Studying Religion in the Age of Trump

This post is adapted from the introduction to a special Forum, Studying Religion in the Age of Trump, published in the Winter 2017 issue of Religion and American Culture. Enjoy free access to the Forum until March 10, 2017. For more RAC content, become an individual subscriber or ask your library to subscribe on your behalf.

There are many ways to interpret the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. From appeals to anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiments to attacks on the establishment and political correctness, alongside more traditional topics like abortion, religious freedom, and ethics, enough subterranean shifts occurred to flip some states red and elect a populist president.

What role did religion in play in these events? How might this election cause us to rethink some seemingly settled conclusions about religion and politics, religion and race, and religion and gender, among other topics? Finally, what might we learn from the election of 2016 that will alter our questions and further our work over the next several years?

To consider these essential questions and implications, the editors of Religion and American Culture invited prominent scholars across multiple disciplines to share their perspectives via brief essays or “thought pieces.” All of them have published on subjects that have helped us understand different aspects of religion and American culture in ways that shed light on the nature of religion in politics and public life.

Now, more than ever, is an appropriate moment for us to look back at how we arrived at previous conclusions, question which interpretations might suitably be shaken up, and consider where our fields might fruitfully go in the coming years. The scholars and pieces featured in the Special Forum include:

The Redoubt of Racism: The 2016 Presidential Campaign, the Origins of the Religious Right, and Why It Matters
Randall Balmer
Professor of Religion, Dartmouth College

 The Prosperity Gospel and the American Presidency
Kate Bowler
Assistant Professor of the History of Christianity in North America, Duke University

Redefining Evangelicalism in the Age of Trumpism
Anthea Butler
Associate Professor of Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania

An American Contrareformatio
Maura Jane Farrelly
Associate Professor of American Studies, Brandeis University

Return of the Monolith? Understanding the White Evangelical Trump Vote
Wes Markofski
Assistant Professor of Sociology, Carleton College

The Hidden Injuries of Class and Religion
Robert Orsi
Professor of Religion, Northwestern University

Reckoning with American White Christian(ist) Patriarchalism and Multicultural Liberalism
Jerry Z. Park and James Clark Davidson
Associate Professor of Sociology, and Graduate Assistant in Sociology of Religion, Baylor University

The Trump Victory and American Evangelicalism
Matthew Sutton
Professor of History, Washington State University

Priorities in Immigration
Grace Yukich
Assistant Professor of Sociology, Quinnipiac University

The Vote is Still Out on the Electoral College

Electors.ElectoralCollege.Jouet.ExceptionalAmericaDespite many concerns about how the Electoral College will vote, as of right now, Donald Trump continues to close in on the 270 votes needed to win the Electoral College. No Trump defections have been seen just yet, even though some “faithless electors” have shown their willingness to provide a different vote than expected by their state.

The usefulness of the Electoral College has been discussed for quite some time—in 1969 due to American Independent Party’s George Wallace and his support of segregation to most recently (before this November’s presidential election, that is) for the presidential election of 2000.

Mugambi Jouet, author of Exceptional America: What Divides Americans from the World and from Each Other (forthcoming April 2017), writes:

Jouet.ExceptionalAmericaThe Electoral College further hinders democracy. Like Hillary Clinton, Al Gore won the popular vote in a crucial election but never became presi­dent, since he lost the Electoral College. The outcome of the 2000 presiden­tial contest might have been different if the Supreme Court had not seem­ingly handed the election to George W. Bush by halting the Florida ballot recount. It would not have come down to that in nearly all other democra­cies, because they lack electoral colleges. America’s unusual voting system is a vestige of an oppressive era. Back in the eighteenth century, Southern states feared that a direct presidential election would lead them to be outvoted, as they had fewer eligible white voters than Northern states. The resulting com­promise was an electoral college under which Southern states received votes proportional to three-fifths of their sizable slave populations, in addition to those for their free populations. The fact that America still employs an anachronistic electoral system largely created to accommodate slavery exem­plifies a broader issue. It is often said that America is a young nation, but it is also an old democracy. It has the oldest written national constitution in use anywhere in the world, which has been a mixed blessing by fostering both stability and immobilism.

