Why abuse and neglect of immigrants proliferate in ICE detention, by Prof. Jennifer Nájera

Why abuse and neglect of immigrants proliferate in ICE detention, by Prof. Jennifer Nájera

Publications

Ethnic Studies Prof. Jennifer Nájera published a Los Angeles Times op/ed entitled, “Why Abuse and Neglect of Immigrants Proliferate in Ice Detention.” Excerpt below:

The conditions of detention continue to worsen. In 2017, a nonprofit group filed a complaint against the Department of Homeland Security for sexual assault, abuse and harassment in ICE detention facilities. The Adelanto detention facility in San Bernardino County was listed among the top five facilities in the country with the most sexual assault complaints.

In 2018, people all over the country watched in horror as ICE agents forcibly removed migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. Audio recordings of children crying for their parents and images of kids in cages caused a moral dilemma partially resolved by courts that ordered reunification. But many of these families, though reunited with their children, remain in detention. The cruelty of their condition was revealed in heartbreaking drawings by migrant children released by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The recent whistleblower complaint has prompted a call for an immediate investigation by more than 170 members of Congress. It demonstrates yet again the shortcomings and failures of the Department of Homeland Security and ICE. We need an agency that understands this country’s complex immigration history and the needs of our communities. Central to that mission should be treating migrants with basic human rights.

Read the full article here. Photo by the Associated Press.

Trump’s ‘historic bloc,’ like fascist movements, unifies groups with opposing interests, by Prof. Alfonso Gonzales

Trump’s ‘historic bloc,’ like fascist movements, unifies groups with opposing interests, by Prof. Alfonso Gonzales

Publications

Ethnic Studies Prof. Alfonso Gonzales published a Los Angeles Times op/ed entitled, “Trump’s ‘historic bloc,’ like fascist movements, unifies groups with opposing interests.” Excerpt below:

Although the base of the Trumpian bloc is overwhelmingly white and male, 26% of Latinos support Trump over Biden. Many conservative Latinos identify with macho political posturing, pro-2nd Amendment rhetoric, simple law-and-order solutions to complex problems, demonization of the left and disdain for the Black Lives Matter movement.

This bloc, under the “Make America Great Again” banner, requires its supporters — particularly subordinate groups — to accept a degree of cognitive dissonance in submitting to the emotional appeal to a mythical moment of American greatness. For many of the white working class, that moment is before the rise of the civil rights movement, Latino immigration and multiculturalism, the idea that diverse people should have representation and rights in pluralist society.

For right-wing Latinos, this means ignoring both the historical and the contemporary injustices inflicted on their community, such as the lynching of Mexicans by the Texas Rangers in the 1920s, the deportation of at least 1 million Mexicans in the 1950s, the separation of children from their parents at the border or the alleged coerced hysterectomies of Latina migrant women in immigration detention centers now.

The point of the MAGA slogan is to bury history with its deep class and racial disparities and to conceal the crises of our time: savage inequality, climate change, pandemics and racial conflict.

Racism and xenophobia have historically provided the ideological glue that has kept the white working class supporting the most rabid sectors of the capitalist class and from seeing their fate linked with racial others and immigrants. Even during the current economic disaster, it is easier for many working-class whites to identify with the Trumpian bloc, led by a billionaire rooted in the transnational capital class, than to have a sense of solidarity with Latinos or Black people.

Historic blocs of the right emerge precisely at that moment when the left is strong and when the right decides to stop playing by the rules of liberal democracy, the system for resolving conflicts through representative government and respect for individual rights.

