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Radical responses to neoliberalism: immigrant rights in the global era


Contemporary debate about immigrants provides an opportunity to expand the conversation about race and class. Immigrants in the US complicate racial categories and class formation, putting them in flux, while simultaneously opening possibilities to address historical and contemporary racial and social inequalities. Migrants affect class relations within and across borders, contributing to the conversation and activity around global justice. The convergence of the immigrant rights struggle with the global justice movement has furthered strategies that do both—confront racism and class oppression.

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    To be sure, many nineteenth- and early twentieth-century immigrants were not regarded as “white” at the time of their arrival, but became so as a result of violent social conflict and historical processes creating different patterns of ethnic group identity (Roediger 1991; Ignatiev 1995).

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    Of course gender issues are also integral to the socialist project. See New Labor Forum (Summer 2008) and Eisenstein (2009).

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    According to a recent study published by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, “Bad jobs—ones that pay less than $17 an hour and provide neither health nor retirement benefits—account for about 30% of all jobs in the typical state.” This means that around 30% of Americans live in poverty, that is, around 90 million people (Fremstad et al. 2008).

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    Of course, class inequalities within immigrant groups may also be wide and are concentrated spatially.

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    Post Katrina New Orleans is an example. Many immigrants—particularly Latinos—were hired to “rebuild” New Orleans. The loss of what were union jobs and the immigration wave have been huge, leaving lots of Blacks out. Today, newcomers and their offspring comprise a growing proportion of the population of this once majority African–American city. The contours of the “new” New Orleans look more like a playground for the white middle and upper classes than a home for blacks and people of color.


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Hayduk, R. Radical responses to neoliberalism: immigrant rights in the global era. Dialect Anthropol 33, 157–173 (2009).

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  • Immigrants
  • Immigrant rights
  • Global justice
  • Human rights
  • Social movements
  • United States
  • Alliances
  • Coalition
  • Race
  • Class