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Adopted Territory
Transnational Korean Adoptees and the Politics of Belonging
Eleana J. Kim
Duke University Press, 2010
Since the end of the Korean War, an estimated 200,000 children from South Korea have been adopted into white families in North America, Europe, and Australia. While these transnational adoptions were initiated as an emergency measure to find homes for mixed-race children born in the aftermath of the war, the practice grew exponentially from the 1960s through the 1980s. At the height of South Korea’s “economic miracle,” adoption became an institutionalized way of dealing with poor and illegitimate children. Most of the adoptees were raised with little exposure to Koreans or other Korean adoptees, but as adults, through global flows of communication, media, and travel, they have come into increasing contact with each other, Korean culture, and the South Korean state. Since the 1990s, as Korean children have continued to leave to be adopted in the West, a growing number of adult adoptees have been returning to Korea to seek their cultural and biological origins. In this fascinating ethnography, Eleana J. Kim examines the history of Korean adoption, the emergence of a distinctive adoptee collective identity, and adoptee returns to Korea in relation to South Korean modernity and globalization. Kim draws on interviews with adult adoptees, social workers, NGO volunteers, adoptee activists, scholars, and journalists in the U.S., Europe, and South Korea, as well as on observations at international adoptee conferences, regional organization meetings, and government-sponsored motherland tours.

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AfroSwedish Places of Belonging
Nana Osei-Kofi
Northwestern University Press, 2024
This is a work of cultural studies rooted in critical feminist thought that grapples with AfroSwedishness in relation to processes and experiences of racialization, imagination of self, and notions of belonging, agency, and kinship. Nana Osei-Kofi focuses on the function of diverse forms of critical cultural expressions, paying particular attention to their liberatory public pedagogical potential. Drawing from biographical narratives, documentary film, digital Black feminism, and queer organizing, Osei-Kofi offers insights into the embodied, affective, and experiential processes through which the formation of an emergent AfroSwedish coalitional identity is made possible. Through self-reflexive, structural, and community-based forms of exploration that resist binary oppositions, AfroSwedish Places of Belonging asks what the nomenclature of AfroSwede, AfroSwedish, and AfroSwedishness brings into being, what it makes possible, and what this means for Swedish society from both a historical and a contemporary perspective. This work brings together two identity categories that have historically been constructed as not only mutually exclusive but oppositional to detail the emergence of AfroSwedishness as a counterhegemonic and coalitional act. AfroSwedishness, Osei-Kofi argues, must be understood as a coalitional identity, one made legible through kinship-based community.

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Barriers and Belonging
Personal Narratives of Disability
Michelle Jarman
Temple University Press, 2017

What is the direct impact that disability studies has on the lives of disabled people today? The editors and contributors to this essential anthology, Barriers and Belonging, provide thirty-seven personal narratives thatexplore what it means to be disabled and why the field of disability studies matters. 

The editors frame the volume by introducing foundational themes of disability studies. They provide a context of how institutions—including the family, schools, government, and disability peer organizations—shape and transform ideas about disability. They explore how disability informs personal identity, interpersonal and community relationships, and political commitments. In addition, there are heartfelt reflections on living with mobility disabilities, blindness, deafness, pain, autism, psychological disabilities, and other issues. Other essays articulate activist and pride orientations toward disability, demonstrating the importance of reframing traditional narratives of sorrow and medicalization. 

The critical, self-reflective essays in Barriers and Belonging provide unique insights into the range and complexity of disability experience.


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Beautiful Cosmos
Performance and Belonging in the Caribbean Diaspora
Tina K. Ramnarine
Pluto Press, 2007
What are the musical sounds that people remember in the diaspora? What are the sounds they create? Recognizing the importance that people attach to musical performances, this book explores the significance of widespread Caribbean genres in diaspora politics. Ramnarine uses ethnographic approaches to unravel creative processes of memory, innovation and production and to interrogate geographies of musical canons, hybridity discourses and culture theory. She challenges us to rethink diaspora as only being about displacement, to move beyond the limits of marginalization and otherness, and to imagine the possibilities of "beautiful cosmos". Asking "where is home in the diaspora?" this book presents radical perspectives in the study of diaspora.

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Being and Belonging
Muslims in the United States since 9/11
Katherine Pratt Ewing
Russell Sage Foundation, 2008
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, instantly transformed many ordinary Muslim and Arab Americans into suspected terrorists. In the weeks and months following the attacks, Muslims in the United States faced a frighteningly altered social climate consisting of heightened surveillance, interrogation, and harassment. In the long run, however, the backlash has been more complicated. In Being and Belonging, Katherine Pratt Ewing leads a group of anthropologists, sociologists, and cultural studies experts in exploring how the events of September 11th have affected the quest for belonging and identity among Muslims in America—for better and for worse. From Chicago to Detroit to San Francisco, Being and Belonging takes readers on an extensive tour of Muslim America—inside mosques, through high school hallways, and along inner city streets.  Jen'nan Ghazal Read compares the experiences of Arab Muslims and Arab Christians in Houston and finds that the events of 9/11 created a "cultural wedge" dividing Arab Americans along religious lines. While Arab Christians highlighted their religious affiliation as a means of distancing themselves from the perceived terrorist sympathies of Islam, Muslims quickly found that their religious affiliation served as a barrier, rather than a bridge, to social and political integration. Katherine Pratt Ewing and Marguerite Hoyler document the way South Asian Muslim youth in Raleigh, North Carolina, actively contested the prevailing notion that one cannot be both Muslim and American by asserting their religious identities more powerfully than they might have before the terrorist acts, while still identifying themselves as fully American. Sally Howell and Amaney Jamal distinguish between national and local responses to terrorism. In striking contrast to the erosion of civil rights, ethnic profiling, and surveillance set into motion by the federal government, well-established Muslim community leaders in Detroit used their influence in law enforcement, media, and social services to empower the community and protect civil rights. Craig Joseph and Barnaby Riedel analyze how an Islamic private school in Chicago responded to both September 11 and the increasing ethnic diversity of its student body by adopting a secular character education program to instruct children in universal values rather than religious doctrine. In a series of poignant interviews, the school's students articulate a clear understanding that while 9/11 left deep wounds on their community, it also created a valuable opportunity to teach the nation about Islam. The rich ethnographies in this volume link 9/11 and its effects to the experiences of a group that was struggling to be included in the American mainstream long before that fateful day. Many Muslim communities never had a chance to tell their stories after September 11. In Being and Belonging, they get that chance.

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Virginia Tibbs-Brelje
Gallaudet University Press, 1986
"A 1987 Outstanding Book for Young Adults" --University of Iowa Poll "Gustie Blaine is 15 when she contracts meningitis. After a long recovery period during which she loses the small amount of residual hearing she had seemed to retain, Gustie tries to pick up the pieces of her life. Her parents are unrealistic and over protective; her best friend rejects her; her teachers run the gamut from being convinced Gustie cannot function in the mainstream to being supportive... through a new boyfriend who has a deaf brother and sister-in-law, and through Gustie's visit with an understanding special education teacher to a class of predominately congenitally deaf students, readers are made aware of the tremendous range of difference among deaf and hard of hearing people, the ways in which they communicate and the technical aids available to them. Realistic and involving...[Young Adults] will identify with Gustie and her wish to belong; the book should touch them and be popular." --School Library Journal Virginia M. Scott is a writer. Like Gustie, the main character in her novel, Ms. Scott became deaf as an adolescent.

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Belonging and Betrayal
How Jews Made the Art World Modern
Charles Dellheim
Brandeis University Press, 2021
The story of dealers of Old Masters, champions of modern art, and victims of Nazi plunder.
Since the late-1990s, the fate of Nazi stolen art has become a cause célèbre. In Belonging and Betrayal, Charles Dellheim turns this story on its head by revealing how certain Jewish outsiders came to acquire so many old and modern masterpieces in the first place – and what this reveals about Jews, art, and modernity. This book tells the epic story of the fortunes and misfortunes of a small number of eminent art dealers and collectors who, against the odds, played a pivotal role in the migration of works of art from Europe to the United States and in the triumph of modern art. Beautifully written and compellingly told, this story takes place on both sides of the Atlantic from the late nineteenth century to the present. It is set against the backdrop of critical transformations, among them the gradual opening of European high culture, the ambiguities of Jewish acculturation, the massive sell-off of aristocratic family art collections, the emergence of different schools of modern art, the cultural impact of World War I, and the Nazi war against the Jews.

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Belonging, Identity, and Conflict in the Central African Republic
Gino Vlavonou
University of Wisconsin Press, 2023
Political conflict in many parts of the world has been shaped by notions of who rightfully belongs to a place. The concept of autochthony—that a true, original people are born of a land and belong to it above all others—has animated struggles across postcolonial Africa. But is this sense of rootedness from time immemorial necessary to assertions of original being and thus political supremacy? Belonging, Identity, and Conflict in the Central African Republic examines how political conflict unfolds when the language of autochthony is detached from historical land claims. 

