Wednesday, December 31, 2014
December 31, 2014: End of Year Stories: The Immigration Debate
[While I don’t consistently cover current events in this space, I do try when I can to connect the histories, stories, and issues on which I focus to our contemporary moment. But sometimes it’s important to flip that script, and to contextualize some of those contemporary connections. So this week, I’ll do that with five ongoing American stories. I’d love to hear your thoughts, on them and on any other current stories!]
On two pieces of mine that have contributed to an unfolding debate.
In late November, President Obama announced perhaps the most controversial single policy of his presidency to date: his plan for addressing the interconnected issues of illegal immigration, deportations of undocumented immigrant parents, border security, and more. As someone who’s hoping and working to become an AmericanStudies public scholar, contributing to our national conversations and collective memories around precisely such issues, and someone who’s most recent book focused overtly on immigration in American history and culture, this felt like a very significant moment. And I’m proud to say that I was able to add my voice and ideas to those conversations, in one particularly striking and one smaller but still I believe meaningful way:
1) The striking effort was this post on the Talking Points Memo (TPM) website. As of this writing (on November 23rd), the post has received just under 70,000 views, more than 31,000 Facebook likes, and has become one of TPM’s most viewed and shared stories in months. While I’d love to take all the credit for that success (along with my colleagues at the Scholars Strategy Network who helped me place the piece), I believe it was due at least as much to perfect timing as to anything in my writing and ideas. And I’d say that’s been a vital public scholarly lesson I’m continuing to learn—to put myself and my work in position to capitalize on things like timing and opportunity, rather than waiting for audience or conversation to come to me.
2) The smaller effort (in terms of my contribution, not the piece overall) was this collectively authored post on the new U.S. version of The Conversation. My own contribution was a concise version of the TPM post, which is the only reason I’m describing it as smaller. Because in truth, one of the most vital parts of public scholarship is (no pun intended) conversation, putting our own voice and ideas in dialogue with all those around us, which certainly includes our fellow scholars such as the great group who contributed to that post. As these immigration debates unfold, I believe it’ll be vitally important for many such scholarly voices to take part, and I’m excited and honored to be among those who have had the chance to do so.
Next current story tomorrow,
PS. What do you think? Other current events you’d highlight?