Read the full op/ed here. Photo by Oli Goldsmith via CC 2.0

Feminist Praxis in Ethno-Fiction, by Prof. Emily Hue

Feminist Praxis in Ethno-Fiction, by Prof. Emily Hue

Publications

Ethnic Studies Prof. Emily Hue published, Feminist Praxis in Ethno-Fiction, a review of the film, Nobel Nok Dah, for the Society for Cultural Anthropology. Excerpt below:

Transnational feminist ethnographic film collective, Ethnocine, comprising Emily Hong, Mariangela Mihai, Miasarah Lai, and others, creates a compelling time capsule that deftly weaves between feminist oral history, the ethno-fictive, and touches of the cinematic avant grade, in their short film, Nobel Nok Dah (2015). The film is succinctly named for three Karen women refugees from Myanmar and reflects these women’s stories after their encampment at the Myanmar–Thai border, and subsequent resettlement in the central upstate New York; journeys that also precede Myanmar’s first civilian government elected in 2015 after decades of military rule.1

During the initial years of this ongoing political transition, international aid for refugees and displaced ethnic minority communities in encampments on the Thai–Myanmar border was surreptitiously cut with the rationale that it would be safer for refugees to return to homes from which they fled military violence. However, as noted in the Asia Times, as of April 2019, many Karen refugees and internationally displaced people who returned in post-election years have struggled to re-establish livelihoods amid continued land grabs. In 2019, armed conflict in southeastern Myanmar has also increased, forcing thousands of those recently returned to flee their homes once more. Additionally, international ire around ongoing massacres of Rohingya peoples in Myanmar has cast further doubt on the country’s claims to political transition.

Amid these upheavals, the filmmakers have shed a distinct light onto the microcosmic ways in which cataclysmic world and regional events have shaped recent refugee migrations. Ethnocine necessarily intervenes into topics and approaches not often covered or integrated into films about Southeast Asian communities for U.S. audiences.

Full review here. Photo above by Emily Hong, Miasarah Lai, and Mariangela Mihai.

 

Marguerite Casey Foundation names Prof. Alisa Bierria as a 2020 Freedom Scholar

Marguerite Casey Foundation names Prof. Alisa Bierria as a 2020 Freedom Scholar

Announcements

The Marguerite Casey Foundation launched a new $3 million initiative, the Freedom Scholars, to support social and economic justice scholarship. Ethnic Studies faculty member, Prof. Alisa Bierria, has been named as one of twelve members of the initiative’s inaugural class. Announcement excerpt below:

The nation’s boldest scholars stand at the forefront of movements for economic and social justice – they are creating the catalytic ideas for transformative change. Marguerite Casey Foundation and Group Health Foundation are placing power in the hands of these changemakers through new Freedom Scholars Awards, $250,000 grants that give leaders greater freedom to build a truly representative economy that works for working families and people.

The $3 million Freedom Scholars program is a commitment to scholarship that is rooted in and supports movements led by Black and Indigenous people, migrants, queer and poor people, and People of Color. The awards support scholars who are shifting the balance of power to families and communities that have been historically excluded from the resources and benefits of society. With this award, Marguerite Casey Foundation and Group Health Foundation are recognizing the role that scholars play in cultivating the intellectual infrastructure necessary to nurture movements toward freedom.

Today’s Freedom Scholars work at the forefront of abolitionist, Black, feminist, queer, radical, and anti-colonialist studies and critical fields of research that are often underfunded or ignored. Support for their research, organizing, and academic work is pivotal in this moment when there is a groundswell of support to hold our political and economic leaders accountable.

‘Vivitos y Coleando’: The Cultural Politics of the Paisa Periphery, by Prof. Adrián Félix

‘Vivitos y Coleando’: The Cultural Politics of the Paisa Periphery, by Prof. Adrián Félix

Publications

Prof. Adrián Félix published a review of Charros: How Mexican Cowboys are Remapping Race and American Identity, by Laura Barraclough. Excerpt below:

