Documenting the Human Costs of the U.S. Security-State, Part 2

This post is published in conjunction with the American Anthropological Association conference in Washington D.C.. Check back regularly for new posts through the end of the conference on December 3rd. #AmAnth17

This year’s theme of “Anthropology Matters!” is a call to action that our authors and the Press are proud to support.

Deborah Boehm
Sarah Horton

Authors Deborah Boehm (Returned) and Sarah Horton (They Leave Their Kidneys in the Fieldsshare their thoughts on Anthropology in Unseen Spaces, sharing thoughts on the fate of Latino immigrants due U.S. policies on policing, detention, and deportation.

Earlier this week, as part of their AAA session on Detained on Trumped-Up Charges: Migrants and the Ascendant U.S. Security-State, they focused on various aspects, including how “[m]assive raids in immigrant neighborhoods and workplaces, the apprehension of DACAmented students—often out of retaliation for their speaking out—and the deportations of long-term residents not previously deemed priorities for ‘removal’ have spread anxiety and panic throughout immigrant communities.”

In Returned: Going and Coming in an Age of Deportation, Deborah Boehm shares the social effects that migrant Latinos undergo when they return to their homeland, either by choice or by force:

In a conversation about my research on deportation, a friend from the city of Zacatecas—an urban Zacatecano—made an observation that has stayed with me as I have witnessed and tried to make sense of migrants’ experiences of return and being returned. My friend remarked, almost in passing, that the migrants I work with are “ciudadanos perdidos, ” or lost citizens, and then he repeated a refrain I have often heard in my research with migrants, typically from migrants themselves: “No son de aquí ni de allá  [They are from neither here nor there].” When I asked why he chose this specific word—lost —to describe his fellow citizens, he replied that return migrants are not fully part of either country, excluded from the United States but not entirely Mexican. “Of course, they are my paisanos  [fellow nationals],” he explained, “but their lives are very different from mine. It is difficult to know what will become of them.”

While this sentiment of being “from neither here nor there” has framed my ongoing research with migrant communities, “lost citizens” is a category of alienation that signals a new global order of injustice. We do not all have equal access to citizenship and membership in particular nations. We do not all have the same chances to move across borders. As the world becomes a more connected place for some, the disconnections, barriers, and spaces of exclusion grow for most. This label “lost citizens,” like the many categories explored throughout the book, is shifting and relational. My friend seemed to understand this, identifying with migrants as members of the nation but also recognizing the deep divide of experience that separates them.

So, are deportees, returnees, and their family members in fact “lost citizens”? In the sense that their membership is compromised in the nations in which they live, yes, this is certainly the case. So I wonder if these migrants are lost citizens or rather those who have suffered loss, including a kind of “lost citizenship” or absence of full membership.They have lost, or never had—sometimes even in those nations they consider home—the full right to citizenship. Those affected by return are lost citizens in this sense, or perhaps lost citizens might be more aptly understood as those who lose in an era of global movement. The age of deportation is marked by social injustice and striking inequality as subjects move and do not move—forcibly or not, despite and because of state power—across national boundaries throughout the world.

Read the previous part of Documenting the Human Costs of the U.S. Security-State. And learn about the physical and psychological stress that U.S. immigration policies inflict on Latino migrants from Sarah Horton’s They Leave Their Kidneys in the Fields.

 


Documenting the Human Costs of the U.S. Security-State, Part 1

This post is published in conjunction with the American Anthropological Association conference in Washington D.C.. Check back regularly for new posts through the end of the conference on December 3rd. #AmAnth17

We are so glad to be in attendance again at AAA. This year’s theme of “Anthropology Matters!” is a call to action that we—alongside our authors—have always embraced. Anthropology will always help us make sense of the past, explore our present, and journey through our future.

Deborah Boehm
Sarah Horton

This year, authors Deborah Boehm (Returned) and Sarah Horton (They Leave Their Kidneys in the Fields) share their thoughts on Anthropology in Unseen Spaces, discussing the fate of Latino immigrants due to policing, detention, and deportation policies in the U.S. They note that, “Anthropologists have a central role to play in uncovering and understanding state power but also the social movements that challenge it.”

