rajaram is assistant professor of sociology and social anthropology at the Central European University, Budapest, Hungary.
Carl Grundy-Warr is senior lecturer of geography at the National University of Singapore.
Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy
Many of America's greatest artists, scientists, investors, educators, and entrepreneurs have come from abroad. Rather than suffering from the "brain drain" of talented and educated individuals emigrating, the United States has benefited greatly over the years from the "brain gain" of immigration. These gifted immigrants have engineered advances in energy, information technology, international commerce, sports, arts, and culture. To stay competitive, the United States must institute more of an open-door policy to attract unique talents from other nations. Yet Americans resist such a policy despite their own immigrant histories and the substantial social, economic, intellectual, and cultural benefits of welcoming newcomers. Why?
In Brain Gain, Darrell West asserts that perception or "vision" is one reason reform in immigration policy is so politically difficult. Public discourse tends to emphasize the perceived negatives. Fear too often trumps optimism and reason. And democracy is messy, with policy principles that are often difficult to reconcile.
The seeming irrationality of U.S. immigration policy arises from a variety of thorny and interrelated factors: particularistic politics and fragmented institutions, public concern regarding education and employment, anger over taxes and social services, and ambivalence about national identity, culture, and language. Add to that stew a myopic (or worse) press, persistent fears of terrorism, and the difficulties of implementing border enforcement and legal justice.
West prescribes a series of reforms that will put America on a better course and enhance its long-term social and economic prosperity. Reconceptualizing immigration as a way to enhance innovation and competitiveness, the author notes, will help us find the next Sergey Brin, the next Andrew Grove, or even the next Albert Einstein.
Letters from Jewish Migrants in the Early Twentieth Century
Between 1875 and 1924, more than 2.7 million Jews from Eastern Europe left their home countries in the hopes of escaping economic subjugation and religious persecution and creating better lives overseas. Although many studies have addressed how these millions of men, women, and children were absorbed into their destination countries, very little has been written on the process of deciding to migrate. In Bread to Eat and Clothes to Wear: Letters from Jewish Migrants in the Early Twentieth Century, author Gur Alroey fills this gap by considering letters written by Eastern European Jews embarking on their migration. Alroey begins with a comprehensive introduction that describes the extent and unique characteristics of Jewish migration during this period, discusses the establishment of immigrant information bureaus, and analyzes some of the specific aspects of migration that are reflected in the letters. In the second part of the book, Alroey translates and annotates 66 letters from Eastern European Jews considering migration. From the letters, readers learn firsthand of the migrants’ fear of making a decision; their desire for advice and information before they took the fateful step; the gnawing anxiety of women whose husbands had already sailed for America and who were waiting impatiently for a ticket to join them; women whose husbands had disappeared in America and had broken off contact with their families; pogroms (documented in real time); and the obstacles and hardships on the way to the port of exit, as described by people who had already set out. Through the letters in Bread to Eat and Clothes to Wear readers will follow the dilemmas and predicaments of the ordinary Jewish migrant, the difficulties of migration, and the changes that it brought about within the Jewish family. Scholars of Jewish studies and those interested in American and European history will appreciate this landmark volume.
ICTs Appropriation by Cameroonians in South Africa and The Netherlands
This is a study on the creative appropriation of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) by mobile Africans and the communities to which they belong, home and away. With a focus on Cameroonian migrants from Pinyin and Mankon who are currently living in Cape Town and the Netherlands, this book examines the workings of the social fabric of mobile communities. It sheds light on how these communities are crafting lives for themselves in the host country and simultaneously linking up with the home country thanks to advances in ICTs and road and air transport. ICTs and mobilities have complemented social relational interaction and provide migrants today with opportunities to partake in cultural practices that express their Pinyin-ness and Mankon-ness. Pinyin and Mankon migrants are still as rooted in the past as they are in the present. They were born into a community with its own sense of home, moral ethos and cultural pride but live in a context of accelerated ICTs and mobility that is fast changing the way they live their lives. Drawing on this detailed ethnographic case study and related literature, Henrietta Nyamnjoh argues that while ICTs continue to enhance mobility for those who move and for those who stay put, they have become inextricably linked in forging networks and reconfiguring existing ones. Contrary to earlier studies that predicted radical social change and the passing of traditional societies in the face of new technologies, ICTs have been appropriated to enhance the workings of existing social relations and ways of life while simultaneously pointing to new directions in ever more creative and innovative ways.
Transatlantic Perspectives on Immigrant Political Incorporation
For immigrants, politics can play a significant role in determining whether and how they assimilate. In Bringing Outsiders In, leading social scientists present individual cases and work toward a comparative synthesis of how immigrants affect-and are affected by-civic life on both sides of the Atlantic. Just as in the United States, large immigrant minority communities have been emerging across Europe. While these communities usually make up less than one-tenth of national populations, they typically have a large presence in urban areas, sometimes approaching a majority.
That immigrants can have an even greater political salience than their population might suggest has been demonstrated in recent years in places as diverse as Sweden and France. Attending to how local and national states encourage or discourage political participation, the authors assess the relative involvement of immigrants in a wide range of settings. Jennifer Hochschild and John Mollenkopf provide a context for the particular cases and comparisons and draw a set of analytic and empirical conclusions regarding incorporation.