What are your thoughts on the Electoral College? Should it be abolished or not? If so, how do you think voting should occur? Share your comments below.

Rebellion and Counter-Revolution in Detroit

by Scott Kurashige

This guest post is part of a series published in conjunction with the meeting of the American Studies Association in Denver. UC Press authors share insight into their research and stories that reflect this year’s conference theme, “Home/Not Home: Centering American Studies Where We Are.” We hope these personal glimpses into their scholarship will inspire a broad community of readers. Come back for new posts every day between now and November 20th.

On election night, I watched the returns along with millions of others across the nation. It was far closer than expected, said the reporters. Everything will come down to Michigan, said the pundits as the night wore on. One analyst zeroed in on Macomb County as the decisive site of swing voters. This was the birthplace of the Reagan Democrats, the blue-collar suburb that was produced by white flight from Detroit. I knew right then and there that it was game over for the anti-Trump side.

There is no better place to look than metro Detroit to understand the roots of the political and economic crises we face today. Detroit gave rise to the American Dream of boundless growth, upward mobility, and social stability. But antiblack discrimination, segregation, and repression made Detroit a herrenvolk democracy—an ultimately untenable situation that exploded in the Detroit Rebellion of 1967. “There is no such thing as moderate any more,” declared Francis Kornegay of the Detroit Urban League, “only militant and more militant.”

The entire system has been out of balance since the revolts of a half-century ago: the urban rebellions across the country; the Vietnamese war against American imperialism; the multinational corporate assault on the New Deal order; the radical social movements of Black Power and the New Left; and the white populist backlash against racial integration and liberal governance.

While the middle class was undone by neoliberalism, Detroit’s most observable feature remained racial polarization. Black Democrats took power in the city, while suburban white Republicans surrounded and contained it. Coleman A. Young made history as Detroit’s first Black mayor, but his election marked the city’s downfall in the eyes of many whites who refused to accept the legitimacy of a mayor they deemed an antiwhite racist.

As poverty and abandonment rose, local political control remained a source of Black pride and a legacy of Black Power in Detroit. Even that long established reality came undone as the financial crisis struck and the Tea Party wave led the GOP to sweep all three branches of state government in 2010. The state was positioned to take over Detroit, overturn governance by elections and majority rule, and impose privatization and austerity measures.

Post-Katrina New Orleans became the model for dispossession under “emergency management”: gentrification of the core, downsizing of the outer neighborhoods, and an overall gutting of the public sector. Tens of thousands of Detroiters lost access to water, while Flint saw its water system poisoned. All under a governor who considers himself a “moderate.”

My forthcoming book, The Fifty-Year Rebellion: Detroit and the Future of Race and Activism in America, is premised on showing how Detroit symbolizes the polarization of our society toward alternative futures: authoritarian plutocracy versus participatory democracy. Those who fear the former are advised to learn from Detroit’s ongoing history of not just resistance but also grassroots organizing to envision and actualize a more humane social order.

Scott Kurashige is Professor of American and Ethnic Studies at the University of Washington Bothell and co-author, with Grace Lee Boggs, of The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century. UC Press will publish The Fifty-Year Rebellion: Detroit and the Future of Race and Activism in America in Spring, 2017.

Please use hashtag #2016ASA when sharing on Twitter or Facebook.

Remaking Home Through Solidarity

by Emily K. Hobson

This guest post is part of a series published in conjunction with the meeting of the American Studies Association in Denver. UC Press authors share insight into their research and stories that reflect this year’s conference theme, “Home/Not Home: Centering American Studies Where We Are.” We hope these personal glimpses into their scholarship will inspire a broad community of readers. Come back for new posts every day between now and November 20th.