In They Leave Their Kidneys in the Field: Illness, Injury, and Illegality among U.S. Farmworkers, Sarah Horton discusses the physical and psychological stress that these policies inflict on Latino migrants:

The Everyday Violence of Being a Legal Minority

While recent studies of chronic stress and cardiovascular disease have focused specifically on racial minorities, the findings are suggestive for other minority groups that also face chronic, pervasive stress.. Many researchers observe that being a legal minority—that is, an undocumented migrant or a migrant with tenuous legal status—may provoke unprecedented anticipatory stress and chronic worry in the current anti-migrant climate.  Cecilia Menjívar and Leisy Abrego’s analysis of legal violence focuses on how it exerts material effects on migrants’ schooling, family life, and employment.  Complementing their analysis, this chapter explores on the subjective and physiological effects of such legal violence.

Rogelio Sáenz and colleagues point out that a climate of increasing hostility toward migrants in the United States affects their psychological (and presumably physiological) health. They show that the passage of Arizona’s “Show Me Your Papers” law in 2010  caused distress and anxiety even among migrants in neighboring states.  They compare the micro-aggressions with which undocumented migrants contend to the “racial battle fatigue” that racial and ethnic minorities experience. Similarly, in her study of eighteen return migrants at a public psychiatric hospital in Oaxaca, Whitney Duncan found that all but two attributed their mental illness to the migration experience—in particular its “solitude, discrimination, [and] unremitting anxiety and stress.” Most of her sample had never experienced mental health problems prior to leaving for the United States. In the current anti-migrant climate, legal minority status may also lead to perpetual vigilance. Like being “Black,” being “illegal” or tenuously legal may result in hyperarousal—the chronic perception of the body’s being under attack.

Stay tuned later this week when we share Deborah Boehm thoughts on the psychological and social tolls of a migrant returning to their home country as a “lost citizen” in Returned: Going and Coming in an Age of Deportation.

And attend the AAA session on Detained on Trumped-Up Charges: Migrants and the Ascendant U.S. Security-State.


The Town Where the Asphalt Ends

This guest post is published in conjunction with the American Anthropological Association conference in Washington D.C. Check back regularly for new posts through the end of the conference on December 3rd. #AmAnth17

By Angela Stuesse, author of Scratching Out a Living: Latinos, Race, and Work in the Deep South

In 2004 I moved to Scott County, Mississippi, where new Latin American immigrants, recruited by the area’s poultry industry, were arriving from across the continent. There I joined a budding coalition of immigrant and civil rights advocates, communities of faith, union leaders, employment justice attorneys, and working people who were grappling with the changes happening in their neighborhoods and workplaces.

For six years I contributed to their efforts to create a workers’ center to support poultry workers in defense of their rights. I also conducted research on how the area’s transformations came about, their relationship to longstanding political economies of race in the South, and their impacts on poultry workers, their communities, and possibilities for workplace justice. A decade later I told this story in my book, Scratching Out a Living.

While I eventually left Mississippi, many of the relationships I built there were deep, rooted in personal commitment and political struggle. This is especially true of the bonds I formed with injured workers. As Coordinator of the Mississippi Poultry Workers’ Center’s Workplace Injury Project, I spent thousands of hours advocating on behalf of injured workers, including 100+ trips to doctors and lawyers in which I served as interpreter and advocate.

Nearly half of those doctor’s visits were with Gaudenico, who lost part of his hand in a gruesome workplace accident when he was just 17 years old. We spent the next year in surgeries and physical therapy together, including countless hours of conversations on the road to and from appointments. He took to wearing a glove to hide his twisted and amputated digits, a practice I couldn’t convince him to shake. When he returned to Veracruz a few years later, at first he called periodically to give me updates on his life back home, but eventually we lost touch. The number I had for him stopped working, and his phone calls ceased.

This semester I have been on research leave in Mexico, and last weekend, while attending the XVIII Encuentro de Pueblos Negros in Veracruz, my young children and I embarked on a journey in search of Gaudenico. I had no idea whether I might find him in his village, living in a nearby city, back in the United States, or even alive, but I’ve long wondered what became of him, and I couldn’t let the opportunity pass us by. Armed with his birth certificate, an old student ID, a handful of photos, and bunches of curiosity, we headed into the mountains of Veracruz.

While inquiring about the best routes and state of the rural dirt roads at our hotel, an employee called her father, a retired long-haul trucker from the area, for guidance. Don Tibursio offered to accompany us on our journey, and we were delighted to have a local guide and native Nahautl speaker on our team. Several hours into our journey, talking to folks in the town where the asphalt ended led us to believe we could reach Gaudenico’s community along a sharp shale road up the mountain in 1-2 hours, as long as we had a spare tire and attempted by day. But nearly to the village, my realization that I had failed to fill the gas tank that morning forced us to turn back.

