This is the inaugural post of our new series, Authors on Issues, in which UIP authors weigh in on current events.

Valerie Francisco, author of the forthcoming book Labor of Care: Filipina Migrants and Transnational Families in a Global Digital Age, responded to the recent cover story in the Atlantic by Alex Tizon entitled “My Family’s Slave”. Labor of Care examines the impact of global care chains on the families of migrant women from the Philippines and the emergence of new forms of intimacy and care work as the women navigate and negotiate the emotional and material consequences of family separation. Labor of Care will be available in Spring 2018.

Lola’s Community

Eudocia Tomas Pulido was her name. In Alex Tizon’s recent cover story in The Atlantic, he revealed that his family called her Lola. In his melancholy and beautiful writing, Tizon captured what Lola’s life was like from his gaze. She was “gifted” to his mother at a young age; a practice stemming from a history of colonialism and the ongoing system of feudalism in the Philippines. As Tizon traces Lola’s life braided into his mother’s marriage and his upbringing, his heart wrenching account demonstrated that she was mostly isolated, subjugated and dejected. Her role as a domestic worker in his family, although essential, was often constrained by abuse and exploitation. At the end of Lola’s life, and sadly with Tizon’s untimely death as well (the story was published posthumously), Lola was a solitary character who lived a life that was hard and desolate.

There are and have been millions like Lola. Filipinas who have been bought, sold, traded and have chosen domestic servitude as work. The current politics and economic systems in the Philippines treat Filipinas as if they were goods, shipped all over the globe for the price of remittances. In fact, the Philippine’s labor export policy has made a $25 billion-dollar industry on Filipinas working as domestic workers in over 150 countries. So in all intents and purposes, Lola was not alone.

This is the tricky part for me.

Tizon captured Lola as a lonely and alone character in his life. And for the most part, I would agree that the lives of Filipinas working as domestic workers are often exhausting and back-breaking with little to no reprieve. But there were and are so many of them. So why was she so alone? Lola’s life was tiring and grim, like perhaps so many other Filipinas working as domestic workers.

But they are also indefatigable. Their spirits bafflingly resolute. Persistent. And often, in the midst of the mundane tasks of sustaining the life of a family—whether it be picking up or dropping off children from school or daycare, or collecting groceries for meals, or washing and drying laundry—Filipinas are also keen, almost strangely skilled, at finding one another. In aisles of grocery stores, benches in playgrounds, and pick up points in front of schools, they assess one another’s faces and accents sniffing out provinces and dialects. They find respite in one another, even in the ten-to-twenty minute wait before their charges come charging out. They exchange phone numbers, and before then letters, to connect with one another.

Maybe because Filipinas feel alone in the doldrums of their daily work; when they see someone who could be remotely Filipino, they are quick to throw a “kamusta?” out into the crowd like a fisherman casting a line out to the water. I’m sure Lola did this. If not her, someone must have done it to her. After all, she raised four children in a major U.S. city on the west coast, known ports of entry for Filipino migrants. A conversation must have started about her situation. Lola must have met someone she confided in. Someone she shared the contradiction of loving the family she worked for and hating that she couldn’t—wouldn’t—be able to imagine her life without working for them.

In my book Labor of Care: Filipina Migrants and Transnational Families in a Global Digital Age, I found that Filipinas in similar situations as Lola—trapped in domestic servitude by co-ethnic employers who brought them here to the U.S.—were often weary. However, it was a “community of care” that brought them respite and even, laughter, if they allowed it. Filipina migrants working as domestic workers would pool together in shared geographies of play dates and pick-ups. They’d share their daily tribulation mixed with their often transnational victory—a child’s graduation, a parent’s medical bill paid or a house bought in the Philippines. But they would share their innermost feelings over a train ride or a waiting session.

So perhaps Lola was lonely in her eyes, in the eyes of the family she served, in the words of Alex Tizon. But what if Lola was to tell her story? Maybe even a Filipina from her community? How, then, would her story be told?

–Valerie Francisco

 

 

Authors. Conversations. Books (lots of books). Dogs with bandannas. It’s time again for the Printer’s Row Book Fair, now in its 33rd Year as a Chicago Loop perennial. Skies promise to be as sunny as the faces staffing the booths.