In the weeks and months to come, will we grant Muslim, immigrant, and trans people sanctuary in our neighborhoods and universities? Will we connect the dots between war-making, the suppression of dissent, and cutbacks to human needs? Where will we find models for fighting back? One source for lessons lies in the gay and lesbian left, which made liberation its theory and solidarity its practice.

Across the 1970s and 1980s, gay and lesbian leftists acted as accomplices to struggles against US militarism, imperialism, and the New Right. They transformed their self-interest into mutual interest by tying their sexual freedom to the freedom of others. Through their activism, they transformed “home” in both practical and ideological terms.

Gay and lesbian leftists formed collective households, destabilizing the nuclear family and the gendered division of household labor. They sheltered fugitives in the radical underground, linking opposition to state repression to defense against rape and gender violence. And by the 1980s, they made the Central America movement a defining pole of lesbian and gay activism—linking domestic and foreign politics, “home” with “not home.”

Lesbian and gay radicals opposed US intervention in Central America and joined a united front against the Reagan administration. They especially supported the Nicaraguan Revolution, investing hope in a new model of socialism with numerous women leaders. Chicana/o, Latina/o, and other people of color gained prominence in Central American solidarity work, challenging whiteness in lesbian and gay communities. As the AIDS crisis hit, activists drew on the tactics of anti-intervention to take civil disobedience and demand “Money for AIDS, not war.”

On November 9, 2016, we woke up to a crisis that calls us to movement building. Already we are hearing demands to respect the process—to cooperate with a racist, xenophobic, misogynist demagogue, his administration, and the violent reaction he has mobilized. Trump’s incoherence draws in opportunists willing to sacrifice others as soon as their narrowest interests are met. Facing this, we must practice committed and persistent solidarity. The gay and lesbian left offers a model for what is sure to be a long fight.

Emily K. Hobson is Assistant Professor of History and of Gender, Race, and Identity at the University of Nevada, Reno. Lavender and Red: Liberation and Solidarity in the Gay and Lesbian Left is available now.

Please use hashtag #2016ASA when sharing on Twitter or Facebook.

The Importance of the African American Vote

During this election cycle, one of the most pressing questions have been how the African American vote could sway the results of the presidency. Attempts at blocking early votingAfrican American women still expected to “show up” to vote, and why some African Americans are voting Republican show just how influential African Americans can be for the turnout of the presidential election.

Some have wondered why Black Republicans may vote for Donald Trump. “It’s completely legitimate to look at a Black Republican and say, ‘why are you doing this? How are you doing? I don’t understand how you can support this kind of policy.’ But you would have to ask those same questions of a white Republican,” says Corey D. Fields, sociologist and author of Black Elephants in the Room: The Unexpected Politics of African American Republicans, while in conversation with Tavis Smiley on October 19, 2016.

Corey D. Fields and Tavis Smiley discuss the impact of the African American vote this election season.
Corey D. Fields and Tavis Smiley discuss the impact of the African American vote this election season.

Many have tackled the question of whether a person can be black and Republican. Joshua Goodman for the New York Times writes that Fields “wants to understand how their sense of themselves as black people and their ideas about black people shape their politics and how their politics shape their identity and ideas. Fields … argue[s] that a majority of black Republicans are race-conscious, seeing their positions on social and economic issues in racial terms. If that seems surprising, it is because white Republicans prefer colorblind black conservatives.”

On the 125th Street subway platform in Harlem, April 2016. Credit Joseph Michael Lopez for The New York Times
On the 125th Street subway platform in Harlem, April 2016. Credit Joseph Michael Lopez for The New York Times

In his book, Fields illustrates this race-blind, color-conscious preference by white Republicans in relation to the Republican Party’s outreach efforts to black voters:

Fields-BlackElephantsRather than link Republican policies to the concrete concerns of black voters, outreach efforts have generally been grounded in vague, race-blind language. Betsy, another white Republican tasked with black outreach, chatted with me at a political event after Michael Steele, then making waves as a prominent African American Republican, spoke. Betsy praised Steele for being “articulate and well spoken” (words often recognized as a racially back-handed compliment) and was enthusiastic about him, though she was quick to note that she would like him whether he “was black, white, red, or orange.” She went on to say that the biggest barrier to getting more blacks involved in the Republican Party was education—stressing that, to her mind, when other groups like Jewish, Italian, and Polish immigrants had been underprivileged, education offered a “way out.” Even when these people were uneducated, Betsy said, they made sure that their children were educated.