I felt a flood of disappointment as we searched for gas in the town where the asphalt ended. We had come so far but had been unable to find Gaudenico or his family. Don Tibursio insisted it was too late in the day to make a second attempt. Not to be defeated, after partially filling the tank with a questionable substance using a homemade soda bottle funnel, I started asking who in town might have contact with people in Gaudenico’s village.

We eventually found ourselves in the home of a woman who had married a man from the village. Though skeptical at first, her husband shared by phone that he knew the family. He had seen Gaudenico sometime in the last few years and believed he was living several hours away in the city of Xalapa. Unable to stay, I left a note for Gaudencio, one for his mother, and a copy of my book along with a request that they be delivered. I hoped that one day with the help of kind strangers and technology I might hear from one of them.

Little did I know that my notes would be taken to Gaudencio’s mother in person by someone heading up the mountain that very night! My phone rang early the next morning. The delight in Gaudenico’s voice when I answered matched my own, and he wept as he told me of the time nearly a decade ago that his phone was stolen and all his contacts lost. Our families joyfully met up later that day outside of Xalapa. “I love you like a sister, and I’ll never forget the role you played at such an important time in my life,” he said as he held my hand. “I didn’t do anything,” I replied. “It was what anyone would do when seeing another human being suffer. I’ve missed you.”

What a heartwarming reunion it was. At 30 years old, today Gaudencio is married with an infant daughter. He drives a taxi for a living. He appears happy and healthy, and his disability doesn’t seem to slow him down in the least. Oh, and that glove he used to wear? He proudly boasts that he tossed it as soon as he returned to Mexico. Today we’re all smiling, inside and out.


Angela Stuesse is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her book, Scratching Out a Living: Latinos, Race, and Work in the Deep South, has been selected as the recipient of the 2017 Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology (SLACA) Book Prize, to be awarded at this week’s American Anthropological Association meeting in Washington, DC. Learn more about Stuesse’s work at www.AngelaStuesse.com.


Remembering Those at Pulse in Orlando: One Year Later

Today, we remember the 49 people who lost their lives at Pulse Night Club in Orlando, FL. It is the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter; the deadliest terrorist attack since September 11, 2011; and the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in U.S. history.

Survivors and family members pay tribute to those in the community who were lost yet always remembered.

This day brings to light the discrimination and homophobia that those in the LGBTQ community experience, and how gun violence—and lack of gun sense—contribute to such tragedies.

Homophobia, sadly, begins early on. C.J. Pascoe, author of Dude, You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School, notes in her Guest Viewpoint for The Register-Guard that homophobia is linked to our definition of  masculinity. Pascoe says that during her research, “[b]oys told me that homophobic epithets were directed at boys for exhibiting any sort of behavior defined as nonmasculine: being stupid, incompetent, dancing, caring too much about clothing, being too emotional or expressing interest (sexual or platonic) in other guys.”

And Pascoe notes in Dude, You’re a Fag that the “fag” insult “literally reduced a boy to nothing, “To call someone gay or fag is like the lowest thing you can call someone. Because that’s like saying that you’re nothing.”

Pascoe shares the story of Ricky, who “embodied the fag because of his homosexuality and his less normative gender identification and self-presentation.”

Even though dancing was the most important thing in his life, Ricky told me he didn’t attend school dances because he didn’t like to “watch my back” the whole time. Meanings of sexuality and masculinity were deeply embedded in dancing and high school dances. Several boys at the school told me that they wouldn’t even attend a dance if they knew Ricky was going to be there. In auto shop, Brad,a white sophomore, said, “I heard Ricky is going in a skirt. It’s a hella short one!” Chad responded, “I wouldn’t even go if he’s there.” Topping Chad’s response, Brad claimed, “I’d probably beat him up outside!” K.J. agreed: “He’d probably get jumped by a bunch of kids who don’t like him.” Chad said, “If I were a gay guy I wouldn’t go around telling everyone.” 

Pascoe later shares practical recommendations, focusing on schools to try and curtain homophobia in early settings. From ways administrators and teachers can take proactive steps to know about and enforce anti-discriminatory laws, modify the school’s curriculum and social organizations to be less homophobic, and reorganize highly gendered school rituals, Pascoe brings to the forth front ways we can help gay youth feel more included and be less preyed upon.

As both young Ricky and Pulse Night Club have shown us, homophobia is still a concern of life and death for many, even now. Despite the sadness that many feel today, we end on a note of hope, with the simple message that today is a day of love and kindness. #OrlandoUnitedDay

 


Columbus Day, Then and Now

In reference to Columbus Day and as part of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we recognize Hispanic and Latino Americans’ current contributions–and current struggles–in the United States. Learn more at #HispanicHeritage Month and #ColumbusDay.


