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In this American Book Award-winning autobiography, Shirley Geok-lin Lim recalls her girlhood as part of a Chinese family in war-torn Malaysia, and her later life in the United States, where she moves from alienation as a dislocated Asian woman to a new sense of identity as an Asian-American woman. Lim's memoir explores colonialism, Chinese/Malaysian relations, and race relations in the US, as well as the intricacies of the academic life.
A Mother, Her Daughter, and their Stories
“Thirty-seven years ago, I vowed to write a truthful book about raising a deaf child.” Rebecca Willman Gernon followed through on her promise with her deaf daughter Amy Willman in this extraordinary new narrative. Many stories have been told about a parent’s struggle to help her deaf child succeed in a mostly hearing world. Amy Signs marks a signature departure in that both Rebecca and Amy relate their perspectives on their journey together. When she learns of 11-month-old Amy’s deafness in 1969, Rebecca fully expresses her anguish, and traces all of the difficulties she endured in trying to find the right educational environment for Amy. The sacrifices of the rest of her family weighed heavily on her, also. When she resolved to place four-year-old Amy in Nebraska’s residential school for deaf students, the emotional toll seemed too much to bear. Amy’s view acts as the perfect counterpoint. Interwoven with her mother’s story, Amy’s account confirms that signing served her best. She summarizes life in boarding school as “laughter and homesickness.” She laughed with all of her deaf friends, though felt homesick at times. Amy thanks her mother for the gift of sign, asserting that a mainstream education would never have led her to earn a master’s degree and later teach ASL at the University of Nebraska. Amy Signs is a positive albeit cautionary tale for parents of deaf children today whose only choice is a mainstreamed education.
Co-Parenting with the Foster Care System
One night after midnight social workers brought a baby girl to the author's home, and her life as a foster mother began. A social worker herself, Gerstenzang discovered that raising Cecilia, deespite all the personal joys, would be a complex and frustrating process of "co-parenting" with the foster care system in New York City. Foster parents are in great demand, but they are not necessarily treated well. We follow the author through the home visits, the Early Intervention evaluation, the WIC program that (with much bureaucratic hassle) provides free formula and cereal, and the mandatory parenting training sessions. She comments, "When Michael and I became foster parents, we learned how stigmatizing, demoralizing, and just plain inconvenient and time-consuming being part of the 'unentitled' population can be. With the exception of Early Intervention, we often felt that the programs were more concerned with regulating our behavior than with providing services."
Regular meetings with the birth family were also part of the process. Not only were they awkward for all concerned, but each visit involved a commute of several hours. One social worker admitted that she preferred a foster parent who didn't work because that person could more easily comply with the time-consuming regulations. Sarah and her husband Michael also agonize over complying with special regulations about hiring babysitters or traveling ("anytime we left New York State we needed to ask the agency's permission, which in turn had to get the signed consent from the birth mother").
Central to Another Mother is the issue of transracial placement. Sarah remembers, "That first day the contrast between my pale skin and Cecilia's brown skin seemed glaring. Not only did I feel that I had someone else's child, I felt that I had a child from another culture. Would I owe someone an explanation?" (Gerstenzang is recalling the 1972 opposition of the National Association of Black Social Workers.) Her account is full of anecdotes and reflections about race: acceptance and prejudice from others; the feelings of her two children about having a sibling of a different race; and culture keeping, beginning with skin and hair care.
Virtual Migration in Indian Call Centers
What happens over time to Indians who spend their working hours answering phone calls from Americans—and acting like Americans themselves? To find out, the authors of Answer the Call conducted long-term interviews with forty-five agents, trainers, managers, and CEOs at call centers in Bangalore and Mumbai from 2003 to 2012. For nine or ten hours every day, workers in call centers are not quite in India or America but rather in a state of “virtual migration.” Encouraged to steep themselves in American culture from afar, over time the agents come to internalize and indeed perform Americanness for Americans—and for each other.