I asked how education would increase black people’s Republicanism. She explained that once black people were educated, they would realize the affinity between their beliefs and the Republican Party. There was a palpable shift in the tone of our conversation, and Betsy became very serious, shaking her head and hitting the table to emphasize her points. She said that education would lead to more success and less “dependence on the government.” She paused. “Don’t you agree?” I tentatively responded that it was hard to argue against education. With her triumphant look, the tension in the conversation dissipated. Smiling, Betsy assured me that she was not going to give up on black voters just because it was hard to win them over.

What does this mean for the current presidential election? Fields writes that “a major shift in black support for the Republican Party this fall seems very unlikely. Based on my findings, the GOP has to reconsider how it incorporates black Republicans into the party if it has any real interest in appealing to black voters. It is not enough to incorporate blackness on terms that are comfortable to white leaders.”

How do you think the African American vote will influence today’s election? Share your comments below. #GetOutandVote #Election2016

Trump and Homosexuality: Differences in Public Opinion

By Amy Adamczyk, author of Cross-National Public Opinion about Homosexuality: Examining Attitudes across the Globe

This guest post is published in advance of the American Society of Criminology conference in New Orleans. Check back every week for new posts through the end of the conference on November 19th. #ASC2016 #Election2016

Like many academics, I was surprised at how well Donald Trump did early in the presidential election, securing the Republican nomination and at times rivaling Hillary Clinton in the polls. Part of the reason I was so surprised is because almost everyone I know and spend time with is a staunch democrat, socialist, or even communist. For many academics most of our friends are very liberal left-leaning highly educated people. For me it is even more extreme because I am childless and live in Manhattan. So the thought of millions of Trump enthusiasts has been hard to fathom.

Adamczyk-CrossNationalThat a social scientist like myself, trained to avoid generalizing from personal experience, is nonetheless taken aback by the Trump phenomenon is a testament to the power of context. Simply put, those with whom we interact have a powerful role in shaping our views. And our friendship groups tend not to be very diverse, so it’s easy to find ourselves in an echo chamber soundproofed from the voices of the outside world. This is especially true for people at opposite ends of the educational spectrum, whose friendship networks tend to be particularly homogeneous.

The media coverage of the presidential election provides repeated reminders of the deep cultural divides within our country. When we regularly see our fellow citizens cheering on a candidate who we find outrageous or worse, it is easy to forget all the subjects on which most of us agree, and how this agreement is fostered by the cultural and structural context we share as residents of the United States. For example, the issue of gay rights, a wedge issue in past elections, has faded from view in the current election. Opposition to same-sex marriage has narrowed over the last two decades and this year Republicans nominated someone who appears only now to oppose same-sex marriage out of political expediency. Meanwhile, there are nations where a person can be put to death for being gay. As great as the cultural differences among our fellow citizens, the differences between nations are vaster still, especially on key issues like gay rights.

In my forthcoming book, Cross-National Public Opinion about Homosexuality: Examining Attitudes across the Globe, I show just how vast the differences are across nations on this important issue. What accounts for such dramatic differences across nations? The book shows that much of the variation in attitudes about homosexuality can be traced back to differences in the degree of economic development, democratic governance and religious fervor. The book also shows how these factors interact in complex ways with a nation’s unique history and geographic location to produce divergent cultural and structural climates.

The interesting thing about contextual forces, whether they are operating within friendship groups, regions, or nations, is that we often do not know they are there. It takes something like a divisive national election or stories about the denial of civil rights to remind us of the different worlds in which we live.

