Almost 30 years ago, following the lead of scholars and thinkers of color and from the global South, anthropologist Faye Harrison and some of her colleagues published Decolonizing Anthropology: Moving Further Toward an Anthropology of Liberation
. Harrison asked her readers: "How can anthropological knowledge advance the interests of the world’s majority during this period of ongoing crisis and uncertainty?" The lives of many have become even more precarious in the ensuing decades, among them people who have emigrated to the United States in search of greater economic stability.
Decolonizing Ethnography: Undocumented Immigrants and New Directions in Social Science
(Duke University Press, 2019) responds directly to Harrison's call. The book explores ways in which ethnography, as practiced by people who have historically been objects of ethnographic study, can yield transformative and liberatory results. During former President Obama's second term, immigrant activists Lucía López Juárez and Mirian A. Mijangos García conducted ethnographic research on the effects of the securitization of immigration on the undocumented people of a New Jersey community, in collaboration with Professors Carolina Alonso Bejarano
and Daniel M. Goldstein
of Rutgers University. The work of these four people on the project is captured in their coauthorship of the book.
During their work on the study, Lucía and Mirian frequently were able to educate and exhort those they interviewed to exercise their rights under state and federal law. And the four authors collaborated on and performed in a play based on Mirian's work injury and successful court case. The entire play is available to the reader in the book in both English and Spanish and it is the authors' hope that it will be performed for the education and inspiration of other undocumented people.
The book features illustrations by Peter Quach
Amy E. Brown, who is a cohost of the Critical Theory channel, is a writer and liberal arts enthusiast. Her professional and academic background includes technical communication, law, and history. She tweets occasionally at @AmyEBrown3 and you can also find her on LinkedIn.