Call center agents “migrate” through time and through the virtual spaces generated by voice and information sharing. Drawing from their rich interviews, the authors show that the virtual migration agents undergo has no geographically distant point of arrival, yet their perception of moving is not merely abstract. Over the duration of the job, agents’ sense of place and time changes: agents migrate but still remain, leaving them somewhere in between—between India and America, experience and imagination, class mobility and consumption, tradition and modernity, here and there, then and now, past and future.
However tangible and elastic their virtual mobility might seem in these relatively lucrative jobs, it is also suspended within the confines of the very boundaries they migrate across. Having engaged with these vivid and often poignant interviews, readers will never again be indifferent to an Indian agent’s greeting at the other end of a toll-free call: “Hello, my name is Roxanne. How may I help you?”
Anti-Americanism has been the subject of much commentary but little serious research. In response, Peter J. Katzenstein and Robert O. Keohane have assembled a distinguished group of experts, including historians, polling-data analysts, political scientists, anthropologists, and sociologists, to explore anti-Americanism in depth, using both qualitative and quantitative methods. The result is a book that probes deeply a central aspect of world politics that is frequently noted yet rarely understood.
Katzenstein and Keohane identify several quite different anti-Americanisms-liberal, social, sovereign-nationalist, and radical. Some forms of anti-Americanism respond merely to what the United States does, and could change when U.S. policies change. Other forms are reactions to what the United States is, and involve greater bias and distrust. The complexity of anti-Americanism, they argue, reflects the cultural and political complexities of American society. The analysis in this book leads to a surprising discovery: there are as many ways to be anti-American as there are ways to be American.
Migration and Tourism in the Indonesian Borderlands
Since the late 1960s the Indonesian island of Batam has been transformed from a sleepy fishing village to a booming frontier town, where foreign investment, mostly from neighboring Singapore, converges with inexpensive land and labor. Indonesian female migrants dominate the island’s economic landscape both as factory workers and as prostitutes servicing working class tourists from Singapore. Indonesians also move across the border in search of work in Malaysia and Singapore as plantation and construction workers or maids. Export processing zones such as Batam are both celebrated and vilified in contemporary debates on economic globalization. The Anxieties of Mobility moves beyond these dichotomies to explore the experiences of migrants and tourists who pass through Batam. Johan Lindquist’s extensive fieldwork allows him to portray globalization in terms of relationships that bind individuals together over long distances rather than as a series of impersonal economic transactions. He offers a unique ethnographic perspective, drawing together the worlds of factory workers and prostitutes, migrants and tourists, and creating a compelling account of everyday life in a borderland characterized by dramatic capitalist expansion. The book uses three Indonesian concepts (merantau, malu, liar) to shed light on the mobility of migrants and tourists on Batam. The first refers to a person’s relationship with home while in the process of migration. The second signifies the shame or embarrassment felt when one is between accepted roles and emotional states. The third, liar, literally means "wild" and is used to identify those who are out of place, notably squatters, couples in premarital cohabitation, and prostitutes without pimps. These sometimes overlapping concepts allow the book to move across geographical and metaphorical boundaries and between various economies.
Stickups and Street Culture
One of the most feared crimes among urban dwellers, armed robbery poses a serious risk of injury or death, and presents daunting challenges for law enforcement. Yet little is known about the complex factors that motivate assailants who use a weapon to take property by force or threat of force.
Armed Robbers in Action is not like previous studies that focus on the often distorted accounts of incarcerated offenders. Richard T. Wright and Scott H. Decker conducted dangerous, life-threatening field research on the streets of St. Louis to obtain more forthright responses from robbers about their motives and methods. They also visited several crime scenes to examine how situational and spatial features of the setting contributed to the offense. Quoting extensively from their conversations with the offenders, the authors consider the circumstances underlying the decision to commit an armed robbery, explore how and why targets are chosen, and detail the various tactics used in a hold-up.
By analyzing the criminals' candid perspectives on their actions and their social environment, the authors provide a fuller understanding of armed robbery. They conclude with an insightful discussion of the implications of their findings for crime prevention policy.