Adamczyk.Amy-PhotoAmy Adamczyk is Professor of Sociology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center, City University of New York.

Homeless Families Invisible in Election Rhetoric

More than 2.5 million children are homeless in the United States every year and yet most of us don’t see them. Temporarily housed in hotels or living out of their cars, these families are rendered invisible, even to the presidential candidates who neglect to address this level of poverty and our lack of affordable housing. Richard Schweid, author of Invisible Nation: Homeless Families in America, offers his insights based on his in-depth reporting from five major cities.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have expended a lot of breath talking about what can be done for those families that have fallen out of the middle class, but no attention whatsoever has been paid to the multitude of families that have fallen out of the lower class, and have slipped from poverty into extreme poverty and homelessness, carrying their children with them. Despite the fact that the number of homeless families has grown exponentially over the past decade, they are off the political radar.

We have a pair of presidential candidates who tout themselves as firm believers in “family values”, while every year more than 2.5 million American children are experiencing homelessness. The only chance many of these kids might have to hear the presidential debates is on the radio in the car where they are living with their families. An additional 200,000 people in families are in bare-bones emergency shelters every night. Hundreds of thousands more kids are packed into the homes of relatives or friends, or in cheap motel rooms—rooms that Hillary or Donald would not even consider fit for habitation, but where working mothers must try to raise their kids, night after night, month after month. It might seem that such a national shame would be high on the agendas of our presidential aspirants, yet during this long campaign season no mention has been made of these millions of children who year after year, through no fault of their own, are growing up in miserable conditions.

Fifty years ago, the word “homeless” signified dysfunctional individuals—mostly men–who drank heavily and slept rough. Now, it is more likely to mean a young single mother with small children and a minimum-wage job, working full-time with no benefits, or child care. In 1980, families with children made up only one percent of the nation’s homeless, and by 2015 that number was thirty-eight percent of the total and rising. Children experiencing homelessness are at greater risk of physical and mental illnesses than their housed peers, and live their daily lives with levels of toxic stress that should not be borne by kids.

The chronically homeless individuals we see on the streets are there for a number of reasons, but almost all homeless families are without shelter for one reason: money. They simply cannot afford to pay for housing in today’s rental markets. The fix for this is well known: a sufficient number of affordable rentals and a brief spell of rental assistance will house these families, and when the rent subsidy ends, studies show that most of them will keep themselves housed.

Schweid_Invisible Nation - jacket image

One potential remedy for family homelessness came on line this year: the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) to create affordable housing, which receives funding from a tiny fraction of the mortgage loans financed by federal lenders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The funds are allotted to the states, which in turn provide the money to communities for affordable housing. Congressional Republicans attempted to eliminate the NHTF this year, but were unsuccessful.

As politicians, bureaucrats, social service workers, and policymakers spend years, and decades, debating about whether and how to help homeless families, the children in them grow up to adulthood, and are incorporated into our world. They move among us, many of them in poor health, scarred, scared, and emotionally stunted for life, growing into parents who will raise yet another generation of extremely poor children. Some few of these children, through hard work, focus, and good luck, will grow up to pull themselves out of poverty, while most will never have an opportunity to do so.

The number of children passing through homelessness will only shrink when communities decide to do everything in their power to eliminate family homelessness within their precincts. Some places like Fairfax, Virginia or Trenton, New Jersey are already doing so, putting “best practice” programs in place to prevent families from becoming homeless, and rapidly rehousing them if they do, but in most of our cities and towns the standard set by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton—total silence on the subject—remains in place.

Schweid_Invisible Nation - Author Photo 1


Richard Schweid is a journalist and documentary reporter. He is the author of nine nonfiction books, including Che’s Chevrolet, Fidel’s Oldsmobile: On the Road in CubaHot Peppers: The Story of Cajuns and CapsicumConsider the Eel: A Natural and Gastronomic History, and The Cockroach Papers: A Compendium of History and Lore. He has also produced or reported more than two dozen documentaries for Catalonian public television, including the Oscar-nominated Balseros.

