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Faculty Research

Lisa Cacho

Lisa Cacho's work demonstrates how race, gender, sexuality, class, nation, and legality work interdependently to assign human value and to render relations of inequality normative, natural, and obvious in both dominant and oppositional discourses. To understand how the rhetoric and discourse of value are both institutionalized and popularized to devastating effect, she analyzes a range of sources, such as ballot measures ascribing “illegality” to persons, legal provisions targeting “criminal aliens,” court documents evaluating degrees of “guilt,” and related media accounts that manage and make sense of racial contradictions. Her book, Social Death: Racialized Rightlessness and the Criminalization of the Unprotected (NYU press, 2012) examines the ways in which representations of race and race relations mediate how we affectively and intellectually apprehend criminal justice and civil/human rights.

Jonathan X. Inda

Jonathan Inda is currently working on two projects. One is a book titled Racial Prescription: Pharmaceuticals, Difference, and the Politics of Life.  The book explores the politics of dealing with health disparities through targeting pharmaceuticals at particular racial groups based on the idea that they are genetically different. Focusing specifically on BiDil, a heart failure medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration just for African Americans, Inda suggests that while racialized pharmaceuticals are ostensibly about fostering the vital forces of the biological body, their politics of life also raises questions concerning the biologization of race. Given the United States’ historical experience with racial science, in which some groups have been classified as biologically inferior and others as superior, to geneticize and biologize racial minorities is to potentially open the door to stereotyping, discrimination, and marginalization.

The second project, which will likely be developed into a book, focuses on immigration enforcement in the interior of the United States. While the border continues to be a central site of immigration enforcement, it is clear that interior policing has also come to occupy a major role in the government of immigration. In the post-9/11 period, local and state law enforcement agencies have become progressively more involved in policing immigration matters; the number of undocumented immigrants incarcerated in county jails, federal prisons, and privately run immigration detention centers has surged; and raids – of homes, worksites, and public spaces – have become rather prevalent. The US has essentially witnessed the progressive criminalization of migrants and a significant expansion in the space of policing. In the process, the boundaries of immigration enforcement have migrated inwards, turning much of the interior of the United States into a border zone where governmental authorities endeavor to regulate putatively “dangerous” migrant illegalities. Inda's project deals with this shift to interior immigration policing, focusing on a number of policing practices, from raids and workplace audits to the policing of “criminal aliens” and the surge in the detention and deportation of migrants.

Isabel Molina-Guzmán

Isabel Molina-Guzmán is author of Dangerous Curves: Latina Bodies in the Media (NYU Press, 2010). Her works have appeared in numerous edited collected and academic journals such as Latino Studies, Journalism, Popular Communication, Critical Studies in Media and Communication.

Sandra Ruiz

Sandra Ruiz is currently working on a book manuscript, tentatively titled, Ricanness: Staging Time in Anticolonial Performance, which moves from the aesthetic to the political, and the philosophical to the performative, to uncover the existential and phenomenological affinity between Rican conceptual artists and revolutionaries.

Edna Viruell-Fuentes

Edna Viruell-Fuentes is currently working on three projects. Her first project, Critical Approaches to Latina/o and Immigrant health: Racialization Processes, Discrimination, and Social Ties, is a quantitative project that examines the influence of social ties and discrimination on Latina/o and immigrant health. Researchers have proposed that the better-than-expected health outcomes observed among Latino immigrants vis-à-vis U.S.-born Latinos may be due to culturally specific health-protective characteristics that weaken in later generations as individuals supposedly “acculturate to the U.S.” This study examines and challenges such explanations by assessing the influence of social networks and discrimination on Latina/o and immigrant health in Chicago. In so doing, it addresses concerns that these explanations often lack theoretically nuanced propositions concerning the interplay between culture, social structure, and wellbeing.

The second project, Transnational Perspectives on Latina/o and Immigrant Health: The Health Impacts of Migration in Immigrant-Sending and Receiving Communities, is a qualitative project that contributes to our knowledge of the linkages between migration and health from a transnational perspective. Specifically, it explores the health costs and benefits of migration not only for immigrants but also for non-migrants and return migrants in sending communities. It investigates how pre- and post-migration factors affect the health of immigrants, and also how migration influences the health of those left behind. By employing a transnational lens and research design, this study addresses a limitation common in immigrant health literature, in which data are often collected solely at the point of immigrant destinations.

The third project, Structural Contexts and their Impact on Latina/o and Immigrant Health: The Intersections of Immigration and Security Policies, is a theoretical project that examines the health implications of immigration and security policies. It involves several conceptual papers; an on-campus conference to be held in Spring 2014; and a co-edited volume, with Rebecca Hester at the University of Texas Medical Branch. The empirical and theoretical works to be highlighted at the conference and in the volume draw attention to how policies deployed to control the lives and movements of cross-border immigrants have proven to be increasingly detrimental to their health and wellbeing and, in far too many cases, have led to their untimely deaths.