Focusing on violent struggles in the Central African Republic between 2012 and 2019, Gino Vlavonou explores the social practices, discursive strategies, and government policies that emerged in the relentless project of African state building. Conflict pitted Christian-animist communities, loosely organized as vigilante groups under the name anti-Balaka, against Muslim rebels known as the Séléka. Fighters of the anti-Balaka claimed that they were autochthonous, the “true Central Africans,” reframing their Muslim neighbors as foreigners to be expelled. While the country had previously witnessed episodes of violence, both peoples had lived together relatively peacefully and intermarried. The speed and ferocity with which identity was weaponized puzzled many observers. To understand this phenomenon, Vlavonou probes autochthony as a category of identity that differs from ethnicity in important ways. He argues that elites and ordinary citizens alike mobilize the language of original belonging as “identity capital,” a resource to be deployed. The value of that capital is lodged in what people say and do every day to give meaning to their identity, and its content changes across time and space. 

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Belonging in an Adopted World
Race, Identity, and Transnational Adoption
Barbara Yngvesson
University of Chicago Press, 2010

Since the early 1990s, transnational adoptions have increased at an astonishing rate, not only in the United States, but worldwide. In Belonging in an Adopted World, Barbara Yngvesson offers a penetrating exploration of the consequences and implications of this unprecedented movement of children, usually from poor nations to the affluent West. Yngvesson illuminates how the politics of adoption policy has profoundly affected the families, nations, and children involved in this new form of social and economic migration.

Starting from the transformation of the abandoned child into an adoptable resource for nations that give and receive children in adoption, this volume examines the ramifications of such gifts, especially for families created through adoption and later, the adopted adults themselves. Bolstered by an account of the author’s own experience as an adoptive parent, and fully attuned to the contradictions of race that shape our complex forms of family, Belonging in an Adopted World explores the fictions that sustain adoptive kinship, ultimately exposing the vulnerability and contingency behind all human identity.


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Dick Davis
Ohio University Press, 2002

There are worlds within our own in which even the smallest victories are hard won, the tender moment is almost unbearable, and the understated rings like a bell. Belonging, a new collection by British poet Dick Davis, is an extended visit to these worlds.

Deepened by his dry wit and the formal rigor of his verse, the poems of Belonging negotiate their way among personal and political divides—generations in a family, man and woman, and the tentative present and our inherited pasts.

But behind much of the writing there is also a desire for a kind of idealized belonging—to a clerisy of civilized and humane decency which can be found intermittently in all cultures and is the monopoly of none. Davis’s own cosmopolitan background provides the context for many of the poems, yet he is concerned always to find the humanly universal within the local and anecdotal—a hope realized in these careful and incandescent poems.


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Belonging to the Nation
Inclusion and Exclusion in the Polish-German Borderlands, 1939–1951
John J. Kulczycki
Harvard University Press, 2016

When the Nazis annexed western Poland in 1939, they quickly set about identifying Polish citizens of German origin and granting them the privileged legal status of ethnic Germans of the Reich. Following Germany’s defeat in World War II, Soviet-dominated Poland incorporated eastern Germany and proceeded to do just the opposite: searching out Germans of Polish origin and offering them Polish citizenship. Underscoring the processes of inclusion and exclusion that mold national communities, Belonging to the Nation examines the efforts of Nazi Germany and postwar Poland to nationalize inhabitants of the contested Polish-German borderlands.

Histories of the experience of national minorities in the twentieth century often concentrate on the grim logic of ethnic cleansing. John Kulczycki approaches his topic from a different angle, focusing on how governments decide which minorities to include, not expel. The policies Germany and Poland pursued from 1939 to 1951 bear striking similarities. Both Nazis and Communist Poles regarded national identity as biologically determined—and both found this principle difficult to enforce. Practical impediments to proving a person’s ethnic descent meant that officials sometimes resorted to telltale cultural behaviors in making assessments of nationality. Although the goal was to create an ethnically homogeneous nation, Germany and Poland allowed pockets of minorities to remain, usually to exploit their labor. Kulczycki illustrates the complexity of the process behind national self-determination, the obstacles it confronts in practice, and the resulting injustices.


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Bhangra and Asian Underground
South Asian Music and the Politics of Belonging in Britain
Falu Bakrania
Duke University Press, 2013
Asian Underground music—a fusion of South Asian genres with western breakbeats created for the dance club scene by DJs and musicians of Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi descent—went mainstream in the U.K. in the late 1990s. Its success was unprecedented: British bhangra, a blend of Punjabi folk music with hip-hop musical elements, was enormously popular among South Asian communities but had yet to become mainstream. For many, the widespread attention to Asian Underground music signaled the emergence of a supposedly new, tolerant, and multicultural Britain that could finally accept South Asians. Interweaving ethnography and theory, Falu Bakrania examines the social life of British Asian musical culture to reveal a more complex and contradictory story of South Asian belonging in Britain. Analyzing the production of bhangra and Asian Underground music by male artists and its consumption by female club-goers, Bakrania shows that gender, sexuality, and class intersected in ways that profoundly shaped how young people interpreted “British” and “Asian” identity and negotiated, sometimes violently, contests about ethnic authenticity, sexual morality, individual expression, and political empowerment.


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BITS of Belonging
Information Technology, Water, and Neoliberal Governance in India
Simanti Dasgupta
Temple University Press, 2015

India’s global success in the Information Technology industry has also prompted the growth of neoliberalism and the re-emergence of the middle class in contemporary urban areas, such as Bangalore. In her significant study, BITS of Belonging, Simanti Dasgupta shows that this economic shift produces new forms of social inequality while reinforcing older ones. She investigates this economic disparity by looking at IT and water privatization to explain how these otherwise unrelated domains correspond to our thinking about citizenship, governance, and belonging. 

Dasgupta’s ethnographic study shows how work and human processes in the IT industry intertwine to meet the market stipulations of the global economy. Meanwhile, in the recasting of water from a public good to a commodity, the middle class insists on a governance and citizenship model based upon market participation. Dasgupta provides a critical analysis of the grassroots activism involved in a contested water project where different classes lay their divergent claims to the city.


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The Black Side of the River
Race, Language, and Belonging in Washington, DC
Georgetown University Press

An insightful exploration of the impact of urban change on Black culture, identity, and language

Across the United States, cities are changing. Gentrification is transforming urban landscapes, often pushing local Black populations to the margins. As a result, communities with rich histories and strong identities grapple with essential questions. What does it mean to be from a place in flux? What does it mean to be a specific kind of person from that place? What does gentrification mean for the fabric of a community?

In The Black Side of the River, sociolinguist Jessi Grieser draws on ten years of interviews with dozens of residents of Anacostia, a historically Black neighborhood in Washington, DC, to explore these ideas through the lens of language use. Grieser finds that residents use certain speech features to create connections among racial, place, and class identities; reject negative characterizations of place from those outside the community; and negotiate ideas of belonging. In a neighborhood undergoing substantial class gentrification while remaining decisively Black, Grieser finds that Anacostians use language to assert a positive, hopeful place identity that is inextricably intertwined with their racial one.

Grieser’s work is a call to center Black lived experiences in urban research, confront the racial effects of urban change, and preserve the rich culture and community in historic Black neighborhoods, in Washington, DC, and beyond.


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Black Space
Negotiating Race, Diversity, and Belonging in the Ivory Tower
Sherry L. Deckman
Rutgers University Press, 2022
Protests against racial injustice and anti-Blackness have swept across elite colleges and universities in recent years, exposing systemic racism and raising questions about what it means for Black students to belong at these institutions. In Black Space, Sherry L. Deckman takes us into the lives of the members of the Kuumba Singers, a Black student organization at Harvard with racially diverse members, and a self-proclaimed safe space for anyone but particularly Black students. Uniquely focusing on Black students in an elite space where they are the majority, Deckman provides a case study in how colleges and universities might reimagine safe spaces. Through rich description and sharing moments in students’ everyday lives, Deckman demonstrates the possibilities and challenges Black students face as they navigate campus culture and the refuge they find in this organization. This work illuminates ways administrators, faculty, student affairs staff, and indeed, students themselves, might productively address issues of difference and anti-Blackness for the purpose of fostering critically inclusive campus environments.

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Born to Belonging
Writings on Spirit and Justice
Mab Segrest
Rutgers University Press, 2002
Veteran activist Mab Segrest takes readers along on her travels to view a world experiencing extraordinary change. As she moves from place to place, she speculates on the effects of globalization and urban development on individuals, examines the struggles for racial, economic, and sexual equality, and narrates her own history as a lesbian in the American South. From the principle that we all belong to the human community, Segrest uses her personal experience as a filter for larger political and cultural issues. Her writings bring together such groups as the Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina, fledging gay rights activists in Zimbabwe, and resistance fighters in El Salvador. Segrest expertly plumbs her own personal experiences for organizing principles and maxims to combat racism, homophobia, sexism, and economic exploitation.


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Moving, Building, and Belonging in an African City
Caroline Melly
University of Chicago Press, 2017
In Bottleneck, anthropologist Caroline Melly uses the problem of traffic bottlenecks to launch a wide-ranging study of mobility in contemporary urban Senegal—a concept that she argues is central to both citizens' and the state's visions of a successful future.
Melly opens with an account of the generation of urban men who came of age on the heels of the era of structural adjustment, a diverse cohort with great dreams of building, moving, and belonging, but frustratingly few opportunities to do so. From there, she moves to a close study of taxi drivers and state workers, and shows how bottlenecks—physical and institutional—affect both. The third section of the book covers a seemingly stalled state effort to solve housing problems by building large numbers of concrete houses, while the fourth takes up the thousands of migrants who attempt, sometimes with tragic results, to cross the Mediterranean on rickety boats in search of new opportunities. The resulting book offers a remarkable portrait of contemporary Senegal and a means of theorizing mobility and its impossibilities far beyond the African continent.