Octavio Paz once wrote about the zacatecano poet Ramón López Velarde that “irony is his rein and the adjective his spur.” Not so for Barraclough, who is more of a straight shooter; her writing is neither flowery nor poetic, careful not to over-stretch charro metaphors in her prose. However, my main critique of this book is not in its form but rather in its method. True to her formation as a geographer, Barraclough opens the conclusion by stating: “Hover over virtually any city in the U.S. West using the satellite view of a web mapping service, and you will almost certainly spot the distinctive keyhole shape of at least one lienzo charro” (196). Her argument about “place-making”, “vernacular spaces” and “ranchero landscapes” on the “metropolitan fringe” is an important one, as “lienzos offer an important space for cultural affirmation and transnational collectivity” (196) and an “invocation of a shared rural Mexican ranching past left behind” (197). As is the central argument that positions charros as the “original cowboys”: “Asserting the historic presence of ethnic Mexican ranchers and vaqueros as the ‘original cowboys’ in the region that became the U.S. Southwest, they have transformed core narratives of American identity centered on the cowboy, ranching, and the rodeo” (200). Yet for all her focus on “scalar dynamics” and “scaling up”, it would behoove Barraclough to descend from the bird’s eye view, and the historic “long view”, and scale down. It is the task of the ethnographer to, as charros put it, “entrarle al ruedo” (“enter the rodeo ring”), with all of the political ethics that implies, plunging into the depths of the paisano periphery. This, however, would require oral histories and deep ethnography, something Barraclough entirely avoids. Those who are up to the task will find charros not as long-gone historical figures but as living, breathing, flesh-and-bone denizens of the paisano periphery, with all of our contradictions, as the charro adage goes, vivitos y coleando. Alive and bull-tailing.

Read the full review here. Photo courtesy of Al Rendon.

Sep 24: Native American Pedagogies in Remote Teaching

Sep 24: Native American Pedagogies in Remote Teaching

Events

Native American Pedagogies in Remote Teaching: An Initial Discussion led by Prof. Wesley Leonard

Thursday, September 24 at 2:30pm to 4:00pm

More info

Please join the Reclamation and Native American Communities Faculty Commons for an informal discussion on implementing Native American and other Indigenous pedagogies in the current context of remote teaching. Through a series of informal presentations and discussion, we will consider how we can beneficially draw from Indigenous educational traditions in how we design and teach our courses. The final part of the session will turn to a discussion of ideas for a possible 2020-2021 series of events on this topic.

Indigenous pedagogies might be defined as those that emerge from and center the peoplehood, cultures, values, and intellectual traditions of Indigenous communities in relation to the particular places those communities come from. Though pedagogical methods vary across Native American and other Indigenous communities, common are approaches that focus on the whole individual in relational contexts and on the related idea that knowledge is produced and interpreted in the context of relationships. Specific examples of Indigenous pedagogies include teaching through storytelling and through engagement with land.

Registration required:  https://ucr.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUocO2hrjsiG9SJepFFuHMRAH3OhKte_

Ethnic Studies Accomplishments, 2019-20

Ethnic Studies Accomplishments, 2019-20

Announcements

Download Newsletter!

The UCR Ethnic Studies department has faced a number of challenges this year in addressing COVID-19, meeting student needs in the midst of instability and financial precarity, and the impact of racism on our students brought to light by the mass movement in support of Black Lives. We have issued a statement in support of Graduate Students organizing for a living wage and a statement supporting UCR Undergraduate Students Demands to the UCR Administration. We have also begun our community engagement programs which bring together faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students and community members to address the pressing issues of our time.

Despite these challenging times, UCR Ethnic Studies faculty have found creative ways to teach during the campus shut-down. They have also produced path-breaking scholarship while engaged in diverse community organizing projects. Graduate students have won numerous awards this year. They have taken part in a variety of social justice initiatives while pursuing innovative scholarship. UCR Ethnic studies undergraduates have organized a number of successful projects to improve the well-being of the Riverside community and campus life.

Major accomplishments are below. Read the newsletter for our full report!

Image above from the cover of Otherwise Worlds: Against Settler Colonialism and Anti-Black Racism, featuring art by Kimberly Robertson and Jenell Navarro, “Postcard from an Otherwise World”


Faculty News

Wesley Leonard and Adrián Félix were promoted to Associate Professor with tenure.

Andrea Smith published Unreconciled: From Racial Reconciliation to Racial Justice in Christian Evangelicalism (Duke) and Otherwise Worlds: Against Settler Colonialism and Anti-Black Racism (co-edited with Tiffany Lethabo King and Jenell Navarro, Duke). Otherwise Worlds emerged from the Otherwise Worlds Conference at UCR Riverside.

