Borderlands and Latino Studies Seminar: Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof, University of Michigan and Kristy Ulibarri, University of Illinois at Chicago

Friday, January 28, 2011

3:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Borderlands and Latino/a Studies Seminar

Scholl Center Seminar papers are pre-circulated electronically.  For a copy of the paper, e-mail the Scholl Center at  Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.

“To Abolish the Law of Castes: Merit, Manhood, and the Problem of Color in the Puerto Rican Liberal Movement, 1873-1892”
Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof, University of Michigan

This essay traces the involvement of three men of low social rank in the evolution of liberal politics in Puerto Rico during the final decades of Spanish colonial rule. It examines how Ramón Marín, Sotero Figueroa, and Francisco Gonzalo (Pachín) Marín, men with African ancestry along with other “defects” of birth, negotiated the systems of social exclusion that operated in Puerto Rico in the 1860s and 1870s, to become men of modest public standing, writers, and members of abolitionist and colonial reform movements. These experiences of exclusion and social mobility shaped their ideas about race, class, and liberalism. Their story helps to unravel the complexities of Puerto Rican racial politics, too often flattened into a story of racial silencing and denial. It is also important to the study of early Latino settlement on the east coast of the U.S. In the 1890s Figueroa and Pachín Marín lived in New York where they helped create the Cuban Revolutionary Party.

“The (Necro)State of Immigration: La Ciudad and a Politics of Labor
Kristy L. Ulibarri, University of Illinois at Chicago

This paper interprets the relationship between Latino laboring bodies and immigration under free-market policies through David Riker’s film La Ciudad as performing a theory of necropolitics. I explore how immigration and labor are inextricably united under neoliberalism. As policy and discourse, neoliberalism calls for a “free” and unregulated market, yet simultaneously, the nation continues to regulate immigration. I argue that this tension between neoliberalism and the nation-state produces violence on Latin-American immigrant bodies coming to the U.S. for labor within the film, demonstrating that this violence has deadly consequences that represent “the politics of death.”

Commentator: Maria Cotera, University of Michigan