Every year on Columbus Day, Americans celebrate Christopher Columbus’s landing in the New World on Oct. 12, 1492. The holiday was established in 1937. But many have begun to question the prevailing views of this day, opening the doors to discuss how it ignores the enslavement and mass murder of thousands of native and indigenous groups.

Some Latin American countries now choose to celebrate Día de la Raza (Day of the Race), celebrated on October 12 of each year. And in Spain, the holiday has been changed to Día de la Hispanidad (Day of Hispanity) or Fiesta Nacional de España  (National Day of Spain) to recognize Spain’s history, monarchy, and military.

The recognition of the cultural meaning of Columbus’s “discovery” of the New World and the shift in its meaning is being introduced to a new generation of people and students so all can gain a truer understanding of Latin American and Latino American culture.

Almaguer.NewLatinoStudiesReaderIn 1491, on the eve on the Columbian voyages, there were some 123 distinct indigenous language families spoken in the Americas, with more than 260 different languages in Mexico alone. Perhaps as many as 20 million people were living in the Valley of Mexico in 1519, in hierarchical, complexly stratified theocratic states. But there were no Indians. Christopher Columbus invented them in 1492 by mistakenly believing that he had reached India, and thus calling them indios producing the lexical distinction we now use to refer to the Caribbean as the West Indies and to India as the East Indies. Inventing Indians was to serve an important imperial end for Spain, for by calling the natives indios, the Spaniards erased and leveled the diverse and complex indigenous political and religious hierarchies they found. Where once there had been many ethnic groups stratified as native lords, warriors, craftsmen, hunters, farmers, and slaves, the power of imperial Spain was not only to vanquish but to define, largely reducing peoples such as the mighty Aztecs into a defeated Indian class that soon bore the pain of subjugation as tribute-paying racialized subjects.

From Ramón A. Gutiérrez and Tomás Almaguer’s The New Latino Studies Reader: A Twenty-First-Century Perspective, Chapter 1, “What’s in a Name?” by Ramón A. Gutiérrez. 

Many now see this day as an opportunity to reaffirm their culture, share the value of their cultural identity, and an equal relationship amongst all peoples.

GutmannLesser.GlobalLatinAmericaAt a time when the commemoration of the Fifth Centenary of the arrival of Columbus in America has repercussions all over the world, the revival of hope for the oppressed indigenous peoples demands that we reassert our existence to the world and the value of our cultural identity. It demands that we endeavor to actively participate in the decisions that concern our destiny, in the building-up of our countries/nations. Should we, in spite of all, not be taken into consideration, there are factors that guarantee our future: struggle and endurance; courage; the decision to maintain our traditions that have been exposed to so many perils and sufferings; solidarity towards our struggle on the part of numerous countries, governments, organizations and citizens of the world. That is why I dream of the day when the relationship between the indigenous peoples and other peoples is strengthened; when they can combine their potentialities and their capabilities and contribute to make life on this planet less unequal, a better distribution of the scientific and cultural treasures accumulated by Humanity, flourishing in peace and justice.

From Matthew C. Gutmann and Jeffrey Lesser’s Global Latin America: Into the Twenty-First Century, Chapter 12, “Nobel Lecture” by Rigoberta Menchú Tum


American as Anxiety and Ambivalence

Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, a professor of globalization and education at NYU and editor of three UC Press anthologies, Globalization, Learning in the Global Era, and Latinos, was invited to speak at a special town hall event on immigration presented by MSNBC’s The Last Word.

As Suárez-Orozco toured Ellis Island with host Lawrence O’Donnell, he discussed our country’s historical relationship to immigration, noting that immigrant populations have always been greeted with suspicion and distrust, from the Irish to Italians to Eastern Europeans. “There’s nothing more apple pie than anxiety and ambivalence,” he says.

Suárez-Orozco argues that fears about immigration tend to spike during times of economic insecurity. Two commonly held beliefs—that immigrants “steal jobs” and bring in crime—aren’t borne out by actual data. In fact, economists have established that immigrants generate a vigorous surplus to the U.S. economy, and are less likely to commit crimes than comparable groups of non-immigrants.

Watch the first video to see Suárez-Orozco’s conversation with Lawrence O’Donnell and his panel appearance with David Shirk of the Trans-Border Institute and actress Rosario Dawson. Then, check out the second video for more of the panel and a discussion of solutions to the debate.