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Citizenship Excess

Citizenship excess is a political and media theory that explains ethno-racial inequality as the product of the nation-state and the political, cultural, and legal systems that sustain it. In particular, citizenship excess explains why Latinas/os in general and immigrant Latinas/os in particular are the target of so much ethnic resentment and hate by a large portion of the citizenry and by mainstream politicians, media, and law. I find the problem very complex and traditional racial explanations of why this is happening rather unsatisfactory. Traditional U.S. explanations ofNativism at its worse
race, such as those put forward by Michael Omi and Howard Winant (1994), emphasize vertical racial hierarchies within nations. Their theory of racial formations would explain anti-Latino and anti-immigrant sentiment as a sort of pushing down of these communities with the goal of reproducing a vertical racial hierarchy with whites on top and the rest fighting for political crumbs. As in Omi and Winant’s explanation, citizenship excess starts with empirically verifiable vertical racial hierarchies in the United States, but it historicizes and theorizes these hierarchies in transnational terms, as hierarchies that are not strictly vertical: they are also about geography, about the difference between the here and there, about borders, about us-versus-them and the protection of the nation-state. Citizenship excess hence explains anti-Latino and anti-immigrant sentiment as both a pushing down (racism) and a pushing away (xenophobia) that accomplishes the goal of preserving the ethno-racial character of the nation-state. That is, citizenship excess is concerned with the ability of whites to claim a legitimate monopoly over the state. This ability is based in ideas of race that not only work internally (as vertical hierarchies) but are always embedded in transnational relations and politics because Activist do not give up, but they strugglethey originated in transnational relations and were used to justify internal and external colonialism. I call this theory citizenship excess because it is the citizen who is the political actor within the nation-state, because citizenship is how we articulate the relationship of individuals to states, and therefore citizenship and its excess is how we express ethno-racial supremacy.

To construct political legitimacy in today’s society requires media, and therefore citizenship excess is also a media theory that explains how media structures participate in the pushing down and the pushing away of Latinas/os. The pushing down is done by discriminating against Latino participation in mainstream media (discussed in chapter 5) and by foreclosing Latino participation in media narratives that problematize Latino life in the United States (discussed in chapters 3 and 6). As in politics, the pushing down secures the preservation of vertical ethno-racial hierarchies.2 The pushing away is accomplished in media through processes of ethnic and linguistic balkanization that separate Spanish-language media (SLM), the only segment of U.S. media that consistently serves Latinas/os, from mainstream media, which most Americans define in linguistic terms (discussed in chapters 2 and 4). Ugly Betty means inclusion, but in quite ambivalent termsThe pushing away reconstructs the walls that stop access of Latinas/os to traditional ethno-racially white media, hence making it practically impossible for Latinas/os to participate in the majority’s public sphere. Both the discrimination (pushing down) and balkanization (pushing away) of Latinas/os secure the supremacy of ethno-racially white interests in political cultures and over the state.



Preface and Acknowledgments

Introduction: Latinas/os and Citizenship Excess

Part I: Defending the Walls

1          Toward a Latino Critique of Public Sphere Theory

2          Nativism and the 2006 Pro-immigration Reform Rallies

3          Hutto: Staging Transnational Justice Claims in the Time of Coloniality

4          English- and Spanish-Language Media

Part II: Conditions of Inclusion

5          Labor and the Legal Structuring of Media Industries in the Case of Ugly Betty (ABC, 2006)

6          Mediating Belonging, Inclusion, and Death

Conclusion: The Ethics of Nation


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