How Donald Trump’s “Locker-Room Talk” Perpetuates Sexual Violence Against Women

By Jerry Flores, author of Caught Up: Girls, Surveillance, and Wraparound Incarceration

This guest post is published in advance of the American Society of Criminology conference in New Orleans. Check back every week for new posts through the end of the conference on November 19th. #ASC2016 #Election2016

Recently, a video of presidential candidate Donald Trump making sexist, lewd, and offensive comments about women flooded media coverage. In the video, Trump can be heard saying, “I just start kissing them [women]. Just kiss—I don’t even wait. And when you are a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Whatever you want. Grab them by the pussy. Whatever you want.” A reporter laughed aloud at these statements.

“Locker-Room Talk”

After the release of this video a slew of women have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of Mr. Trump. Even more problematic is that videos and quotes have also emerged. With this new information the resounding theme of the hyper-sexualization of women, the use of sexist language and the objectification of women’s bodies are exceedingly clear. In response, Trump apologized and referred to this type of language as “locker-room talk.” He also affirmed that he holds the utmost respect for women. Despite these statements, Mr. Trump’s discussion of women reflects the larger hyper-sexualization of women in a patriarchal society that largely ignores this type of sexual misconduct. There is no place where this is more painfully apparent than in the narratives of marginalized young women (especially women of color) featured in my book Caught Up.


Sexual Abuse at the Hands of Those We Trust

In this book, I address how the schools and detention centers in Southern California are collectively punishing young Latina girls in new and dynamic ways. For this project, I interviewed over 30 young women and included twenty more via group interviews or ethnographic fieldwork. The ubiquitous sexual abuse of young women was the largest and most pervasive theme I heard during my two years of research. Interview after interview, I heard young women recount instances of this type of abuse at the hands of immediate and distant family, neighbors, students at school, current and ex-romantic partners, institutional actors, priests, human traffickers or by complete strangers.

Another major theme in my research was the relative impunity with which these men continually victimized the young people in my study. From stories of gang sexual assault at the hands of boys told by “Feliz” or stories of being molested by multiple neighbors over the course of various years like “Ray,” sexual violence was ubiquitous in the lives of young women.


Additionally, while local, state and federal governments always seemed to have the resources to punish young women, they often lacked the ability to provide resources to help youth cope with their prior and current sexual assault. As a person who is concerned with the well being of these young women, my wife, mother, cousins, and all women, I wonder how Trump’s type of “locker-room talk” emboldens and perpetuates the ongoing assault and abuse of young women, and rape culture as a whole. I also wonder what message it sends to men of all ages when they hear how Mr. Trump has allegedly victimized so many women and gotten away with it. This is even more shocking since Donald Trump is a presidential candidate that has the support of large segments of the U.S. population.

As an academic, feminist and victim of childhood sexual assault, I hope that we as a society can find a way to stop the continued attack on women and more broadly on all marginalized and oppressed groups. I also hope that we come to our senses and realize that a person who preys on the weak and exploits their privilege to do so is not someone we want as our president. Flores is a Ford Foundation Fellow, University of California President’s Postdoc, and Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice in the Social Work and Criminal Justice Program at the University of Washington, Tacoma.

An Immigrant’s Identity

The upcoming presidential election has once again brought immigration issues to the forefront of national discussion. From Donald Trump’s border wall to the near-daily stories we hear of racial profiling, candidates and citizens alike are discussing how the lives of Latin American immigrants in the U.S. are complicated by immigration law and reform.

