2017 Virtual Edition: Immigration

This virtual edition complements the APLA series, Speaking Truth to Justice: APLA/PoLAR Respond to the Trump Executive Order on Immigration, which responds to the Trump administration’s Executive Order 13769, barring U.S. entry to citizens of seven countries as well as legally recognized refugees. Curated by Heath Cabot and Jennifer Curtis, the series features commentaries from scholars working on the politics and law of borders and migration. The fourteen articles that comprise this virtual edition provide additional theoretical and empirical insights into the experiences and challenges of immigration.

Featured Articles

iceFrom “Deportability”to “Denounce-ability”: New Forms of Labor in an Era of Governing Immigration through Crime
Sarah B. Horton in Volume 39, Issue 2. November 2016

This article shows that the marginalization of migrant communities has led to the mutually beneficial exchange of work authorization documents between donors with legal status and recipients without legal status. It examines the effect of the criminalization of immigration on labor discipline, suggesting that migrant “denounce-ability” has joined migrant “deportability” as a powerful new tool of labor subordination.

immigration-courtTranslating “Best Interest”: Child Welfare Decisions at the US-México Border
Naomi Glenn‐Levin Rodriguez in Volume 39, Issue s1. September 2016

“Best interest” is a principle that figures prominently in court cases involving child migrants applying for legal residency status. This article explores best interest as a site of translation, one that enables social workers and legal actors to make seemingly value-free legal decisions that, in fact, codify a perception that the United States is necessarily the best place for all children to be raised.

european-court-bans-gay-testing-for-asylum-seekers-1417637427Judging Intimacies at the French Court of Asylum
Carolina Kobelinsky in Volume 38, Issue 2. November 2015

This analysis centers on the relationship between the problems raised by adjudicators when facing what they call “intimacy cases,” specifically regarding the administration of proof and stereotyped performances. It argues that sexual orientation-based cases crystallize the importance of intimacy in the politics of asylum, helping to seize the new shapes of the refugee as well as the growing difficulties for judges in relying on material evidence.

athens-police-8-640x392The Governance of Things: Documenting Limbo in Greek Asylum Procedure
Heath Cabot in Volume 35, Issue 1. May 2012

This article shows that documentary practices and forms both reinforce and undermine attempts to make persons governable. This analysis centers on the “pink card,” the identity document issued to asylum seekers in Greece, which in 2010 was the European country with the highest number of asylum cases pending in limbo. It argues for further consideration of how such things govern activities and tools of state regulation.

iraqanthropologistwidehorizontalSecurity and the Culture Expert: Dilemmas of Engaged Anthropology
Daniel M. Goldstein in Volume 33, Issue s1. May 2010

This article examines the meanings of “security,” concentrating on the discipline’s engagement with the military and how the anthropological concept of culture has been deployed in post-9/11 security campaigns. It argues that while there are many potential pitfalls awaiting the so-called culture expert in military collaborations, security nevertheless remains an important field to which anthropologists can bring critical scholarly attention and ethical engagement.

humanSpeaking Law, Making Difference
Donald Brenneis in Volume 19, Issue 1. May 1996

In characterizing the discursive strategies of indigenous communities participating in global debates about human rights, Sally Merry argues that “What they speak is law.” This commentary asks: how do they speak it? It reflects on what “speaking law” might imply for our understanding of how law “makes a difference” and the several ways that a consideration of law as discourse can illuminate issues of difference. While law makes difference, it does so in very different ways.

03rally.600Citizenship and Clandestiny among Salvadoran Immigrants
Susan Bibler Coutin in Volume 22, Issue 2. November 1999

The relationship between citizenship and clandestinity takes multiple and contradictory forms. This analysis reveals that clandestinity is both the obverse and an imitation of citizenship. It explores how practices that officially define personhood, as well as how the unofficial both produces and alters the official, drawing on fieldwork and interviews conducted among Salvadoran immigrants who are seeking legal status in the United States.

border_sign_tabascoIllegality and Invisibility at Margins and Borders
Rebecca B. Galemba in Volume 36, Issue 2. November 2013

Drawing from the scholarship on states and illegal practices and the author’s fieldwork at the Mexico-Guatemala border, this article posits new directions in the study of legitimacy, legality, and morality in borderlands. The analysis reveals the politics and power dynamics that shape how people differentially experience the law. It uses illegality as a theoretical lens to reexamine what constitute worthy subjects of research and standards for ethical and methodological practice.

Newendorp-165x165Contesting “Law and Order”: Immigrants’ Encounters with “Rule of Law” in Postcolonial Hong Kong
Nicole Newendorp in Volume 34, Issue 1. May 2011

This article investigates the “rule of law” as a sociocultural concept that has concrete effects on the lives of newly arrived Chinese mainland immigrants in postcolonial Hong Kong. It highlights a paradox: how the “rule of law”—seen as a key symbol of freedom—acted as a vehicle of oppression, and not just belonging, for recently arrived immigrants from mainland China.

UGANDA-SSUDAN-UNREST-REFUGEEBlurring Boundaries: Refugee Resettlement in Kampala—between the Formal, the Informal, and the Illegal
Kristin Bergtora Sandvik in Volume 34, Issue 1. May 2011

This article investigates the formal, informal, and illegal transactions that govern the struggle between urban refugees and the UNHCR in Kampala, Uganda, over the distribution of third-country resettlement slots. I propose that the regularization of resettlement has engendered a pluralist system that draws on and combines multiple sources and levels of legal and bureaucratic norms.

department-of-home-affairs-south-africaThe Magic of the Populace: An Ethnography of Illegibility in the South African Immigration Bureaucracy
Colin Hoag in Volume 33, Issue 1. May 2010

This article examines the Immigration Services Branch of the South African Department of Home Affairs. It documents how systems enable officials to act in ways that might run counter to official discourse while simultaneously upholding its legitimacy. Their stabilization efforts incite a destabilization of the state, leading it to appear as “magical” or “illegible” to the public.

318039282_1f76992ce7Returning Home? Law, Violence, and Displacement among West Bank Palestinians
Tobias Kelly in Volume 27, Issue 2. November 2004

Displacement is a defining feature of Palestinian experience. By focusing on the lives of Palestinians, this essay explores how experiences of displacement are formed in the tensions between processes that make people mobile and those that keep them in place. It argues that the relationship between person and place and the related limitations on mobility produced by historically developing forms of legal status are far from stable.

Life-Stories-Disclosure-and-the-LawLife Stories, Disclosure and the Law
Michelle McKinley in Volume 20, Issue 2. November 1997

This paper addresses the use of personal narratives in refugee women’s applications for political asylum, which recount past experiences of sexual abuse, intimate battering, and the persecutory nature of cultural practices affecting women. My concern here is to examine how legal advocates elicit and use their clients’ personal narratives for persuasive and programmatic purposes, contemplating a possible synthesis between legal and anthropological modes of “interrogation.”

s_kwoh_citizenship_500x279Remaking and Unmaking “Citizen” in the Policy-Making Talk about Immigration
Phyllis Pease Chock in Volume 17, Issue 2. November 1994

When legislators and policy-makers redefine what “citizen” or “immigrant” means, they bring to their task an assemblage of semiotic practices. This analysis of immigration policy looks first at how the meanings of the categories “citizen” and “immigrant” are naturalized and standardized by such practices and, second, how this naturalizing and standardizing is contested with other cultural practices.