Jennifer Najera published an OpEd in the Los Angeles Times this Fall, “My Grandpa Was a Dreamer Who Crossed the Rio Grande.” This Spring she was selected as an “Outstanding Faculty Mentor” for the University Honors Program.

Edward Chang was awarded the Order of Civil Merit, Magnolia Medal by the Republic of Korea.

Alisa Bierria published “Battering Court System: A Structural Critique of ‘Failure to Protect'” in The Politicization of Safety: Critical Perspectives on Domestic Violence Responses (co-authored with Colby Lenz, NYU Press).

Emily Hue published “Fifteen Years after Buddha Is Hiding: Gesturing Toward the Future in Critical Refugee Studies” in Women’s Studies Quarterly

Wesley Leonard was awarded a $1 million Mellon Grant to support Indigenous Studies at UC Riverside.

More faculty updates here.

Graduate Student News:

Jennifer Martinez won the Outstanding Teaching Assistant award for AY 2019-2020.

Frank Perez and Lawrence Lan were the inaugural recipients of the department’s Edna Bonacich Award for their community engaged research.

Cinthya Martinez was selected for the GRMP next year to further develop her project, “Freedom is a Place: Abolitionist Possibilities in Migrant Women’s Refusals.”

Beth Kopacz won a dissertation fellowship from the American Association of University Women to complete her dissertation, “Molecular Longing: Adopted Koreans and the Navigation of Absence through DNA.”

Jalondra Davis (Ph.D. ’17) was awarded a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship at UC San Diego.

Iris Blake’s publication “The Echo as Decolonial Gesture” will be published in Sound Acts, a special issue of the journal Performance Matters. She will be a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UCLA starting in September.

Ray Pineda’s “Authoritative Voice and Mujerista Mentorship of Dissonant DJs Queering Cumbia Sonidera” will appear in Chicana/Latina Studies: The Journal of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social.

MT Vallarta’s “Toward a Filipinx Method: Queer of Color Critique and QTGNC Mobilization in Mark Aguhar’s Poetics” will be published with The Velvet Light Trap.

Brian Stephens, “Prissy’s Quittin’ Time: The Black Camp Aesthetics of Kara Walker” appears in Open Cultural Studies.

Undergraduate Student Announcements:

Vivienne Lu won the Wilmer and Velma Johnson Ethnic Studies Undergraduate Award. She also won the Sumi Harada Award for graduating joint major with highest GPA.

Violetta Price and Alana Pitman won the Dosan Ahn Chang-Ho Award for the Junior major with the best GPA.

Christina Canales won the Maurice Jackson award for the graduating major with the highest GPA.

Jazmin Jefferson Faten won the Ernesto Galarza Award in recognition of community service.

Joaquin Malta won the Katherine Saubel award for promotion of cultural awareness.

Kyra Byers and Vivienne Lu won the Barnett Grier Award for promoting ethnic awareness.

Maribel Cruz and Sofia Rivas won the Sister Rosa Marta Zarate Award for community service.

More student updates here.

The Migrant Phantoms of the Pandemic, by Prof. Adrián Félix

The Migrant Phantoms of the Pandemic, by Prof. Adrián Félix

Publications

Prof. Adrián Félix published an op/ed, “The Migrant Phantoms of the Pandemic,” in Latino Rebels. Excerpt below:

The climbing death toll of COVID-19 has brought to light an often-overlooked end-of-life ritual among Mexican migrant communities in the U.S.:the repatriation of deceased compatriots from the U.S. to their ancestral homelands in México. Among the many unforeseen tragic consequence of the outbreak, the pandemic is disrupting this long-standing postmortem return migration. Ironically, this immobilization of Mexican migrants in death is symbolic of how they have been excluded in life by the Donald Trump and Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) administrations on both sides of the border.

As the contagion has careened through the planet —painfully laying bare the racial disparities of public health— newspapers like the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times have paid homage to the migrant victims who have been deprived of a proper posthumous homecoming due to the disease.