Your University of Illinois Press will as usual present its latest books, plus stacks of favorites we have published over the last ninety-nine years of existence. The fest also presents us with a chance to make a dry run at next year’s celebration of our Press centennial.

hassen and cobbIn the meantime, members of the UIP Outreach Flying Squad, also known as the marketing department, stand ready at our always welcoming booth. Just look for Tent EE on Polk Street. While we’re not as funny as Printer’s Row speaker Al Franken, we will answer your questions and, if you are so moved, sell you some books, for instance our great new release Cemeteries of Illinois, the captivating and informed reference on the subject. Authors always drop by to chat about their books—or books, period.

As for official author signings, longtime Chicago observer Dick Simpson will sign his always-timely Corrupt Illinois from 12 noon to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 10.

From 1:00-2:00 p.m. on Saturday you can meet Lex Tate, coauthor of our new release An Illini Place: Building the University of Illinois Campus.

At 3:30 on Saturday, Printer’s Row stalwart Brian Dolinar will spend an hour signing and chatting about The Negro in Illinois: The WPA Papers.

 

 

 

 

Film Credit: Bob Greenberg at Brainwaves

haugebergWomen Against Abortion: Inside the Largest Moral Reform Movement of the Twentieth Century by Karissa Haugeberg was recently covered in The New York Review of Books in a review essay entitled “The Abortion Battlefield.” The reviewer called the book “excellent” and detailed its coverage of crisis pregnancy centers and activists such as Shelley Shannon. Check out the full essay here.

cooper beyond respectabilityBrittney C. Cooper’s new book Beyond Respectability: The Intellectual Thought of Race Women was recently reviewed on NPR! The reviewer described it “a work of crucial cultural study. . . . [Beyond Respectability] lays out the complicated history of black woman as intellectual force, making clear how much work she has done simply to bring that category into existence.” Check out the full review here.

shelton

Jon Shelton is an assistant professor of democracy and justice studies at University of Wisconsin Green Bay. He recently answered some questions about his book Teacher Strike!: Public Education and the Making of a New American Political Order.

Q: What inspired you to write this book?

Jon Shelton: For some time, I’ve been motivated to explain the political divisions in the United States that have emerged over the past couple of generations.  In particular, I wanted to know what has allowed wealth inequality to grow so dramatically since the 1970s and why working people have been less likely to have unions, and, relatedly, to face more economic insecurity and enjoy fewer protections in the workplace. I wanted to understand the divisions between workers in the public sector and the private sector—particularly as politicians, from Ronald Reagan in the late 1970s to Scott Walker today—have exploited those tensions to do damage to both groups.

Q: You mention that there were two major political interventions in the mid-twentieth century: labor unions and government programs. Why did you decide to focus on teacher unions specifically?

Shelton: When I undertook initial research on this project (almost ten years ago now!), I was very interested in how public perceptions of unions have changed over time.  I initially focused on the growth of the Major League Baseball Players Association under Marvin Miller in the 1970s, how the union gained free agency, and how the threat to the “American pastime” altered ideas about unions (I’ve actually written recently about some of this story here).  But as I was doing newspaper research, I kept coming across stories on teacher strikes.  I knew teachers had gone on strike, of course, during this era, but the newspaper coverage underscored how lengthy and dramatic the strikes were, as well as how they caused many Americans to rethink their assumptions about politics. The rest, as they say, is history.  I shifted directions, focusing my research on conflicts over teacher unions and education.

Q: Can you summarize what you mean by the term labor liberalism?

Shelton: Labor liberalism is an historical term used to characterize the political coalition that emerged during and after the New Deal.  The New Deal initiated a thirty-year period in which the government, at the federal, state, and local levels, expanded its role in the lives of Americans in order to provide more freedoms: access to education, social welfare programs, and workers’ rights to organize.  When the Wagner Act (1935) guaranteed the right to a union, working people gained higher wages, more job security, and much improved working conditions.  Unions became politically important and pushed liberals to do even more to expand social welfare and to ensure the wealthy paid their fair share of taxes.  So liberalism was very much pushed left by labor unions, and it doesn’t make sense to describe it during this era without including that connection.