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Caribbean American Narratives of Belonging
Vivian Nun Halloran
The Ohio State University Press, 2023

In Caribbean American Narratives of Belonging, Vivian Nun Halloran analyzes memoirs, picture books, comic books, young adult novels, musicals, and television shows through which Caribbean Americans recount and celebrate their contributions to contemporary politics, culture, and activism in the United States. The writers, civil servants, illustrators, performers, and entertainers whose work is discussed here show what it is like to fit in and be included within the body politic. From civic memoirs by Sonia Sotomayor and others, to West Side Story, Hamilton, and Into the Spider-Verse, these texts share a forward-looking perspective, distinct from the more nostalgic rhetoric of traditional diasporic texts that privilege connections to the islands of origin. 

There is no one way of being Caribbean. Diasporic communities exhibit a broad spectrum of ethnic, racial, religious, linguistic, and political qualities. Claiming a Caribbean American identity asks wider society to recognize and affirm hybridity in ways that challenge binaristic conceptions of race and nationality. Halloran provides a common language and critical framework to discuss the achievements of members of the Caribbean diaspora and their considerable cultural and political capital as evident in their contributions to literature and popular culture. 


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Citizenship, Belonging, and Political Community in Africa
Dialogues between Past and Present
Emma Hunter
Ohio University Press, 2016

Africa, it is often said, is suffering from a crisis of citizenship. At the heart of the contemporary debates this apparent crisis has provoked lie dynamic relations between the present and the past, between political theory and political practice, and between legal categories and lived experience. Yet studies of citizenship in Africa have often tended to foreshorten historical time and privilege the present at the expense of the deeper past.

Citizenship, Belonging, and Political Community in Africa provides a critical reflection on citizenship in Africa by bringing together scholars working with very different case studies and with very different understandings of what is meant by citizenship. By bringing historians and social scientists into dialogue within the same volume, it argues that a revised reading of the past can offer powerful new perspectives on the present, in ways that might also indicate new paths for the future.

The project collects the works of up-and-coming and established scholars from around the globe. Presenting case studies from such wide-ranging countries as Sudan, Mauritius, South Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, and Ethiopia, the essays delve into the many facets of citizenship and agency as they have been expressed in the colonial and postcolonial eras. In so doing, they engage in exciting ways with the watershed book in the field, Mahmood Mamdani’s Citizen and Subject.

Contributors: Samantha Balaton-Chrimes, Frederick Cooper, Solomon M. Gofie, V. Adefemi Isumonah, Cherry Leonardi, John Lonsdale, Eghosa E.Osaghae, Ramola Ramtohul, Aidan Russell, Nicole Ulrich, Chris Vaughan, and Henri-Michel Yéré.


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Citizenship, Democracy and Belonging in Suburban Britain
Making the Local
David Jeevendrampillai
University College London, 2021
Examines how suburbanites form community in the face of neoliberal isolation.
An activist group in outer London’s Surbiton suburb, the Seething Villagers commemorate a fictional local history through tongue-in-cheek community festivals. These admittedly “stupid” gatherings celebrate a mythical village of Seething and its many adventures, including a run-in with a mountain-crushing giant. Citizenship, Democracy and Belonging in Suburban Britain explores how the Seething Villagers and other suburbanite fantasies fashion community in the face of neoliberal isolation. By taking the artists’ playfulness seriously, David Jeevendrampillai demonstrates how suburbanites develop fellow-feeling without access to traditional community centers.

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Citizenship, Political Engagement, and Belonging
Immigrants in Europe and the United States
Reed-Danahay, Deborah
Rutgers University Press, 2008

Immigration is continuously and rapidly changing the face of Western countries. While newcomers are harbingers of change, host nations also participate in how new populations are incorporated into their social and political fabric.

Bringing together a transcontinental group of anthropologists, this book provides an in-depth look at the current processes of immigration, political behavior, and citizenship in both the United States and Europe. Essays draw on issues of race, national identity, religion, and more, while addressing questions, including: How should citizenship be defined? In what ways do immigrants use the political process to achieve group aims? And, how do adults and youth learn to become active participants in the public sphere?

Among numerous case studies, examples include instances of racialized citizenship in “Algerian France,” Ireland’s new citizenship laws in response to asylum-seeking mothers, the role of Evangelical Christianity in creating a space for the construction of an identity that transcends state borders, and the Internet as one of the new public spheres for the expression of citizenship, be it local, national, or global.


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Cosmopolitan Anxieties
Turkish Challenges to Citizenship and Belonging in Germany
Ruth Mandel
Duke University Press, 2008
In Cosmopolitan Anxieties, Ruth Mandel explores Germany’s relation to the more than two million Turkish immigrants and their descendants living within its borders. Based on her two decades of ethnographic research in Berlin, she argues that Germany’s reactions to the postwar Turkish diaspora have been charged, inconsistent, and resonant of past problematic encounters with a Jewish “other.” Mandel examines the tensions in Germany between race-based ideologies of blood and belonging on the one hand and ambitions of multicultural tolerance and cosmopolitanism on the other. She does so by juxtaposing the experiences of Turkish immigrants, Jews, and “ethnic Germans” in relation to issues including Islam, Germany’s Nazi past, and its radically altered position as a unified country in the post–Cold War era.

Mandel explains that within Germany the popular understanding of what it means to be German is often conflated with citizenship, so that a German citizen of Turkish background can never be a “real German.” This conflation of blood and citizenship was dramatically illustrated when, during the 1990s, nearly two million “ethnic Germans” from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union arrived in Germany with a legal and social status far superior to that of “Turks” who had lived in the country for decades. Mandel analyzes how representations of Turkish difference are appropriated or rejected by Turks living in Germany; how subsequent generations of Turkish immigrants are exploring new configurations of identity and citizenship through literature, film, hip-hop, and fashion; and how migrants returning to Turkey find themselves fundamentally changed by their experiences in Germany. She maintains that until difference is accepted as unproblematic, there will continue to be serious tension regarding resident foreigners, despite recurrent attempts to realize a more inclusive and “demotic” cosmopolitan vision of Germany.


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Disenchanting Citizenship
Mexican Migrants and the Boundaries of Belonging
Luis F. B. Plascencia
Rutgers University Press, 2012
Central to contemporary debates in the United States on migration and migrant policy is the idea of citizenship, and—as apparent in the continued debate over Arizona’s immigration law SB 1070—this issue remains a focal point of contention, with a key concern being whether there should be a path to citizenship for “undocumented” migrants. In Disenchanting Citizenship, Luis F. B. Plascencia examines two interrelated issues: U.S. citizenship and the Mexican migrants’ position in the United States.  

The book explores the meaning of U.S. citizenship through the experience of a unique group of Mexican migrants who were granted Temporary Status under the “legalization” provisions of the 1986 IRCA, attained Lawful Permanent Residency, and later became U.S. citizens. Plascencia integrates an extensive and multifaceted collection of interviews, ethnographic fieldwork, ethno-historical research, and public policy analysis in examining efforts that promote the acquisition of citizenship, the teaching of citizenship classes, and naturalization ceremonies. Ultimately, he unearths citizenship’s root as a Janus-faced construct that encompasses a simultaneous process of inclusion and exclusion. This notion of citizenship is mapped on to the migrant experience, arguing that the acquisition of citizenship can lead to disenchantment with the very status desired. In the end, Plascencia expands our understanding of the dynamics of U.S. citizenship as a form of membership and belonging.


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Down from the Mountaintop
From Belief to Belonging
Joshua Dolezal
University of Iowa Press, 2014
A lyrical coming-of-age memoir, Down from the Mountaintop chronicles a quest for belonging. Raised in northwestern Montana by Pentecostal homesteaders whose twenty-year experiment in subsistence living was closely tied to their faith, Joshua Doležal experienced a childhood marked equally by his parents’ quest for spiritual transcendence and the surrounding Rocky Mountain landscape. Unable to fully embrace the fundamentalism of his parents, he began to search for religious experience elsewhere: in baseball, books, and weightlifting, then later in migrations to Tennessee, Nebraska, and Uruguay. Yet even as he sought to understand his place in the world, he continued to yearn for his mountain home.

For more than a decade, Doležal taught in the Midwest throughout the school year but returned to Montana and Idaho in the summers to work as a firefighter and wilderness ranger. He reveled in the life of the body and the purifying effects of isolation and nature, believing he had found transcendence. Yet his summers tied him even more to the mountain landscape, fueling his sense of exile on the plains.

It took falling in love, marrying, and starting a family in Iowa to allow Doležal to fully examine his desire for a spiritual mountaintop from which to view the world. In doing so, he undergoes a fundamental redefinition of the nature of home and belonging. He learns to accept the plains on their own terms, moving from condemnation to acceptance and from isolation to community. Coming down from the mountaintop means opening himself to relationships, grounding himself as a husband, father, and gardener who learns that where things grow, the grower also takes root.

