A new report from the UC Collaborative to Promote Immigrant and Student Equity (UC PromISE), co-led by Ethnic Studies Prof. Jennifer Nájera, establishes that immigration policy is disrupting the educational experiences and wellbeing not only of undocumented students, but also those students who are citizens from mixed-status families.
Advancing Equity for Undocumented Students and Students from Mixed-Status Families at the University of California features data from a survey of 2,742 UC undergraduate students and compares the experiences of three groups: undocumented immigrant students, U.S. citizen students with undocumented parents, and U.S. citizen students with immigrant parents who are permanent residents or naturalized citizens. Drawing lessons from undocumented student programs at the UC, it identifies areas of improvement that can aid all universities in advancing equity for all students impacted by immigration policies.
Congratulations to Prof. Alfonso Gonzales Toribio, Ethnic Studies, and Prof. Claudia Holguín Mendoza, Hispanic Studies, on securing a $2.9 million grant from the Mellon Foundation for the new initiative, Latinx Futures: The Civil, Cultural and Political Stakes for Southern California Latinx Communities! More details from the UCR news by Sandra Baltazar Martínex:
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded a $2.9 million grant to UC Riverside — the Foundation’s largest grant yet to the university — meant to support College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences research.
Alfonso Gonzales Toribio, associate professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies, and Claudia Holguín Mendoza, assistant professor in the Department of Hispanic Studies; will lead the “Latinx Futures: The Civil, Cultural and Political Stakes for Southern California Latinx Communities” project under the new Center for Latino and Latin American Studies and Research, poised to be the first of its kind in Southern California based UC campuses. The center is expected to open February 2021.
Latinx Futures is designed as a unique multidisciplinary research project that will bring together community organizations such as Mayavision, a Guatemalan indigenous rights organization; the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice; San Bernardino Community Service Center, Inc.; the Mira Loma Oral History Project; and other regional labor and social justice organizations. The project will also include collaborative opportunities with researchers from universities across the United States, Mexico, and England.
“Through extraordinary collaborative exploration and rigorous humanities-driven inquiry, the Just Futures Initiative will expand our collective understanding of our country’s history,” said Mellon Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander. “We are thrilled that the work of these multidisciplinary teams will propose and implement solutions to real social problems, and also mark new milestones in the effort to better capture the contributions of the many different communities that make up the American story.”
Opening the Latino and Latin American Studies and Research Center at UCR is necessary, Gonzales Toribio said. There are close to 5 million people in the Inland Empire and nearly 50% of that population is Latino.
“Yet, we are marginalized from the institutions of power and our history and experiences in the Inland Empire are virtually absent in the academic literature, in Hollywood, and in the media,” Gonzales Toribio said. “But our dreams, triumphs, and struggles matter. We are launching this project with support from Mellon to better understand our history, social, cultural and political experiences, and to create a more democratic and inclusive future for all in the region.”
Securing the $2.9 million grant is of monumental importance to UCR and to the Latino communities of this region, said Gonzales Toribio, who was born in Tijuana, Mexico and grew up in the working-class community of Mira Loma.
“The time for such a center at one of the nation’s largest Hispanic Serving Institutions is now, and UCR is poised to have one of the first centers of its kind in the UC system,” Gonzales Toribio said.
He noted the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies and Research seeks to study the history, culture, and experiences of Latinos and Latin Americans in general and of Mexicans, Chicanos, and Central Americans that inhabit this region in particular.
The multidisciplinary research projects will be organized into two teams, with support and coordination by the Center.
“Latinx Civil Society” will be led by Gonzales Toribio, the center’s director and principal investigator for Latinx Futures. The project focuses on countering racial authoritarianism in the Inland Empire through building humanistic and civil society structures with community partners. It includes national collaborators at UC Merced, UCLA, University of Texas at Austin, University of Southern California, as well as scholars at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana de México, as well as the London School of Economics in London, England.
“Inclusive Pedagogies for Critical Sociocultural Linguistic Literacy” will be led by Holguín Mendoza, who serves as the project co-principal investigator. This project will harness the power of the research university to counter the systematic racism directed against Latinx language and knowledge. Aiming to dismantle testing and curricula policies that marginalize Latinx language varieties, this research group works to challenge institutions to inclusively reflect the vibrant plurilingualism of borderlands Latinx communities. The team includes collaborators at California State University East Bay, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, University of Oregon, and Western Illinois University.
Latinx Futures will include oral histories, indigenous music and storytelling workshops, community documentary, and the development of ethnic studies curriculums that incorporate insight from some of the leading humanities-based scholars from across the United States and Mexico in partnership with community partners.
Project activities will also include inclusive language and literature workshops with area educators; conferences; visiting scholars, artists and activists; research publications aimed at shifting policy; and robust opportunities for multidisciplinary collaboration, student involvement, and community partnerships.
Holguín Mendoza said this multisite project expands on antiracist research methodologies and pedagogical approaches for linguistic justice.
“Our interdisciplinary team engages in research and educational practices that take into account the complexity of human communication and a deep understanding of how language variations are linked to complex racial relations, among other intersectional social elements,” said Holguín Mendoza. “What brings us together as collaborators is a commitment to counteracting sociolinguistic stigmatization and introducing Latinx students to critical approaches that allow them to take control of their academic and intellectual development.”
Latinx Futures will build the center’s infrastructure so it can serve as a home for visiting artists and scholars, a campus hub for students and faculty, and a point of contact for collaborating local groups.
Gonzales Toribio, Holguín Mendoza, and collaborating researchers support other campus entities to promote equity and justice for Black and indigenous peoples, as well as all working class people of color. The center and these project activities have the support of UCR’s vice chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Mariam Lam; and expand the long-standing community-based research practices conducted by the California Center for Native Nations, known as CCNN, with direct support from Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox.
The project reinforces the centrality of the humanities and UCR’s College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, which serves the majority of UCR’s Latinx and first-generation students, Holguín Mendoza said.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 bookSpecters 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)