The number of colleagues and friends whose feedback and suggestions helped improve this project is beyond the space I have available here to mention. But those who took the time to read and talk with me about it I cannot thank enough.
Writing about anti-migrant violence and the participatory politics of white cruelty had not been the plan. Prior to the 2016 election, I had been researching not white nativists but Latino conservatives. Like many other scholars at the end of the Obama era, I saw the politics of neoliberal multiculturalism as an entrenched and ascendant phenomenon—even among Republicans. I was interested in analyzing the political challenges and possibilities that occur when Latino conservatives invoke their race and gender identities to articulate their conservative worldview. At the same time, like other Latinx scholars inspired by the immigrant-rights movement, I was writing and teaching about how migrants had been organizing, resisting, and claiming rights in the context of increased xenophobia and ongoing criminalization.
What I failed to anticipate was how a deep desire to reassert whiteness would lead conservatives to spurn pragmatic multiculturalism in favor of a white nativism they found more viscerally satisfying. Following Trump’s election and the immediate and aggressive targeting of migrants, I realized that before I could make sense of Latinx conservatism, I needed to understand the status of migrants within this overwrought and emboldened nativist imaginary. This book is the result.
I am grateful to the following institutions for their hospitality and generative feedback: the University of Washington’s Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race, and Sexuality; Fordham University’s Workshop in Social and Political Philosophy; the American Studies Workshop Series at Princeton University; and the Junior Faculty Speaker Series in the Political Science Department at the University of Michigan.
I am especially appreciative of two invitations I received while working on this project: that from Joe Lowndes and Debra Thompson, whom I thank for inviting me to participate in the Race and Politics Workshop at the University of Oregon, and that from Mary Louise Pratt, Renato Rosaldo, and Felipe Gonzales, to whom I am grateful for inviting me to join the Advanced Seminar Program at the School of Advanced Research in Santa Fe. Both multiday workshops put me in conversation with a community of scholars whose feedback was truly transformative.
I also want to thank Pieter Martin at the University of Minnesota Press for his enthusiasm for this project and for shepherding it to completion and Joe Lowndes for his invaluable suggestions and feedback on the manuscript.
I was lucky to work on this project in many locations—Los Angeles, London, Montréal, Reykjavík, Bozeman, Portland, Edinburgh, Santa Fe, and New York—and with travel paused, I am constantly reminded that when it comes to finding joy, who you’re with matters more than where you are. With that, I dedicate this book to my husband, Matthew Budman, whose support and invaluable editorial feedback always push me to sharpen my language and claims. Thank you for being not only the love of my life but the best quarantine buddy ever.