2016. "Racialized Illegality: The Regulation of Informal Labor and Space." Latino Studies 14 (3): 320–343.
Drawing from ethnographic fieldwork in Oakland, California, this paper analyzes the construction of racialized forms of difference between indigenous and non-indigenous workers, based on an examination of their solicitation practices at day labor hiring zones. I reveal how the construction of these racialized divisions shapes how workers organize themselves at hiring zones, and impacts their migration experience and relationship with the host community. I argue that migrants’ experience of illegality must be seen as coterminous with other forms of difference that produces new modes of discrimination not solely reducible to legal status. My concept “racialized illegality” draws attention to how migrants’ experience of illegality exacerbates racial divisions amongst Latino subgroups. Racialized illegality is an analytical tool to push scholarship to asses how an increasingly racially diverse group of Latin American migrants is experiencing migration and settlement processes.
2015. “Spatializing Chicano Power: Cartographic Memory and Community Practices of Care.” Social Justice 42 (3-4): 46-66.
This paper broadens the scope of the Chicano movement by moving away from an analysis of militant and protest forms of organizing. Instead, I analyze neighborhood grassroots organizing and institution-building projects centered on practices of community care. Utilizing ethnographic engagement with several community-based organizations in the Fruitvale district of Oakland, CA this paper foregrounds the centrality of space and spatial relations in how people experienced the Chicano movement. I demonstrate how Chicano movement activists built robust cultural politics of place that shaped how they understood the movement’s impacts on community formation. I analyze how for many activists, space served as an archive of organized practices of community care. Activists deployed what I call cartographic memory to advance political claims to power that operated through space. Through activists’ deployments of cartographic memory, they challenged conceptions of the movement’s decline and pointed to space and institutions as proof of its continued significance.
2012. “Unsettling the Geography of Oakland’s War on Poverty: Mexican American Political Organizations and the Decoupling of Poverty and Blackness.” Du Bois Review 9(2): 375–393.
Historical studies of the War on Poverty have overwhelmingly focused on its consequences in African American communities. Many studies have grappled with how War on Poverty innovations co-opted a thriving African American social movement. This paper explores the impact of War on Poverty programs on the development of a political cadre of Mexican American grassroots leaders in Oakland, California. It investigates how coordinated 1960s protests by Mexican American organizations reveal Oakland’s changing racial/ethnic conditions and shifting trends in the state’s relationship to the urban poor. It demonstrates how a national shift to place-based solutions to poverty devolved the “problem of poverty” from the national to the local level and empowered a new set of actors—community-based organizations—in the fight against poverty. This essay argues that the devolution of federal responsibility for welfare provided the political and institutional opening for the rise of powerful Mexican American organizations whose goal was the recognition of a “Mexican American community” meriting government intervention. This essay also demonstrates how Mexican American organizations mobilized in relation to African American social movements and to geographies of poverty that were deemed exclusively Black.
Anti-indigenous racism contours the regulation of informal labor and has spatial effects which impact migrants' experiences of "illegality"