2023 SANA Book Award, Society for the Anthropology of North America
2023 Honorable Mention, Outstanding Book Award NACCS Tejas Foco Award for Non-Fiction, National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies
2022 Nonfiction Discovery Prize, Writers' League of Texas
An intimate portrayal of the hardships faced by an undocumented family navigating the medical and educational systems in the United States.
Claudia Garcia crossed the border because her toddler, Natalia, could not hear. Leaving behind everything she knew in Mexico, Claudia recounts the terror of migrating alone with her toddler and the incredible challenges she faced advocating for her daughter’s health in the United States. When she arrived in Texas, Claudia discovered that being undocumented would mean more than just an immigration status—it would be a way of living, of mothering, and of being discarded by even those institutions we count on to care.
Elizabeth Farfán-Santos spent five years with Claudia. As she listened to Claudia’s experiences, she recalled her own mother’s story, another life molded by migration, the US-Mexico border, and the quest for a healthy future on either side. Witnessing Claudia’s struggles with doctors and teachers, we see how the education and medical systems enforce undocumented status and perpetuate disability. At one point, in the midst of advocating for her daughter, Claudia suddenly finds herself struck by debilitating pain. Claudia is lifted up by her comadres, sent to the doctor, and reminded why she must care for herself.
A braided narrative that speaks to the power of stories for creating connection, this book reveals what remains undocumented in the motherhood of Mexican women who find themselves making impossible decisions and multiple sacrifices as they build a future for their families.
Using the U.S. wall at the border with Mexico as a focal point, two experts examine the global surge of economic and environmental refugees, presenting a new vision of the relationships between citizen and migrant in an era of “Juan Crow,” which systematically creates a perpetual undercaste.
Winner, National Association for Ethnic Studies (NAES) Outstanding Book Award, 2017
As increasing global economic disparities, violence, and climate change provoke a rising tide of forced migration, many countries and local communities are responding by building walls—literal and metaphorical—between citizens and newcomers. Up Against the Wall: Re-imagining the U.S.-Mexico Border examines the temptation to construct such walls through a penetrating analysis of the U.S. wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as investigating the walling out of Mexicans in local communities. Calling into question the building of a wall against a friendly neighboring nation, Up Against the Wall offers an analysis of the differences between borders and boundaries. This analysis opens the way to envisioning alternatives to the stark and policed divisions that are imposed by walls of all kinds. Tracing the consequences of imperialism and colonization as citizens grapple with new migrant neighbors, the book paints compelling examples from key locales affected by the wall—Nogales, Arizona vs. Nogales, Sonora; Tijuana/San Diego; and the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. An extended case study of Santa Barbara describes the creation of an internal colony in the aftermath of the U.S. conquest of Mexican land, a history that is relevant to many U.S. cities and towns.
Ranging from human rights issues in the wake of massive global migration to the role of national restorative shame in the United States for the treatment of Mexicans since 1848, the authors delve into the broad repercussions of the unjust and often tragic consequences of excluding others through walled structures along with the withholding of citizenship and full societal inclusion. Through the lens of a detailed examination of forced migration from Mexico to the United States, this transdisciplinary text, drawing on philosophy, psychology, and political theory, opens up multiple insights into how nations and communities can coexist with more justice and more compassion.
The U.S.-Mexico Transborder Region presents advanced anthropological theorizing of culture in an important regional setting. Not a static entity, the transborder region is peopled by ever-changing groups who face the challenges of social inequality: political enforcement of privilege, economic subordination of indigenous communities, and organized resistance to domination.
The book, influenced by the work of Eric Wolf and senior editor Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez, centers on the greater Mexican North/U.S. Southwest, although the geographic range extends farther. This tradition, like other transborder approaches, attends to complex and fluid cultural and linguistic processes, going beyond the classical modern anthropological vision of one people, one culture, one language. With respect to recent approaches, however, it is more deeply social, focusing on vertical relations of power and horizontal bonds of mutuality.
Vélez-Ibáñez and Heyman envision this region as involving diverse and unequal social groups in dynamic motion over thousands of years. Thus the historical interaction of the U.S.-Mexico border, however massively unequal and powerful, is only the most recent manifestation of this longer history and common ecology. Contributors emphasize the dynamic “transborder” quality—conflicts, resistance, slanting, displacements, and persistence—in order to combine a critical perspective on unequal power relations with a questioning perspective on claims to bounded simplicity and perfection.
The book is notable for its high degree of connection across the various chapters, strengthened by internal syntheses from notable border scholars, including Robert R. Alvarez and Alejandro Lugo. In the final section, Judith Freidenberg draws general lessons from particular case studies, summarizing that “access to valued scarce resources prompts the erection of human differences that get solidified into borders,” dividing and limiting, engendering vulnerabilities and marginalizing some people.
At a time when understanding the U.S.-Mexico border is more important than ever, this volume offers a critical anthropological and historical approach to working in transborder regions.
Robert R. Álvarez
Margaret E. Dorsey
Jane H. Hill
Guillermina Gina Núñez-Mchiri
Anna Ochoa O’Leary
Luis F. B. Plascencia
Thomas E. Sheridan
Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez
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