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Dry Place
Landscapes Of Belonging And Exclusion
Patricia L. Price
University of Minnesota Press, 2004

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Ethno-erotic Economies
Sexuality, Money, and Belonging in Kenya
George Paul Meiu
University of Chicago Press, 2017
Ethno-erotic Economies explores a fascinating case of tourism focused on sex and culture in coastal Kenya, where young men deploy stereotypes of African warriors to help them establish transactional sexual relationships with European women. In bars and on beaches, young men deliberately cultivate their images as sexually potent African men to attract women, sometimes for a night, in other cases for long-term relationships.
George Paul Meiu uses his deep familiarity with the communities these men come from to explore the long-term effects of markets of ethnic culture and sexuality on a wide range of aspects of life in rural Kenya, including kinship, ritual, gender, intimate affection, and conceptions of aging. What happens to these communities when young men return with such surprising wealth? And how do they use it to improve their social standing locally? By answering these questions, Ethno-erotic Economies offers a complex look at how intimacy and ethnicity come together to shape the pathways of global and local trade in the postcolonial world.

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Boredom and Belonging in Niger
Adeline Masquelier
University of Chicago Press, 2019
Niger most often comes into the public eye as an example of deprivation and insecurity. Urban centers have become concentrated areas of unemployment filled with young men trying, against all odds, to find jobs and fill their time with meaningful occupations. At the heart of Adeline Masquelier’s groundbreaking book is the fada—a space where men gather to escape boredom by talking, playing cards, listening to music, and drinking tea. As a place in which new forms of sociability and belonging are forged outside the unattainable arena of work, the fada has become an integral part of Niger’s urban landscape. By considering the fada as a site of experimentation, Masquelier offers a nuanced depiction of how young men in urban Niger engage in the quest for recognition and reinvent their own masculinity in the absence of conventional avenues to self-realization. In an era when fledgling and advanced economies alike are struggling to support meaningful forms of employment, this book offers a timely glimpse into how to create spaces of stability, respect, and creativity in the face of diminished opportunities and precarity.

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From Belonging to Belief
Modern Secularisms and the Construction of Religion in Kyrgyzstan
Julie McBrien
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017
From Belonging to Belief presents a nuanced ethnographic study of Islam and secularism in post-Soviet Central Asia, as seen from the small town of Bazaar-Korgon in southern Kyrgyzstan. Opening with the juxtaposition of a statue of Lenin and a mosque in the town square, Julie McBrien proceeds to peel away the multiple layers that have shaped the return of public Islam in the region. She explores belief and nonbelief, varying practices of Islam, discourses of extremism, and the role of the state, to elucidate the everyday experiences of Bazaar-Korgonians. McBrien shows how Islam is explored, lived, and debated in both conventional and novel sites: a Soviet-era cleric who continues to hold great influence; popular television programs; religious instruction at wedding parties; clothing; celebrations; and others. Through ethnographic research, McBrien reveals how moving toward Islam is not a simple step but rather a deliberate and personal journey of experimentation, testing, and knowledge acquisition.  Moreover she argues that religion is not always a matter of belief—sometimes it is essentially about belonging.
            From Belonging to Belief offers an important corrective to studies that focus only on the pious turns among Muslims in Central Asia, and instead shows the complex process of evolving religion in a region that has experienced both Soviet atheism and post-Soviet secularism, each of which has profoundly formed the way Muslims interpret and live Islam.

front cover of From Bondage to Belonging
From Bondage to Belonging
The Worcester Slave Narratives
B. Eugene McCarthy
University of Massachusetts Press, 2008
First published between 1842 and 1895, the autobiographical narratives gathered in this volume document the experiences of eight former slaves who eventually took up residence in Worcester, Massachusetts. Each narrative tells a gripping individual story, its author clearly visible in the dress of his or her own words. Together they illuminate not only the inhumanity of slavery but also the dreams and dilemmas of emancipation, tracing the personal journeys of seven men and one woman from bondage to freedom. In their well-researched introduction, B. Eugene McCarthy and Thomas L. Doughton situate the Worcester slave narratives within a broader historical framework and analyze their meaning and significance. Drawing on a wide range of sources, they reconstruct the black community of Worcester and compare it with other New England black communities of the time, describing how the town evolved from a society with slaves in the colonial era to a hub for free blacks by the eve of the Civil War. They explain why these writings must be understood as part of a long-established tradition of African American self-representation, and show how the four narratives published before 1865 focus on the experience of slavery, while the four written after the war offer the fresh perspective of living in freedom. Headnotes describe the distinctive literary features of each narrative and provide additional information about the lives of the authors. The editors discuss why these ex-slaves came to Worcester, the circumstances in which each wrote his or her narrative, and the audiences they had in mind. No other collection of slave narratives offers such a diverse range of testimony within a specific historical and literary context, or a more compelling account of the transition from bondage to belonging.

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Given Up for You
A Memoir of Love, Belonging, and Belief
Erin O. White
University of Wisconsin Press, 2018
In this candid and revelatory memoir, Erin O. White shares her hunger for both romantic and divine love, and how these desires transformed her life. In the late 1990s, she spent Saturday nights with her girlfriend and Sunday mornings in Catholic confirmation classes. But when the Church closed its doors to her, she was faced with a question: What does a lesbian believer do with her longing for God? Given Up for You explores these yearnings with bittersweet conviction, plumbing the depths of heart and soul.

front cover of Global Dynamics of Shi'a Marriages
Global Dynamics of Shi'a Marriages
Religion, Gender, and Belonging
Yafa Shanneik
Rutgers University Press, 2022
Muslim marriages have been the focus of considerable public debate in Europe and beyond, in Muslim-majority countries as well as in settings where Muslims are a minority. Most academic work has focused on how the majority Sunni Muslims conclude marriages. This volume, in contrast, focuses on Twelver Shi'a Muslims in Iran, Pakistan, Oman, Indonesia, Norway, and the Netherlands. The volume makes an original contribution to understanding the global dynamics of Shi'a marriage practices in a wide range of contexts--not only its geographical spread but also by providing a critical analysis of the socio-economic, religious, ethnic, and political discourses of each context. The book sheds light on new marriage forms presented through a bottom up approach focusing on the lived experiences of Shi'a Muslims negotiating a diverse range of relationships and forms of belonging.

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The Hero's Place
Medieval Literary Traditions of Space and Belonging
Molly Robinson Kelly
Catholic University of America Press, 2009
The Hero's Place presents an innovative study of how the spaces described in a literary work contribute dynamically and profoundly to that work's meaning.

front cover of How to Be South Asian in America
How to Be South Asian in America
Narratives of Ambivalence and Belonging
Authored by anupama jain
Temple University Press, 2011

Providing a useful analysis of and framework for understanding immigration and assimilation narratives, anupama jain's How to Be South Asian in America considers the myth of the American Dream in fiction (Meena Alexander's Manhattan Music), film (American Desi, American Chai), and personal testimonies. By interrogating familiar American stories in the context of more supposedly exotic narratives, jain illuminates complexities of belonging that also reveal South Asians' anxieties about belonging, (trans)nationalism, and processes of cultural interpenetration.

jain argues that these stories transform as well as reflect cultural processes, and she shows just how aspects of identity—gender, sexual, class, ethnic, national—are shaped by South Asians' accommodation of and resistance to mainstream American culture.


front cover of In Search of Belonging
In Search of Belonging
Latinas, Media, and Citizenship
Jillian M Baez
University of Illinois Press, 2018
In Search of Belonging explores the ways Latina/o audiences in general, and women in particular, make sense of and engage both mainstream and Spanish-language media. Jillian M. Báez’s eye-opening ethnographic analysis draws on the experiences of a diverse group of Latinas in Chicago. In-depth interviews reveal Latinas viewing media images through a lens of citizenship. These women search for nothing less than recognition—and belonging—through representations of Latinas in films, advertising, telenovelas, and TV shows like Ugly Betty and Modern Family. Báez's personal interactions and research merge to create a fascinating portrait, one that privileges the perspectives of the women themselves as they consume media in complex, unpredictable ways.

Innovative and informed by a wealth of new evidence, In Search of Belonging answers important questions about the ways Latinas perform citizenship in today’s America.


front cover of Indigeneity in the Mexican Cultural Imagination
Indigeneity in the Mexican Cultural Imagination
Thresholds of Belonging
Analisa Taylor
University of Arizona Press, 2009
Since the end of the Mexican Revolution in 1917, the state has engaged in vigorous campaign to forge a unified national identity. Within the context of this effort, Indians are at once both denigrated and romanticized. Often marginalized, they are nonetheless subjects of constant national interest. Contradictory policies highlighting segregation, assimilation, modernization, and cultural preservation have alternately included and excluded Mexico’s indigenous population from the state’s self-conscious efforts to shape its identity. Yet, until now, no single book has combined the various elements of this process to provide a comprehensive look at the Indian in Mexico’s cultural imagination. Indigeneity in the Mexican Cultural Imagination offers a much-needed examination of this fickle relationship as it is seen through literature, ethnography, film and art.

The book focuses on representations of indigenous peoples in post-revolutionary literary and intellectual history by examining key cultural texts. Using these analyses as a foundation, Analisa Taylor links her critique to national Indian policy, rights, and recent social movements in Southern Mexico. In addition, she moves beyond her analysis of indigenous peoples in general to take a gendered look at indigenous women ranging from the villainized Malinche to the highly romanticized and sexualized Zapotec women of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

The contradictory treatment of the Indian in Mexico’s cultural imagination is not unique to that country alone. Rather, the situation there is representative of a phenomenon seen throughout the world. Though this book addresses indigeneity in Mexico specifically, it has far-reaching implications for the study of indigenaety across Latin America and beyond. Much like the late Edward Said’s Orientalism, this book provides a glimpse at the very real effects of literary and intellectual discourse on those living in the margins of society.