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meyers - orwellToday marks the anniversary of the release of George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. An excerpt about the book from Orwell: Life and Art, by Jeffrey Meyers.

In Nineteen Eighty-Four the 1930s were the prerevolutionary past, the final phase of capitalism that led to atomic warfare, revolution, purges and the absolutism of Big Brother. Nineteen Eighty-Four is about the past as well as about the future and the present.

The past is one of the dominant themes of the novel. The Party confidently believes: “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” The Party can not only change the past but can also destroy it and authoritatively state: “it never happened.” By creating a new as well as destroying the old past, the Party can also arrange to predict events that have already taken place. Winston spends a great deal of time conversing with the proles, trying to recall and reestablish the personal and historical past that has been officially abolished, for he believes that the past may still exist in human memory. When Winston plots with O’Brien, they drink “To the past.” O’Brien gravely agrees that the past is more important than the future because under a system of organized lying only a remembrance of the past can prevent the disappearance of objective truth.
Orwell’s ideas about the capacity of language to express complex thoughts and feelings, to describe the dimensions of experience with accuracy and honesty, are central to Nineteen Eighty-Four. These ideas originate in Winston’s desire to rediscover his own past—in his dreams and his diary—and are contrasted to Ampleforth’s enthusiastic creation of Newspeak. In pursuing these thoughts about language, Orwell joined the literary debate about modern prose.

The Newspeak tendency to reduce the language, to limit the meaning and to reject abstract words was originally a positive aspect of modern prose that developed just after the Great War. Hemingway, who began his career as a journalist, was fascinated by the language of telegraphic cables that resembles the messages sent to Winston’s desk at the Ministry of Truth: “speech malreported africa rectify.” Hemingway told his colleague Lincoln Steffens: “Stef, look at this cable: no fat, no adjectives, no adverbs—nothing but blood and bones and muscle. It’s great. It’s a new language.” Influenced by Ezra Pound, Hemingway came to believe: “Prose is architecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over.”

EOPOn June 5, 1942, the Herald-News in Joliet reported on one of the deadliest industrial accidents in state history: the explosion at the Elwood Ordnance Plant. At 2:41 a.m., an explosion took place in a loading line at a plant Building 10. Workers had been loading anti-tank pressure minds into railroad cars. Whatever happened next set off three railroad cars loaded with the weapons, an explosive weight equal to approximately 62,600 lbs. of TNT. The blast shattered windows for miles around and was allegedly heard in Waukegan, close to 100 miles away. The 48 killed made it the deadliest US ammunition plant incident of World War II.

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We’re a day late with this bit of recognition, but here goes.

On June 1, 2014, a same sex marriage law passed the previous fall went into effect across the state of Illinois. Passed over opposition and claims it violated religious freedoms, he law was the end result of a years-long march by advocates. Similar legislation—either for marriage or civil unions—had been introduced annually since 2007. Passage finally undid a state ban on same-sex marriage in effect since 1996.

Not that people waited until June 1. U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman issued a ruling in February that allowed couples in Cook County to go ahead with their nuptials. David Orr, the county clerk, famously kept his offices open late on Friday, February 21, to handle the extra business. Champaign County’s county clerk, Gordy Hulten, cited the Cook County ruling and followed Cook County’s lead five days later. A smattering of other counties followed. Just over a year after the Illinois law went into effect, the US Supreme Court ruled that bans on same-sex marriage, or refusal to recognize such unions, violated the 14th Amendment.

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reading - be kind to books clubToday marks the open of Book Expo, also known as @BookExpoAmerica, the trade show at the center of the publishing world. Every year, industry types congregate in a selected city to browse a small town of displays. Like all towns, you see the haves with their carpeting and leather chairs and archway’d entrances; and the have-nots who make due with a banner, a table, and a few snacks.

The overriding goal of a publisher at Book Expo remains nebulous, impressionistic, perhaps inexplicable. The practical goal of the people attending the event, however, is rooted solidly in the material world: (1) free books; (2) free tote bags to carry those books.

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