Borders, Emotions, & Imaginaries: Magnifying Immigrant Experiences and Immigrant Histories

Ever wonder what it would be like to spend a summer on a project with four other UCI undergraduates, and one of the group’s tasks is to identify at least 100 books on your topic—a giant literature review—to share in a public display in Langson Library?  Those efforts produced “Borders, Emotions, & Imaginaries: Magnifying Immigrant Experiences and Immigrant Histories,” the October 2018 Off the Shelf & On Display exhibit, on view right behind the “Ask Us” reference desk on the right as you enter the building.

The five-student team, Puertas y Ventanas con Corazón (Doors and Windows with Heart), under the advisement of Dr. Ana Elizabeth Rosas (Chicano/Latino Studies and History), also organized an all-day symposium, “Generatively Humane: Inclusive Approaches to Undocumented Experiences and Histories,” which accompanies the exhibit.  More details about the Oct. 5 symposium at UCI:

Immigration is the focus of the October exhibit and symposium, examining the experiences and histories of undocumented Americans.  A sign atop the exhibit shelves invites readers “to learn more about the emotive configuration, range, and toll of the immigrant experience, immigration history, and immigration laws within and beyond the United States through rigorous and humane scholarship. Each of the collaborations and publications framing the scholarship at the center of this book selection and display aspires to inspire an informed approach toward the immigrant experience and immigrant rights with urgency and evidence.”

The Libraries are pleased to provide UCI students with this venue for assembling and displaying books on practically any topic. The Off the Shelf and On Display exhibits can be curated by student groups: the January 2018 exhibit was curated by the Feminist Illuminati – a group devoted to countering hate speech and dismantling intersecting systems of oppression – and featured a book display on intersectional feminist texts and a talk by invited speaker Samhita Mukhopadhyay. They can also be associated with credit courses, such as the May 2018 exhibit on stories of labor and workers from the Spanish-speaking community curated by students of Chicano/Latino Studies 156W. The November 2018 exhibit will also be curated by students, and will explore texts related to “Performing Whiteness: An Examination of the Construction and Perpetuation of Racial Hierarchy.”

Exhibits generated by courses are a rich opportunity for them to critically evaluate the most relevant 60-100 books on their subject, including those not in the UCI Libraries’ collections; we purchase those they’ve discovered at books stores, via InterLibrary Loan, personal collections, etc.  By doing so they are helping us add materials we should have.  Curating an exhibit immerses students in a far larger environment of books than most would interact with during a quarter-long course with finite readings and textbooks.  They discover how much has been written—and from so many perspectives over many years–on a topic they care about.

Territories of the Soul: Queered Belonging in the Black Diaspora

Territories of the SoulThis week, the Off the Shelf and on Display blog features Nadia Ellis’s Territories of the Soul: Queered Belonging in the Black Diaspora.  An Assistant Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley, Ellis specializes in African diasporic, Caribbean, and postcolonial literatures and cultures. Her research traces the trajectories of literary and expressive cultures from the Caribbean to Britain to the United States.

Ellis underscores her research interests in the text’s introduction when she states that:

In this book I explore diasporic aesthetics and subjectivity where a persistent sense of the insufficiency of existing modes of belonging is matched by an awareness that new forms remain inspiringly elusive. Studying figures across the twentieth century and into the twenty-first who represent an urgent desire for an outside–an outside of the nation, an outside of empire, an outside of traditional forms of genealogy and family relations, an outside of chronological and spatial limitations–the texts I analyze evince striking features of longing, non-fulfillment, and suspension (3.4).

Nadia EllisThis is a fascinating study that will be of interest to students and faculty from a wide variety of academic backgrounds, as Ellis includes readings of authors such as C.L.R. James, James Baldwin, and Andrew Salkey.

As the title of this months display is Diverse People Unite, Ellis reminds us that such unification often calls for, and may indeed require, us to consider, “eccentric, troubling, or failed attempts to construct diasporic community that, by virtue of being attempts, amplify the call for something even better” (10).

Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela-Mandela (26 September 1936-2 April 2018)

Keeping with the subject matter of this month’s book display, Diverse People Unite, we would like to notify readers that Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela-Mandela died today.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela during her exile in Brandfort in 1977.
Image: Gallo Images/ Avusa Archives/ Peter Magubane

A special thanks to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library for sharing this story.

To learn more about this story, please visit the Times Live.