This book’s interdisciplinary approach makes it an essential foundation for research in the fields of anthropology, history, literary critique, sociology, and cultural studies. While the book is ideal for a scholarly audience, the accessible writing and scope of the analysis make it of interest to lay audiences as well. It is a must-read for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the politics of indigeneity in Mexico and beyond.

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Indigenous Communalism
Belonging, Healthy Communities, and Decolonizing the Collective
Carolyn Smith-Morris
Rutgers University Press, 2020
From a grandmother’s inter-generational care to the strategic and slow consensus work of elected tribal leaders, Indigenous community builders perform the daily work of culture and communalism. Indigenous Communalism conveys age-old lessons about culture, communalism, and the universal tension between the individual and the collective. It is also a critical ethnography challenging the moral and cultural assumptions of a hyper-individualist, twenty-first century global society.
Told in vibrant detail, the narrative of the book conveys the importance of communalism as a value system present in all human groups and one at the center of Indigenous survival. Carolyn Smith-Morris draws on her work among the Akimel O'odham and the Wiradjuri to show how communal work and culture help these communities form distinctive Indigenous bonds. The results are not only a rich study of Indigenous relational lifeways, but a serious inquiry to the continuing acculturative atmosphere that Indigenous communities struggle to resist. Recognizing both positive and negative sides to the issue, she asks whether there is a global Indigenous communalism. And if so, what lessons does it teach about healthy communities, the universal human need for belonging, and the potential for the collective to do good?

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The Island
War and Belonging in Auden’s England
Nicholas Jenkins
Harvard University Press, 2024

A groundbreaking reassessment of W. H. Auden’s early life and poetry, shedding new light on his artistic development as well as on his shifting beliefs about political belonging in interwar England.

From his first poems in 1922 to the publication of his landmark collection On This Island in the mid-1930s, W. H. Auden wrestled with the meaning of Englishness. His early works are prized for their psychological depth, yet Nicholas Jenkins argues that they are political poems as well, illuminating Auden’s intuitions about a key aspect of modern experience: national identity. Two historical forces, in particular, haunted the poet: the catastrophe of World War I and the subsequent “rediscovery” of England’s rural landscapes by artists and intellectuals.

The Island presents a new picture of Auden, the poet and the man, as he explored a genteel, lyrical form of nationalism during these years. His poems reflect on a world in ruins, while cultivating visions of England as a beautiful—if morally compromised—haven. They also reflect aspects of Auden’s personal search for belonging—from his complex relationship with his father, to his quest for literary mentors, to his negotiation of the codes that structured gay life. Yet as Europe veered toward a second immolation, Auden began to realize that poetic myths centered on English identity held little potential. He left the country in 1936 for what became an almost lifelong expatriation, convinced that his role as the voice of Englishness had become an empty one.

Reexamining one of the twentieth century’s most moving and controversial poets, The Island is a fresh account of his early works and a striking parable about the politics of modernism. Auden’s preoccupations with the vicissitudes of war, the trials of love, and the problems of identity are of their time. Yet they still resonate profoundly today.


front cover of The Jews’ Indian
The Jews’ Indian
Colonialism, Pluralism, and Belonging in America
Koffman, David S
Rutgers University Press, 2019
Winner of the 2020 Jordan Schnitzer Book Award in Social Science, Anthropology, and Folklore​
Honorable Mention, 2021 Saul Viener Book Prize​

The Jews’ Indian investigates the history of American Jewish relationships with Native Americans, both in the realm of cultural imagination and in face-to-face encounters. These two groups’ exchanges were numerous and diverse, proving at times harmonious when Jews’ and Natives people’s economic and social interests aligned, but discordant and fraught at other times. American Jews could be as exploitative of Native cultural, social, and political issues as other American settlers, and historian David Koffman argues that these interactions both unsettle and historicize the often triumphant consensus history of American Jewish life. Focusing on the ways Jewish class mobility and civic belonging were wrapped up in the dynamics of power and myth making that so severely impacted Native Americans, this books is provocative and timely, the first history to critically analyze Jewish participation in, and Jews’ grappling with the legacies of Native American history and the colonial project upon which America rests.

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Laotian Daughters
Working toward Community, Belonging, and Environmental Justice
Bindi V. Shah
Temple University Press, 2011

Laotian Daughters focuses on second-generation environmental justice activists in Richmond, California. Bindi Shah's pathbreaking book charts these young women's efforts to improve the degraded conditions in their community and explores the ways their activism and political practices resist the negative stereotypes of race, class, and gender associated with their ethnic group.

Using ethnographic observations, interviews, focus groups, and archival data on their participation in Asian Youth Advocates—a youth leadership development project—Shah analyzes the teenagers' mobilization for social rights, cross-race relations, and negotiations of gender and inter-generational relations. She also addresses issues of ethnic youth, and immigration and citizenship and how these shape national identities.

Shah ultimately finds that citizenship as a social practice is not just an adult experience, and that ethnicity is an ongoing force in the political and social identities of second-generation Laotians.


front cover of Lives in Transit in Early Modern England
Lives in Transit in Early Modern England
Identity and Belonging
Nandini Das
Amsterdam University Press, 2022
What did it mean in practice to be a ‘go-between’ in the early modern world? How were such figures perceived in sixteenth and seventeenth century England? And what effect did their movement between languages, countries, religions and social spaces – whether enforced or voluntary – have on the ways in which people navigated questions of identity and belonging? Lives in Transit in Early Modern England is a work of interdisciplinary scholarship which examines how questions of mobility and transculturality were negotiated in practice in the early modern world. Its twenty-four case studies cover a wide range of figures from different walks of life and corners of the globe, ranging from ambassadors to Amazons, monarchs to missionaries, translators to theologians. Together, the essays in this volume provide an invaluable resource for people interested in questions of race, belonging, and human identity.

front cover of Loving Orphaned Space
Loving Orphaned Space
The Art and Science of Belonging to Earth
Mrill Ingram
Temple University Press, 2022

How we relate to orphaned space matters. Voids, marginalia, empty spaces—from abandoned gas stations to polluted waterways—are created and maintained by politics, and often go unquestioned. In Loving Orphaned Space, Mrill Ingram provides a call to action to claim and to cherish these neglected spaces and make them a source of inspiration through art and/or remuneration. 

Ingram advocates not only for “urban greening” and “green planning,” but also for “radical caring.” These efforts create awareness and understanding of ecological connectivity and environmental justice issues—from the expropriation of land from tribal nations, to how race and class issues contribute to creating orphaned space. Case studies feature artists, scientists, and community collaborations in Chicago, New York, and Fargo, ND, where grounded and practical work of a fundamentally feminist nature challenges us to build networks of connection and care. 

The work of environmental artists who venture into and transform these disconnected sites of infrastructure allow us to rethink how to manage the enormous amount of existing overlooked and abused space. Loving Orphaned Space provides new ways humans can negotiate being better citizens of Earth.


front cover of Mormons, Musical Theater, and Belonging in America
Mormons, Musical Theater, and Belonging in America
Jake Johnson
University of Illinois Press, 2019
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints adopted the vocal and theatrical traditions of American musical theater as important theological tenets. As Church membership grew, leaders saw how the genre could help define the faith and wove musical theater into many aspects of Mormon life. Jake Johnson merges the study of belonging in America with scholarship on voice and popular music to explore the surprising yet profound link between two quintessentially American institutions. Throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Mormons gravitated toward musicals as a common platform for transmitting political and theological ideas. Johnson sees Mormons using musical theater as a medium for theology of voice--a religious practice that suggests how vicariously voicing another person can bring one closer to godliness. This sounding, Johnson suggests, created new opportunities for living. Voice and the musical theater tradition provided a site for Mormons to negotiate their way into middle-class respectability. At the same time, musical theater became a unique expressive tool of Mormon culture.

front cover of The Names of the Python
The Names of the Python
Belonging in East Africa, 900 to 1930
David L. Schoenbrun
University of Wisconsin Press, 2023
Systems of belonging, including ethnicity, are not static, automatic, or free of contest. Historical contexts shape the ways which we are included in or excluded from specific classifications. Building on an amazing array of sources, David L. Schoenbrun examines groupwork—the imaginative labor that people do to constitute themselves as communities—in an iconic and influential region in East Africa. His study traces the roots of nationhood in the Ganda state over the course of a millennia, demonstrating that the earliest clans were based not on political identity or language but on shared investments, knowledges, and practices.
Grounded in Schoenbrun’s skillful mastery of historical linguistics and vernacular texts, The Names of the Python supplements and redirects current debates about ethnicity in ex-colonial Africa and beyond. This timely volume carefully distinguishes past from present and shows the many possibilities that still exist for the creative cultural imagination.

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Native Hubs
Culture, Community, and Belonging in Silicon Valley and Beyond
Renya K. Ramirez
Duke University Press, 2007
Most Native Americans in the United States live in cities, where many find themselves caught in a bind, neither afforded the full rights granted U.S. citizens nor allowed full access to the tribal programs and resources—particularly health care services—provided to Native Americans living on reservations. A scholar and a member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, Renya K. Ramirez investigates how urban Native Americans negotiate what she argues is, in effect, a transnational existence. Through an ethnographic account of the Native American community in California’s Silicon Valley and beyond, Ramirez explores the ways that urban Indians have pressed their tribes, local institutions, and the federal government to expand conventional notions of citizenship.

