Deanna Barenboim

BA, Sarah Lawrence College. MA, PhD, University of Chicago. Special interests in political/legal anthropology and medical/psychiatric anthropology; transnational migration, diaspora, and mobilities; race, ethnicity, and indigeneity; urbanism, space, and place; expressive culture; new media; Maya peoples, languages, and cultures; Mexico and Latin America; North America. Recipient of grants and fellowships from US Department of Education, Fulbright, and National Science Foundation. SLC, 2009–2017, 2018

Research Interests

My research focuses on transnational migration, (im)mobilities, and socio-legal inequalities. I ask how movement across borders and encounters with immigration policies and enforcement practices produce emergent political subjectivities, experiential orientations, and forms of exclusion and belonging. Over the past decade, my research has centered on indigenous Mexican migration to the United States, with particular attention to Maya migration from the Yucatán region to California. Between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s, over 50,000 people of Maya heritage migrated from Mexico to California, with the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles as the two major receiving hubs. Through my transnational research on this new Maya diaspora, I analyze how race, legal identity, and claims to space, place, and movement co-construct indigenous experience and imaginaries. Emerging from this project, my monograph, Belonging Out of Place, addresses migrants’ experience of racial and legal exclusion in an unexpected place: a zone that offers official sanctuary protections. In related work, I write about the relationship of law enforcement, migrant imaginaries, and Indigenous (im)mobilities in the context of particular immigration policies and deportation campaigns, as well as the linkages of indigenous heritage, material culture, and historical legacies of dispossession. Currently, I am undertaking a research project that looks at the effects of return migration, deportation, and familial separation on transborder citizenship and belonging.

Undergraduate Courses 2018-2019

Anthropology

Indigenous Mobilities

Open , Seminar—Spring

Indigeneity, by definition, calls into play complex relations to place. In this course, we will address contemporary indigenous experience, politics, and imaginaries in the Americas by exploring questions of place as well as of movement. How might our notions of indigenous peoples and cultures shift if we consider mobility as central to indigenous life? How are connections to ancestral territories and homelands implicated in, or altered by, the increasingly globalized world we inhabit? Looking at indigeneity on the move, we will invoke notions of borderlands and boundaries and explore forms of geographic, social, and virtual mobilities and their intersections with race, legal identity, and claims to space and place. We will look at the new forms of mobility evidenced by recent indigenous transnational migration, as well as the histories of chosen and forced movement, displacement, and dispossession that continually shape the Native American and indigenous experience.

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Spaces of Exclusion, Places of Belonging

Intermediate , Seminar—Fall

How do people construct meaningful places in a favela in Brazil or in the hill farms of Scotland? What should we make of “place-less” spaces or states such as those instantiated through technologies like social media or Hindu yogic and meditative practice? How should we understand notions of displacement, transborder identifications, or longings for homeland, as they play out for Sierra Leonean Muslims in Washington, DC, Ecuadorians in Italy, or indigenous Latin American migrants in California and Wyoming? This course explores issues of identity and difference, locality and community, in the context of transnational mobility and the globalized flow of people, ideas, values, and things. Engaging with recent scholarly work in the fields of anthropology, critical race studies, critical indigenous studies, sociology, geography, architecture, and literature, we will seek to decode sociospatial arrangements to better understand structures and processes of exclusion and marginalization. At the same time, we will observe how people’s navigations through space and their efforts at place-making create sites of collective identity, resistance, belonging, and recognition. Posed in a wide range of ethnographic contexts, our efforts to puzzle through these issues will require attention to the ways in which space and place are, for instance, embodied, gendered, racialized, and (il)legalized. We will likewise attend to the politics and ethics of postcolonial scholarship on space and place and to the meanings of an engaged anthropology that leans toward social justice.

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Previous Courses

Indigenous Rights and Representations

Open , Seminar—Spring

What role do native identities play in global social and political movements? How do ideas about indigenous peoples shape nationalist sensibilities and international projects? How do notions of cultural authenticity and autonomy figure in the discourse of indigenous rights? Attending to the legacies of colonialism, this course addresses postcolonial representations, performances, and politics of indigeneity—by indigenous people themselves, as well as by others—in places such as Guatemala, Mexico, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, and the United States. Through a close look at ethnographic texts on this topic, we will investigate how perceptions about and participation by indigenous peoples have figured in environmental activism, transnational trade agreements, educational reform, nationalist campaigns, multiculturalist politics, and international migration. Our course readings will explore how indigeneity is engaged in struggles such as the Zapatista resistance movement in Chiapas, Mexico; the pan-indigenous mobilization against environmental pollution in Ecuador; and efforts toward social justice in the aftermath of ethnic genocide in Guatemala. We will attend to the role of globalization, transnational mobilities, and technological innovation in emergent social movements, as well as new imaginings of indigenous identity. And we will contemplate the implications of indigenous intellectuals’ increasing presence as key actors in both academic and public debate. At the culmination of the course, interested students may opt to participate in the annual meetings of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

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Mobilities and Moorings

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Fall

In our increasingly globalized world, there is much talk of people, things, and ideas “on the move.” Over the past decade, sedentarist assumptions within the social sciences that fix people in place have given way to a “mobility turn” that emphasizes flows and movement across borders. In this course, we will attend to intersecting mobilities and immobilities from the vantage point of anthropology and related disciplines, with particular attention to the topic of migration and diaspora. Our ethnographic exploration of this subject matter will take us from Ghanaian fishing villages to Italian cityscapes, from Oaxacan weaving towns to the suburbs of Oregon, to the interstitial spaces of Internet cafes in the Philippines and beyond. Such forays will lead us to grapple with a series of related questions: What are the structures and technologies that enhance some people’s freedom of movement while constraining other people’s abilities to leave a place or to stay in place? What role does entrapment, enclosure, or expulsion play in the making and reinforcing of material, social, and political boundaries and borders? How might migrants and other travelers invoke creative forms of movement in order to affect social mobility? In what ways do these intersecting actual and virtual (im)mobilities assist us in understanding the relationship between space and place, exclusion and belonging? Students will be invited to conduct original ethnographic fieldwork or service learning as part of their conference work.

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Language, Politics, and Identity

Open , Seminar—Spring

This course will ask how words do things in the world, exploring the complex linkages between language, politics, and identity in both past and present contexts. We will pose a range of questions, such as: How does language enable powerful regimes to take force, and how do linguistic innovations constitute a creative means to challenge oppression? What role do the politics and poetics of language play in broader social movements and cultural revitalization efforts? How do particular political configurations produce language shift or constrain the possibilities for verbal expression in specific social groups? How does language take shape through specific narrative forms like testimonio, and how do such forms constitute or enable acts of political resistance? We will look at such topics in a range of ethnographic contexts, with a special focus on the Americas. Our readings will address case studies including: the emergent Zapotec language and music revival in the highlands of Oaxaca, Mexico; the lexicon of terror that shaped the political kidnappings and murders of Argentina’s Dirty Wars; the legacies of secrecy, silence, and creative resistance among Pueblo nations in the US Southwest; the challenges and joys of bilingualism among transnational migrants; and the acts of narrative witnessing employed by a range of activists including political prisoners, indigenous rights leaders, and undocumented youth. Students will be invited to draw upon original linguistic research as a central part of their conference work.

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