Alumni Spotlight: Leah Perry's Anthology Chapter & Book Project

Alumni Spotlight: Leah Perry's Anthology Chapter & Book Project

The program congratulates Leah Perry, alumna of the PhD program and Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies at SUNY Empire State College, who has published a chapter in the anthology American Shame: Stigma and the Body Politic (Indiana University Press, 2016).  Her chapter is entitled "Neoliberal Crimmigration: The “Common Sense” Shaming of the Undocumented" and together with other chapters, it explores the role of shame as cultural practice and how it enforces conformity. 

She also has a book coming out in September called The Cultural Politics of U.S. Immigration: Gender, Race, and Media (New York University Press, 2016). 

In her book, Dr. Perry explains the role that immigration discourses in law and popular media in the 1980s had on the development of neoliberalism and globalization. To make her claim, she uses comparative analysis of immigration studies blended with a feminist media studies methodology. 

Abstract for The Cultural Politics of U.S. Immigration (forthcoming, September 2016)

The Cultural Politics of U.S. Immigration: Gender, Race, and Media argues that 1980s immigration discourses in law and popular media were a crucial ingredient in the development of neoliberalism and globalization. Amid increasing immigration from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia in the 1980s, the language and common imagery surrounding immigration debates was transformed. In Reagan's America, the circle of who was considered American seemed to broaden, reflecting democratic gains made by racial minorities and women, and that broader definition was increasingly visible in the daily lives of Americans via TV shows, films, and popular news media. Yet these gains were circumscribed by gendered and race-based discourses, such that certain immigrants were feared, censured, or welcome exclusively as laborers. Through a fine-grained comparative analysis of immigration discourses about Latin Americans, Asians, and white ethnic European Americans in a range of sources—including legal documents, congressional debates, and popular media—I show how, as part of the neoliberal project, “multicultural” immigrants seemed to be embraced, but were at the same time disciplined through gendered discourses of respectability. Thus, The Cultural Politics of U.S. Immigration revises current understandings of neoliberalism by adding a consideration of questions of legal status and gender to existing discussions about race and ethnicity. This blend of critical legal analysis of immigration with feminist media studies methodology also advances an ongoing conversation in American Studies and Cultural Studies about the relationship between law and culture, and offers a fresh perspective on the formation of contemporary American identities.