Ramirez’s ethnography revolves around the Paiute American activist Laverne Roberts’s notion of the “hub,” a space that allows for the creation of a sense of belonging away from a geographic center. Ramirez describes “hub-making” activities in Silicon Valley, including sweat lodge ceremonies, powwows, and American Indian Alliance meetings, gatherings at which urban Indians reinforce bonds of social belonging and forge intertribal alliances. She examines the struggle of the Muwekma Ohlone, a tribe aboriginal to the San Francisco Bay area, to maintain a sense of community without a land base and to be recognized as a tribe by the federal government. She considers the crucial role of Native women within urban indigenous communities; a 2004 meeting in which Native Americans from Mexico and the United States discussed cross-border indigenous rights activism; and the ways that young Native Americans in Silicon Valley experience race and ethnicity, especially in relation to the area’s large Chicano community. A unique and important exploration of diaspora, transnationalism, identity, belonging, and community, Native Hubs is intended for scholars and activists alike.


front cover of Near Human
Near Human
Border Zones of Species, Life, and Belonging
Mette N. Svendsen
Rutgers University Press, 2022
Near Human takes us into the borders of human and animal life. In the animal facility, fragile piglets substitute for humans who cannot be experimented on. In the neonatal intensive care unit, extremely premature infants prompt questions about whether they are too fragile to save or, if they survive, whether they will face a life of severe disability. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork carried out on farms, in animal-based experimental science labs, and in hospitals, Mette N. Svendsen shows that practices of substitution redirect the question of "what it means" to be human to "what it takes" to be human. The near humanness of preterm infants and research piglets becomes an avenue to unravel how neonatal life is imagined, how societal belonging is evaluated, and how the Danish welfare state is forged. This courageous multi-sited and multi-species approach cracks open the complex ethical field of valuating life and making different kinds of pigs and different kinds of humans belong in Denmark.

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Now Go Home
Wilderness, Belonging, and the Crosscut Saw
Ana Maria Spagna
Oregon State University Press, 2004

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Obama and Kenya
Contested Histories and the Politics of Belonging
Matthew Carotenuto
Ohio University Press, 2016

Barack Obama’s political ascendancy has focused considerable global attention on the history of Kenya generally and the history of the Luo community particularly. From politicos populating the blogosphere and bookshelves in the U.S and Kenya, to tourists traipsing through Obama’s ancestral home, a variety of groups have mobilized new readings of Kenya’s past in service of their own ends.

Through narratives placing Obama into a simplified, sweeping narrative of anticolonial barbarism and postcolonial “tribal” violence, the story of the United States president’s nuanced relationship to Kenya has been lost amid stereotypical portrayals of Africa. At the same time, Kenyan state officials have aimed to weave Obama into the contested narrative of Kenyan nationhood.

Matthew Carotenuto and Katherine Luongo argue that efforts to cast Obama as a “son of the soil” of the Lake Victoria basin invite insights into the politicized uses of Kenya’s past. Ideal for classroom use and directed at a general readership interested in global affairs, Obama and Kenya offers an important counterpoint to the many popular but inaccurate texts about Kenya’s history and Obama’s place in it as well as focused, thematic analyses of contemporary debates about ethnic politics, “tribal” identities, postcolonial governance, and U.S. African relations.


front cover of Of Others Inside
Of Others Inside
Insanity, Addiction And Belonging in America
Darin Weinberg, foreword by Bryan S. Turner
Temple University Press, 2005
There is little doubt among scientists and the general public that homelessness, mental illness, and addiction are inter-related. In Of Others Inside, Darin Weinberg examines how these inter-relations have taken form in the United States. He links the establishment of these connections to the movement of mental health and addiction treatment from redemptive processes to punitive ones and back again, and explores the connection between social welfare, rehabilitation, and the criminal justice system.

Seeking to offer a new sociological understanding of the relationship between social exclusion and mental disability, Of Others Inside considers the general social conditions of homelessness, poverty, and social marginality in the U.S. Weinberg also explores questions about American perceptions of these conditions, and examines in great detail the social reality of mental disability and drug addiction without reducing people's suffering to simple notions of biological fate or social disorder.

front cover of Our Sacred Maíz Is Our Mother
Our Sacred Maíz Is Our Mother
Indigeneity and Belonging in the Americas
Roberto Cintli Rodríguez
University of Arizona Press, 2014
“If you want to know who you are and where you come from, follow the maíz.” That was the advice given to author Roberto Cintli Rodriguez when he was investigating the origins and migrations of Mexican peoples in the Four Corners region of the United States.

Follow it he did, and his book Our Sacred Maíz Is Our Mother changes the way we look at Mexican Americans. Not so much peoples created as a result of war or invasion, they are people of the corn, connected through a seven-thousand-year old maíz culture to other Indigenous inhabitants of the continent. Using corn as the framework for discussing broader issues of knowledge production and history of belonging, the author looks at how corn was included in codices and Mayan texts, how it was discussed by elders, and how it is represented in theater and stories as a way of illustrating that Mexicans and Mexican Americans share a common culture.

Rodriguez brings together scholarly and traditional (elder) knowledge about the long history of maíz/corn cultivation and culture, its roots in Mesoamerica, and its living relationship to Indigenous peoples throughout the continent, including Mexicans and Central Americans now living in the United States. The author argues that, given the restrictive immigration policies and popular resentment toward migrants, a continued connection to maíz culture challenges the social exclusion and discrimination that frames migrants as outsiders and gives them a sense of belonging not encapsulated in the idea of citizenship. The “hidden transcripts” of corn in everyday culture—art, song, stories, dance, and cuisine (maíz-based foods like the tortilla)—have nurtured, even across centuries of colonialism, the living maíz culture of ancient knowledge.

front cover of The Perils of Belonging
The Perils of Belonging
Autochthony, Citizenship, and Exclusion in Africa and Europe
Peter Geschiere
University of Chicago Press, 2009

Despite being told that we now live in a cosmopolitan world, more and more people have begun to assert their identities in ways that are deeply rooted in the local. These claims of autochthony—meaning “born from the soil”—seek to establish an irrefutable, primordial right to belong and are often employed in politically charged attempts to exclude outsiders. In The Perils of Belonging, Peter Geschiere traces the concept of autochthony back to the classical period and incisively explores the idea in two very different contexts: Cameroon and the Netherlands.

            In both countries, the momentous economic and political changes following the end of the cold war fostered anxiety over migration. For Cameroonians, the question of who belongs where rises to the fore in political struggles between different tribes, while the Dutch invoke autochthony in fierce debates over the integration of immigrants. This fascinating comparative perspective allows Geschiere to examine the emotional appeal of autochthony—as well as its dubious historical basis—and to shed light on a range of important issues, such as multiculturalism, national citizenship, and migration.


front cover of A Place of Belonging
A Place of Belonging
Five Founding Women of Fairbanks, Alaska
Phyllis Demuth Movius
University of Alaska Press, 2009

Alaska has always attracted people from varied backgrounds. In A Place of Belonging, Phyllis Movius introduces us to five women who settled in Fairbanks between 1903 and 1923 and who typify the disparate population that has long enriched Alaska. The women’s daily lives and personal stories are woven together in these biographical portraits, drawn from the women’s letters, memoirs, personal papers, club records, their own oral histories and published writings. Enriched by many never-before-published historical photos, Movius’s research gives us a unique inroad into life on the frontier.


front cover of The Politics of Belonging
The Politics of Belonging
Race, Public Opinion, and Immigration
Natalie Masuoka and Jane Junn
University of Chicago Press, 2013
The United States is once again experiencing a major influx of immigrants. Questions about who should be admitted and what benefits should be afforded to new members of the polity are among the most divisive and controversial contemporary political issues.

Using an impressive array of evidence from national surveys, The Politics of Belonging illuminates patterns of public opinion on immigration and explains why Americans hold the attitudes they do. Rather than simply characterizing Americans as either nativist or nonnativist, this book argues that controversies over immigration policy are best understood as questions over political membership and belonging to the nation. The relationship between citizenship, race, and immigration drive the politics of belonging in the United States and represents a dynamism central to understanding patterns of contemporary public opinion on immigration policy. Beginning with a historical analysis, this book documents why this is the case by tracing the development of immigration and naturalization law, institutional practices, and the formation of the American racial hierarchy. Then, through a comparative analysis of public opinion among white, black, Latino, and Asian Americans, it identifies and tests the critical moderating role of racial categorization and group identity on variation in public opinion on immigration.


front cover of Postnational Self
Postnational Self
Belonging And Identity
Ulf Hedetoft
University of Minnesota Press, 2002

front cover of Prague
Belonging in the Modern City
Chad Bryant
Harvard University Press, 2021

A poignant reflection on alienation and belonging, told through the lives of five remarkable people who struggled against nationalism and intolerance in one of Europe’s most stunning cities.

What does it mean to belong somewhere? For many of Prague’s inhabitants, belonging has been linked to the nation, embodied in the capital city. Grandiose medieval buildings and monuments to national heroes boast of a glorious, shared history. Past governments, democratic and Communist, layered the city with architecture that melded politics and nationhood. Not all inhabitants, however, felt included in these efforts to nurture national belonging. Socialists, dissidents, Jews, Germans, and Vietnamese—all have been subject to hatred and political persecution in the city they called home.

