Documenting the Undocumented: Life Narratives of Unauthorized Immigrants
University of Hawaii Press
Scholarly/refereed, publisher version
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Although Arizona's now-notorious anti-immigration bill SB 1070 and the plethora of copycat legislation bills in several other states,1 as well as the recent failures to pass any form of the DREAM Act at a national level,2 have kept a spotlight on issues of undocumented immigration in national debates, the voices of the undocumented themselves have onlyly begun to register in this scene.3 Indeed, it is arguable that there is no population more silenced in the face of debates that most directly affect them than the undocumented. As journalist David Bacon has observed in Illegal People, "Those who live with globalization's consequences are not at the table, and their voices are generally excluded" (viii). In his introduction to Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives, editor Peter Orner echoes these concerns: "We hear a lot about these people in the media. We hear they are responsible for crime. We hear they take our jobs, our benefits. We hear they refuse to speak English. But how often do we hear from them?" (7). To speak and be heard, in ways that will not immediately invite the most serious of repercussions (e.g., detention and deportation), is a challenge that unauthorized immigrants face in ways that other populations with a direct stake in US legislative battles do not. Yet, personal stories—oral history, life writing, "witness" testimony— play an important, perhaps even a vital role in advocacy and human rights struggles, as a body of scholarship of the last decade suggests (e.g., Schaffer and Smith; Dawes; Nance; Beverley). Thus the question of how undocumented stories might participate in the public sphere where immigration policy and legislation are debated becomes increasingly urgent.
This is the publisher's version, also available electronically from http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/biography/v035/35.3.caminero-santangelo.html
Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. (2012). "Documenting the Undocumented: Life Narratives of Unauthorized Immigrants." Biography, 68(3):157-176. http://www.dx.doi.org/10.1353/bio.2012.0040
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