Social Text Journal: Reconfiguring representation

By Christian Rossipal
Social Text Journal

The Undocumented Everyday (Rebecca M. Schreiber)In the face of structural dispossession and intensified border regimes, what does it mean to demand or to defy “more visibility” and “better representation” as an undocumented migrant? This is a central question in Rebecca M. Schreiber’s recently published The Undocumented Everyday: Migrant Lives and the Politics of Visibility. In the book, Schreiber examines how migrants from Mexico and Central America use documentary film and photography both to “be seen” and to challenge imposed hypervisibility. While complicating the notion of a link between empowerment and visibility, Schreiber also shows how entrenched ideas about representation are at work in actual political struggles. This critical double move makes for a compelling intervention. Although the book is limited to a critical discourse–with language cast in rather standard academic molds–it gestures beyond its own limits and towards alternative practices and modes of belonging that are irreducible to nation, state, or citizenship.

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