Several contributors illuminate ways that Latinos and Asians were historically racialized: by U.S. occupiers of Puerto Rico and the Philippines at the end of the nineteenth century, by public health discourses and practices in early-twentieth-century Los Angeles, by anthropologists collecting physical data—height, weight, head measurements—from Chinese Americans to show how the American environment affected “foreign” body types in the 1930s, and by Los Angeles public officials seeking to explain the alleged criminal propensities of Mexican American youth during the 1940s. Other contributors focus on the coalitions and tensions between Latinos and Asians in the context of the fight to integrate public schools and debates over political redistricting. One addresses masculinity, race, and U.S. imperialism in the literary works of Junot Díaz and Chang-rae Lee. Another looks at the passions, identifications, and charges of betrayal aroused by the sensationalized cases of Elián González, the young Cuban boy rescued off the shore of Florida, and Wen Ho Lee, the Los Alamos physicist accused of spying on the United States. Throughout this volume contributors interrogate many of the assumptions that underlie American and ethnic studies even as they signal the need for a research agenda that expands the purview of both fields.
Contributors. Nicholas De Genova, Victor Jew, Andrea Levine, Natalia Molina, Gary Y. Okihiro, Crystal Parikh, Greg Robinson, Toni Robinson, Leland T. Saito
Nicholas De Genova is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Latino Studies at Columbia University. He is the author of Working the Boundaries: Race, Space, and “Illegality” in Mexican Chicago, also published by Duke University Press, and a coauthor of Latino Crossings: Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and the Politics of Race and Citizenship.
De Genova worked for two and a half years as a teacher of English in ten industrial workplaces (primarily metal-fabricating factories) throughout Chicago and its suburbs. In Working the Boundaries he draws on fieldwork conducted in these factories, in community centers, and in the homes and neighborhoods of Mexican migrants. He describes how the meaning of “Mexican” is refigured and racialized in relation to a U.S. social order dominated by a black-white binary. Delving into immigration law, he contends that immigration policies have worked over time to produce Mexicans as the U.S. nation-state’s iconic “illegal aliens.” He explains how the constant threat of deportation is used to keep Mexican workers in line. Working the Boundaries is a major contribution to theories of race and transnationalism and a scathing indictment of U.S. labor and citizenship policies.