“Along with intense emotional anguish and a sudden economic void from the loss of crucial providers, their families must endure another blow,” writes the LA Times about families in México grieving their deceased loved ones in the U.S. “The crisis has made it almost impossible to ship bodies back to Mexico for burial.”

In a similar elegiac tone, the NY Times writes of Mexican migrants who have succumbed to the pandemic in New York City: “For the area’s Mexican immigrants —a community already hit hard by the virus— the pandemic has brought another cruel change. Mexican families typically send bodies home, for flower-strewn Catholic burials, and to give relatives the chance to glimpse their loved ones again after long separations.”

In the wake of COVID-19, the NY Times ominously states, “that sacred rite has come to a halt.”

In my 2019 book Specters of Belonging: The Political Life Cycle of Mexican Migrants, I trace these posthumous repatriations across the México-U.S. border and unearth their political significance for México-U.S. migration. As political scientist Osman Balkan so hauntingly puts it in a different ethno-religious migratory context: “Death in the diaspora also raises existential questions about the meaning of home…the act of burial serves as a means to assert belonging, attachment and…loyalty to a particular group, nation, or place.” The necropolitics of this practice reverberate across international boundaries, for, as Balkan asserts, “Experiences with racism, discrimination, or xenophobia generate a feeling of perpetual foreignness, which follows individuals to the grave.”

Image above: The San Isidro cemetery, that the city’s authorities ordered temporarily closed to the public to keep crowds away as a measure to limit the spread of COVID-19 disease, is seen from the air in Mexico City, Sunday, May 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Mutual Aid Spotlight, Interview with Prof. Alisa Bierria

Mutual Aid Spotlight, Interview with Prof. Alisa Bierria

Publications

Prof. Alisa Bierria was interviewed by the Black Agenda Report about mutual aid as an organizing practice. Excerpt below:

 How does this work fit into the broader struggle for change you are working on? How does it mobilize for change rather than merely being a “band aid” on a harmful system?

I was a member of the #FreeBresha participatory defense campaign to free Bresha Meadows, a Black girl who was only 14 years old when she fatally shot her physically and sexually abusive father. Bresha attempted to get help from multiple authorities before the shooting, all of whom failed to help her. So, she acted on her own to defend her life. In a recent interview, Bresha said it never occurred to her that she would go to jail. She thought it would be obvious that she was acting in self-defense, and everyone would agree.

It’s remarkable and powerful to me that Bresha thought it would be obvious that jailing her for saving her life would be out of the question. Because the principle of punishment occupies so much of our instinct here in the U.S., this is, disturbingly, incorrect. I think “reason” is a landscape on which mutual aid can have a profound impact. Bresha’s story reveals that mutual aid in the form of defense campaigns has to be about more than decarceration and more than ensuring material needs are met; mutual aid is about creating a radical shift in what we think is reasonable to expect. In the participatory defense campaigns I’ve worked on, we’ve used a number of strategies — media advocacyartpolitical educationresearchforegrounding survivors’ narratives of their own lives and choices — to make a case that incarcerating survivors for navigating conditions of violence is actually horrifying,  doing so should be out of the question,  and freeing incarcerated survivors is an obvious moral imperative.  Mutual aid has the potential to transform “common sense.”

Do you think mutual aid work has any special or particular role in the current conditions/crises?

In light of the pandemic, we have seen an extraordinary emergence of mutual aid strategies around the world.  These efforts provide opportunities for people to support each other and be provided with what they need, build community networks, and participate in political education, all key components of mutual aid praxis. They also shine a light on life-saving mutual aid work that existed before  the pandemic. For example, organizations like the California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP)  have been able to respond quickly to the Covid-19 crisis in prisons because, through decades of supporting, learning from, and building networks with people across prison walls, their members have built an infrastructure of relationships and skills that challenge the health crisis of prison itself. Mutual aid practices address immediate and ongoing needs while equipping us to recognize and respond to future needs.