An Identity for Work 

Sarah B. Horton, author of They Leave Their Kidneys in the Fields: Illness, Injury, and Illegality among U.S. Farmworkers discusses in her book the impact of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) on immigrants’ daily lives.

kidneys.hortonScholars of immigration law denaturalize migrant “illegality” by direct­ing our attention to how it is legally produced. Indeed, federal and state policies—specifically, IRCA and the exclusion of undocumented migrants from unemployment insurance—enable and encourage iden­tity loan. The passage of IRCA in 1986 criminalized the employment of undocumented workers, making it illegal for employers to knowingly hire such workers. With the aim of reducing employment as an incen­tive for migration, IRCA requires employers to personally inspect each employee’s documents proving their identity (usually a mica, or green card) and their eligibility for work (a seguro, or Social Security card). Employers must record this information on a federal I-9 form and keep a copy for three years. Although IRCA imposes sanctions on employers who violate its provisions, it contains a loophole that protects employ­ers from such penalties: it does not require them to verify the authentic­ity of employees’ documents. As a result, employers are considered to be complying with the law as long as the documents they accept “appear on their face to be genuine.” Thus while IRCA has done little to curb the employment of undocumented workers, it has created a thriving black market for fraudulent work-authorization documents.

In a Huffington Post article titled “The Hole in Trump’s Wall,” Horton discusses the issues in Donald Trump’s border wall plan. His plan includes mandating e-Verify for all employers. Horton notes that Trump’s “plan does not address the role of employers in getting around immigration laws and providing workers with the documents they need. In fact, just like employer sanctions before it, E-Verify is likely to worsen workplace conditions for all those who work in industries dominated by undocumented workers.”

Forms of Identification

Angela Stuesse, author of Scratching Out a Living: Latinos, Race, and Work in the Deep Southwent deep into Mississippi’s chicken processing plants and communities, where Latin American migrants, alongside an established African American workforce, continue to work in some of the most dangerous and lowest-paid jobs in the country. Stuesse writes:

Scratching Out a Living StuessePermitted to obtain a driver’s license, I didn’t worry that at a traffic stop I might lose an entire month’s earnings to fines or be detained or deported. I might be pulled over because of my out-of-state license plate, but not likely because of my fair skin and hair. With a social security number, I had a bank account and thus didn’t have to worry that my only savings could be stolen from underneath my mattress. Despite my concerns that I would have a hard time finding affordable rental housing in Forest, I was ultimately able to find a two-bedroom house on an acre of land for far less than most poultry workers pay to share a dilapidated trailer. These privileges of race, class, and citizenship were palpable as I went about my daily life in Mississippi, fighting alongside others in their struggle to access such basic human rights as dignity on the job, a living wage, minimal health and safety protections, affordable housing, and the ability to help their families thrive.

In another Huffington Post article, both Stuesse and Horton discuss the dangers of “Driving While Latino” and the impact of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA), which enables “state and local police to investigate, arrest and detain any noncitizen they believe has violated immigration laws—a responsibility previously reserved for federal immigration authorities alone. … This has created a gauntlet of immigrant policing that stretches across the country and operates through the intensified surveillance of immigrants as they go about their daily lives.”

What are your thoughts on current immigration reform?

Horton.photoSarah Bronwen Horton is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Colorado, Denver. To learn more about Sarah, please visit



Stuesse-Author-Photo-2014-146x150Angela Stuesse is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Learn more about Dr. Stuesse here:

The Immigration Issue for Election 2016

Yet again, immigration has become a pivotal issue in the elections. Presidential candidates have shared their varying stances. And in response, many Latinos did their best to register to vote despite various obstacles.

Many believe that the Latino vote will be a game-changer. From now until November elections, as candidates continue to discuss immigration in regards to paths to citizenship, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), deportation raids, or border control, we should remember that every immigrant’s story is a personal one.

Below are some titles that share the immigrant experience. You can see more titles on our website re: Immigration and Emigration. And save 40% on these and all other UC Press titles, including upcoming Fall ’16 new release pre-orders, by participating in our Summer Sale from June 14th-June 21st. Use discount code 15W4890 at checkout. (Sale excludes e-books and journals, and some restrictions apply; please see Summer Sale info).