Chad Bryant tells the stories of five marginalized individuals who, over the last two centuries, forged their own notions of belonging in one of Europe’s great cities. An aspiring guidebook writer, a German-speaking newspaperman, a Bolshevik carpenter, an actress of mixed heritage who came of age during the Communist terror, and a Czech-speaking Vietnamese blogger: none of them is famous, but their lives are revealing. They speak to tensions between exclusionary nationalism and on-the-ground diversity. In their struggles against alienation and dislocation, they forged alternative communities in cafes, workplaces, and online. While strolling park paths, joining political marches, or writing about their lives, these outsiders came to embody a city that, on its surface, was built for others.

A powerful and creative meditation on place and nation, the individual and community, Prague envisions how cohesion and difference might coexist as it acknowledges a need common to all.


front cover of Precarity and Belonging
Precarity and Belonging
Labor, Migration, and Noncitizenship
Catherine S. Ramírez
Rutgers University Press, 2021
Precarity and Belonging examines how the movement of people and their incorporation, marginalization, and exclusion, under epochal conditions of labor and social precarity affecting both citizens and noncitizens, have challenged older notions of citizenship and alienage. This collection brings mobility, precarity, and citizenship together in order to explore the points of contact and friction, and, thus, the spaces for a possible politics of commonality between citizens and noncitizens.The editors ask: What does modern citizenship mean in a world of citizens, denizens, and noncitizens, such as undocumented migrants, guest workers, permanent residents, refugees, detainees, and stateless people? How is the concept of citizenship, based on assumptions of deservingness, legality, and productivity, challenged when people of various and competing statuses and differential citizenship practices interact with each other, revealing their co-constitutive connections? How is citizenship valued or revalued when labor and social precarity impact those who seemingly have formal rights and those who seemingly or effectively do not? This book interrogates such binaries as citizen/noncitizen, insider/outsider, entitled/unentitled, “legal”/“illegal,” and deserving/undeserving in order to explore the fluidity--that is, the dynamism and malleability--of the spectra of belonging.

front cover of Queering Colonial Natal
Queering Colonial Natal
Indigeneity and the Violence of Belonging in Southern Africa
T. J. Tallie
University of Minnesota Press, 2019

How were indigenous social practices deemed queer and aberrant by colonial forces?

In Queering Colonial Natal, T.J. Tallie travels to colonial Natalestablished by the British in 1843, today South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal provinceto show how settler regimes “queered” indigenous practices. Defining them as threats to the normative order they sought to impose, they did so by delimiting Zulu polygamy; restricting alcohol access, clothing, and even friendship; and assigning only Europeans to government schools. 

Using queer and critical indigenous theory, this book critically assesses Natal (where settlers were to remain a minority) in the context of the global settler colonial project in the nineteenth century to yield a new and engaging synthesis. Tallie explores the settler colonial history of Natal’s white settlers and how they sought to establish laws and rules for both whites and Africans based on European mores of sexuality and gender. At the same time, colonial archives reveal that many African and Indian people challenged such civilizational claims. 

Ultimately Tallie argues that the violent collisions between Africans, Indians, and Europeans in Natal shaped the conceptions of race and gender that bolstered each group’s claim to authority. 


front cover of Remittance as Belonging
Remittance as Belonging
Global Migration, Transnationalism, and the Quest for Home
Hasan Mahmud
Rutgers University Press, 2025
Remittance as Belonging: Global Migration, Transnationalism, and the Quest for Home argues that migrant remittances express their  sense of belonging and connectedness to their home country of origin, making an integral part of both migrants’ ethnic identity and sense of what they call home. Drawing on three and a half years of ethnographic fieldwork with Bangladeshi migrants in Tokyo and Los Angeles, Hasan Mahmud demonstrates that while migrants go abroad for various reasons, they do not travel alone. Although they leave behind their families in Bangladesh, they move abroad essentially as members of their family and community and maintain their belonging to home through transnational practices, including remittance-sending. By conceptualizing remittance as an expression of migrants’ belonging, this book presents detailed accounts of the emergence, growth, decline, and revival of remittances as a function of transformations in migrants’ sense of belonging to home.

front cover of Signing and Belonging in Nepal
Signing and Belonging in Nepal
Erika Hoffmann-Dilloway
Gallaudet University Press, 2016
While many deaf organizations around the world have adopted an ethno-linguistic framing of deafness, the meanings and consequences of this perspective vary across cultural contexts, and relatively little scholarship exists that explores this framework from an anthropological perspective.
     In this book, Erika Hoffmann-Dilloway presents an accessible examination of deafness in Nepal. As a linguistic anthropologist, she describes the emergence of Nepali Sign Language and deaf sociality in the social and historical context of Nepal during the last decades before the Hindu Kingdom became a secular republic. She then shows how the adoption of an ethno-linguistic model interacted with the ritual pollution model, or the prior notion that deafness results from bad karma. Her focus is on the impact of these competing and co-existing understandings of deafness on three groups: signers who adopted deafness as an ethnic identity, homesigners whose ability to adopt that identity is hindered by their difficulties in acquiring Nepali Sign Language, and hearing Nepalis who interact with Deaf signers. Comparing these contexts demonstrates that both the ethno-linguistic model and the ritual pollution model, its seeming foil, draw on the same basic premise: that both persons and larger social formations are mutually constituted through interaction. Signing and Belonging in Nepal is an ethnography that studies a rich and unique Deaf culture while also contributing to larger discussions about social reproduction and social change.

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Sovereign Acts
Performing Race, Space, and Belonging in Panama and the Canal Zone
Zien, Katherine A.
Rutgers University Press, 2017
Winner of the 2018 Gordon K. and Sybil Farrell Lewis Book Prize from the Caribbean Studies Association
Winner of the 2017 Annual Book Prize from the Canadian Association of Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CALACS)​

Sovereign Acts explores how artists, activists, and audiences performed and interpreted sovereignty struggles in the Panama Canal Zone, from the Canal Zone’s inception in 1903 to its dissolution in 1999. In popular entertainments and patriotic pageants, opera concerts and national theatre, white U.S. citizens, West Indian laborers, and Panamanian artists and activists used performance as a way to assert their right to the Canal Zone and challenge the Zone’s sovereignty, laying claim to the Zone’s physical space and imagined terrain. 

By demonstrating the place of performance in the U.S. Empire’s legal landscape, Katherine A. Zien transforms our understanding of U.S. imperialism and its aftermath in the Panama Canal Zone and the larger U.S.-Caribbean world. 

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Sown in Earth
Essays of Memory and Belonging
Fred Arroyo
University of Arizona Press, 2020
Sown in Earth is a collection of personal memories that speak to the larger experiences of hardworking migratory men. Often forgotten or silenced, these men are honored and remembered in Sown in Earth through the lens of Arroyo’s memories of his father. Arroyo recollects his father’s anger and alcohol abuse as a reflection of his place in society, in which his dreams and disappointments are patterned by work and poverty, loss and displacement, memory and belonging.

In Sown in Earth, Arroyo often roots his thoughts and feelings in place, expressing a deep connection to the small homes he inhabited in his childhood, his warm and hazy memories of his grandmother’s kitchen in Puerto Rico, the rivers and creeks he fished, and the small cafés in Madrid that inspired writing and reflection in his adult years. Swirling in romantic moments and a refined love for literature, Arroyo creates a sense of belonging and appreciation for his life despite setbacks and complex anxieties along the way.

By crafting a written journey through childhood traumas, poverty, and the impact of alcoholism on families, Fred Arroyo clearly outlines how his lived experiences led him to become a writer. Sown in Earth is a shocking yet warm collage of memories that serves as more than a memoir or an autobiography. Rather, Arroyo recounts his youth through lyrical prose to humanize and immortalize the hushed lives of men like his father, honoring their struggle and claiming their impact on the writers and artists they raised.

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States of Belonging
Immigration Policies, Attitudes, and Inclusion
Tomas R. Jimenez
Russell Sage Foundation, 2021
Political turmoil surrounding immigration at the federal level and the inability of Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform have provided an opening for state and local governments to become more active in setting their own immigration-related policies. States largely dictate the resources, institutions, and opportunities immigrants can access: who can get a driver’s license or attend a state university, what languages are spoken in schools and public offices, how law enforcement interacts with the public, and even what schools teach students about history. In States of Belonging, an interdisciplinary team of immigration experts – Tomás R. Jiménez, Deborah J. Schildkraut, Yuen J. Huo, and John F.  Dovidio – explore the interconnections among immigration policies, attitudes about immigrants and immigration, and sense of belonging in two neighboring states – Arizona and New Mexico – with divergent approaches to welcoming newcomers.
Arizona and New Mexico are historically and demographically similar, but they differ in their immigration policies. Arizona has enacted unwelcoming policies towards immigrants, restricting the access of immigrants to state resources, social services, and public institutions. New Mexico is more welcoming, actively seeking to protect the rights of immigrants and extending access to state resources and institutions. The authors draw on an original survey and in-depth interviews of a cross-section of each state’s population to illustrate how these differing approaches affect the sense of belonging not only among immigrants, but among the U.S.-born as well.
Respondents in Arizona, regardless of whether they were foreign- or native-born or their ethno-racial background, agreed that the state is unwelcoming to immigrants, and they pointed to Arizona’s restrictive policies as the primary factor. The sense of rejection perceived by Latinos in Arizona, including the foreign-born and the U.S.-born, was profound. They felt the effects of administrative and symbolic exclusions of the state’s unwelcoming policies as they went about their daily lives.
New Mexico’s more welcoming approach had positive effects on the Latino immigrant population, and these policies contributed to an increased sense of belonging among U.S.-born Latinos and U.S.-born whites as well. The authors show that exposure to information about welcoming policies is associated with an improved sense of belonging across most population groups. They also find that the primary dividing line when it came to reactions to welcoming policies was political, not ethno-racial. Only self-identified Republicans, Latino as well as white, showed reduced feelings of belonging. 
States of Belonging demonstrates that welcoming policies cultivate a greater sense of belonging for immigrants and other state citizens, suggesting that policies aimed at helping immigrants gain a social, economic, and political foothold in this country can pay a broad societal dividend.


