Documenting the Undocumented: Latino/a Narratives and Social Justice in the Era of Operation Gatekeeper.

Author:Sierra, Luis M.
Position:LATIN AMERICA - Book review
 
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Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. Documenting the Undocumented: Latino/a Narratives and Social Justice in the Era of Operation Gatekeeper. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2017.

Documenting the Undocumented: Latino/a Narratives and Social Justice in the Era of Operation Gatekeeper is a work of literary criticism that analyzes several genres of immigration literature published in the last twenty-five years. Marta Caminero-Santangelo considers narratives of and by the undocumented in an era that has witnessed the shunting of migrants through desert routes in the US Southwest. She examines work by journalists, Latino and non-Latino authors of fiction, accounts by the undocumented, and accounts by DREAMers. Three basic concepts--testimony, trauma, and ethics--weave their way through the analysis and Caminero-Santangelo ultimately examines if and how these narratives will compel readers to what she calls an "ethics of action." Moreover, she exposes the shortcomings of works that purport to provide "a voice for the voiceless" but allow empathy to substitute for a true ethics of action.

Caminero-Santangelo examines how fiction by Latino and non-Latino authors has been reshaped since the militarization of the border and specifically since the increased emphasis on border enforcement at urban crossing sites. The author demonstrates how this hardened border has reshaped views of border spaces, immigration, and legal status. Documenting the Undocumented asks readers to reconsider the terminology, purpose, and aims of immigrant literature. Caminero-Santangelo uses the concepts of testimony, trauma, and ethics to assess the purpose of this literature. The latter half of the book is noteworthy for its synthesis of the literatures of famous Caribbean authors and the memoirs of the undocumented who have crossed the US-Mexico border, which are usually treated separately. Documenting the Undocumented examines these as constellations of literature. In chapter 3, she analyzes the work of Caribbean authors Junot Diaz, Cristina Garcia, Julia Alvarez, and other non-Latino/a authors who are US citizens to show how they retain differences in origins but demonstrate solidarity with noncitizen migrants. Caminero-Santangelo demonstrates how country of origin frames narratives of the undocumented and how proximity changes writers' views of the border. Her work on the migrants' narratives is especially innovative for its emphasis on the need for an ethics of action...

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