 But I’m also interested in how people have used the crisis to ask important questions about capitalism. For exampleif states can release  thousands of people from jails to avoid worsening a pandemic, do we even need jails at all? Does the current  rent-strike  raise questions about whether rent is necessary to have housing? Does the  suspension  of federal student loan payments suggest that it’s within our reach to permanently cancel multiple forms of debt? Also, the way the pandemic has shone a light on the ease in which the U.S. treats immigrants, poor people and people without stable and safe housing, incarcerated people in all forms of lock-up, elders and disabled people, Black women, etc. as essentially disposable may not be surprising to many of us, but is always devastating. Under Covid-19, we’ve learned more about vulnerability, collective capacity, and how things that seem permanent (good or bad) can actually become quickly unsettled. I’m hoping we can use those insights to take a fresh look at things like Universal Basic Income, prison abolition, profound racism in the healthcare industry, disability justice, and safe and accessible housing.

Art above by Josh MacPhee

Prof. Ed Chang receives the Order of Civil Merit from Korea

Prof. Ed Chang receives the Order of Civil Merit from Korea

Announcements

From CHASS news:

At 18, UC Riverside Professor Edward Chang immigrated to the United States. He had two goals: To learn English and get an education. Decades later, Chang has been awarded the Order of Civil Merit, one of the highest medals from the Republic of Korea, for his academic research promoting Korean culture in both the U.S. and South Korea.

The Order of Civil Merit is the fourth-highest medal given by the South Korean government. It is an annual award based on the recipient’s extensive services in the areas of politics, society, economy, education, art, or science in the interest of promoting national development.

Chang, a professor of ethnic studies and founding director of UCR’s Young Oak Kim Center for Korean American Studies (YOK), received his award for his academic research of Riverside’s Pachappa Camp at a ceremony in San Bernardino’s Koreatown in October 2019.

Through research, Chang discovered that the Pachappa Camp on Cottage Street in Riverside was the first Korean settlement in the United States.  The City of Riverside recognized the camp as its first point of cultural and historical interest in 2016 with a sign at the camp’s former location. Chang described it as one of the most important projects of his career.

“The Pachappa Camp was previously unknown until I published a book last year. No one knew of its existence, in Korea or the U.S…” Chang said. “I began to understand this is the first and largest Korean settlement at the time. It was a mecca of Korean independence and held sentiments of a family-based community…In a sense, it laid the groundwork for the early Korean-American immigrants.”

Chang’s project began with a Riverside map from 1905 which showed a Korean settlement. The area was founded by Korean independence activist Ahn Chang Ho. The community thrived, with job opportunities, religious services, and families with about 100 people calling it home until 1918. Chang and his research team confirmed the existence of the Pachappa Camp by collecting historical newspaper articles, a membership list from a local Korean church, and checking tombstones at a nearby cemetery.

Chang has also left a large impact on UCR’s campus by founding the Young Oak Kim Center for Korean American Studies in 2010. It was established for faculty and students to continue studying the culture and heritage of Korean-Americans.

Chang named the center after Young Oak Kim, who was a second-generation Korean-American who fought during World War 2 and the Korean War. Kim was a war hero who fought for the rights of minorities, women, orphans, and adoptees. Chang described Kim as a champion of civil rights who served as a role model for future generations.

“Working at the center helped me when I studied abroad in South Korea earlier this year,” said Jacqueline Aguirre De La O, a student intern at the YOK Center. “His research solidified my knowledge of Korean-American migration by moving away from the black-and-white binary, which I implement into my own courses in sociology.”

“Because of Professor Chang’s guidance and tutelage, I have really flourished and grown,” said Carol Park, YOK Center Administrative Assistant and Researcher. “Without his instruction and mentorship, I don’t think I would be where I am today. He is the kind of professor that most students dream to have.”


FEATURED PHOTO. Photo courtesy of Tanner Sebastian/CHASS Marketing & Communications.
Professor of Ethnic Studies Edward Chang celebrates his 2019 award for his research on Riverside’s Pachappa Camp, the first Korean settlement in the United States.