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Tacit Subjects
Belonging and Same-Sex Desire among Dominican Immigrant Men
Carlos Ulises Decena
Duke University Press, 2011
Tacit Subjects is a pioneering analysis of how gay immigrant men of color negotiate race, sexuality, and power in their daily lives. Drawing on ethnographic research with Dominicans in New York City, Carlos Ulises Decena explains that while the men who shared their life stories with him may self-identify as gay, they are not the liberated figures of traditional gay migration narratives. Decena contends that in migrating to Washington Heights, a Dominican enclave in New York, these men moved from one site to another within an increasingly transnational Dominican society. Many of them migrated and survived through the resources of their families and broader communities. Explicit acknowledgment or discussion of their homosexuality might rupture these crucial social and familial bonds. Yet some of Decena’s informants were sure that their sexuality was tacitly understood by their family members or others close to them. Analyzing their recollections about migration, settlement, masculinity, sex, and return trips to the Dominican Republic, Decena describes how the men at the center of Tacit Subjects contest, reproduce, and reformulate Dominican identity in New York. Their stories reveal how differences in class, race, and education shape their relations with fellow Dominicans. They also offer a view of “gay New York” that foregrounds the struggles for respect, belonging, and survival within a particular immigrant community.

front cover of To Swim with Crocodiles
To Swim with Crocodiles
Land, Violence, and Belonging in South Africa, 1800-1996
Jill E Kelly
Michigan State University Press, 2018
To Swim with Crocodiles: Land, Violence, and Belonging in South Africa, 1800–1996 offers a fresh perspective on the history of rural politics in South Africa, from the rise of the Zulu kingdom to the civil war at the dawn of democracy in KwaZulu-Natal. The book shows how Africans in the Table Mountain region drew on the cultural inheritance of ukukhonza—a practice of affiliation that binds together chiefs and subjects—to seek social and physical security in times of war and upheaval. Grounded in a rich combination of archival sources and oral interviews, this book examines relations within and between chiefdoms to bring wider concerns of African studies into focus, including land, violence, chieftaincy, ethnic and nationalist politics, and development. Colonial indirect rule, segregation, and apartheid attempted to fix formerly fluid polities into territorial “tribes” and ethnic identities, but the Zulu practice of ukukhonza maintained its flexibility and endured. By exploring what Zulu men and women knew about and how they remembered ukukhonza, Kelly reveals how Africans envisioned and defined relationships with the land, their chiefs, and their neighbors as white minority rule transformed the countryside and local institutions of governance. 

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Transforming Citizenship
Democracy, Membership, and Belonging in Latino Communities
Raymond A. Rocco
Michigan State University Press, 2014
In Transforming Citizenship Raymond Rocco studies the “exclusionary inclusion” of Latinos based on racialization and how the processes behind this have shaped their marginalized citizenship status, offering a framework for explaining this dynamic. Contesting this status has been at the core of Latino politics for more than 150 years. Pursuing the goal of full, equal, and just inclusion in societal membership has long been a major part of the struggle to realize democratic normative principles. This illuminating research demonstrates the inherent limitations of the citizenship regime in the United States for incorporating Latinos as full societal members and offers an alternative conception, “associative citizenship,” that provides a way to account for and challenge the pattern of exclusionary belonging that has defined the positions of the Latinos in U.S. society. Through a critical engagement with key theorists such as Rawls, Habermas, Kymlicka, Walzer, Taylor, and Young, Rocco advances an original analysis of the politics of Latino societal membership and citizenship, arguing that the specific processes of racialization that have played a determinative role in creating and maintaining the pattern of social and political exclusions of Latinos have not been addressed by the dominant theories of diversity and citizenship developed in the prevalent literature in political theory.

front cover of Troubling Nationhood in U.S. Latina Literature
Troubling Nationhood in U.S. Latina Literature
Explorations of Place and Belonging
Socolovsky, Maya
Rutgers University Press, 2013
This book examines the ways in which recent U.S. Latina literature challenges popular definitions of nationhood and national identity. It explores a group of feminist texts that are representative of the U.S. Latina literary boom of the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, when an emerging group of writers gained prominence in mainstream and academic circles. Through close readings of select contemporary Mexican American, Puerto Rican, and Cuban American works, Maya Socolovsky argues that these narratives are “remapping” the United States so that it is fully integrated within a larger, hemispheric Americas.

Looking at such concerns as nation, place, trauma, and storytelling, writers Denise Chavez, Sandra Cisneros, Esmeralda Santiago, Ana Castillo, Himilce Novas, and Judith Ortiz Cofer challenge popular views of Latino cultural “unbelonging” and make strong cases for the legitimate presence of Latinas/os within the United States. In this way, they also counter much of today’s anti-immigration rhetoric.

Imagining the U.S. as part of a broader "Americas," these writings trouble imperialist notions of nationhood, in which political borders and a long history of intervention and colonization beyond those borders have come to shape and determine the dominant culture's writing and the defining of all Latinos as "other" to the nation.

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Turkish Cinema
Identity, Distance and Belonging
Gönül Dönmez-Colin
Reaktion Books, 2008
Films often act as a prism that refracts the issues facing a nation, and Turkish cinema in particular serves to encapsulate the cultural and social turmoil of modern-day Turkey. Acclaimed film scholar Gönül Dönmez-Colin examines here the way that national cinema reveals the Turkish quest for a modern identity.
Marked by continually shifting ethnic demographics, politics, and geographic borders, Turkish society struggles to reconcile modern attitudes with traditional morals and centuries-old customs. Dönmez-Colin examines how contemporary Turkish filmmakers address this struggle in their cinematic works, positing that their films revolve around ideas of migration and exile, and give voice to previously subsumed “denied identities” such as that of the Kurds. Turkish Cinema also crucially examines how these films confront taboo subjects such as homosexuality, incest, and honor killings, issues that have only become viable subjects of discussion in the new generation of Turkish citizens.
A deftly written and thought-provoking study, Turkish Cinema will be invaluable for scholars of Middle East studies and cinephiles alike.

front cover of We Do Not Have Borders
We Do Not Have Borders
Greater Somalia and the Predicaments of Belonging in Kenya
Keren Weitzberg
Ohio University Press, 2017

Though often associated with foreigners and refugees, many Somalis have lived in Kenya for generations, in many cases since long before the founding of the country. Despite their long residency, foreign and state officials and Kenyan citizens often perceive the Somali population to be a dangerous and alien presence in the country, and charges of civil and human rights abuses have mounted against them in recent years.

In We Do Not Have Borders, Keren Weitzberg examines the historical factors that led to this state of affairs. In the process, she challenges many of the most fundamental analytical categories, such as “tribe,” “race,” and “nation,” that have traditionally shaped African historiography. Her interest in the ways in which Somali representations of the past and the present inform one another places her research at the intersection of the disciplines of history, political science, and anthropology.

Given tragic events in Kenya and the controversy surrounding al-Shabaab, We Do Not Have Borders has enormous historical and contemporary significance, and provides unique inroads into debates over globalization, African sovereignty, the resurgence of religion, and the multiple meanings of being African.


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The Wedding Complex
Forms of Belonging in Modern American Culture
Elizabeth Freeman
Duke University Press, 2002
In The Wedding Complex Elizabeth Freeman explores the significance of the wedding ceremony by asking what the wedding becomes when you separate it from the idea of marriage. Freeman finds that weddings—as performances, fantasies, and rituals of transformation—are sites for imagining and enacting forms of social intimacy other than monogamous heterosexuality. Looking at the history of Anglo-American weddings and their depictions in American literature and popular culture from the antebellum era to the present, she reveals the cluster of queer desires at the heart of the "wedding complex"—longings not for marriage necessarily but for public forms of attachment, ceremony, pageantry, and celebration.

Freeman draws on queer theory and social history to focus on a range of texts where weddings do not necessarily lead to legal marriage but instead reflect yearnings for intimate arrangements other than long-term, state-sanctioned, domestic couplehood. Beginning with a look at the debates over gay marriage, she proceeds to consider literary works by Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Faulkner, Carson McCullers, Vladimir Nabokov, and Edgar Allan Poe, along with such Hollywood films as Father of the Bride, The Graduate, and The Godfather. She also discusses less well-known texts such as Su Friedrich’s experimental film First Comes Love and the off-Broadway, interactive dinner play Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding.

Offering bold new ways to imagine attachment and belonging, and the public performance and recognition of social intimacy, The Wedding Complex is a major contribution to American studies, queer theory, and cultural studies.


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