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How migration can create new forms of intimacy across cultural, religious, and racial lines

Intimacy across Borders

Race, Religion, and Migration in the U.S. Midwest

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Jane Juffer

"Intimacy across Borders is a stimulating, original, and nuanced understanding of immigration, desire, and encounter. Juffer’s book has both a tone of urgency and a contemporary relevance that are compelling. She deftly uses the frameworks of personal experience and cultural studies to bring together theories of encounter with actual lived experience. Her anchoring the text in the Reformed Church communities of Iowa is sophisticated, and the religious and cultural material is well integrated. Intimacy across Borders will advance the understanding of intercultural encounters from a theological and philosophical as well as a sociological perspective."
Ann Hostetler, Professor of English at Goshen College

Examining how encounters produced by migration lead to intimacies-ranging from sexual, spiritual, and neighborly to hateful and violent, Jane Juffer considers the significant changes that have occurred in small towns following an influx of Latinos to the Midwest.

Intimacy across Borders situates the story of the Dutch Reformed Church in Iowa and South Africa within a larger analysis of race, religion, and globalization. Drawing on personal narrative, ethnography, and sociopolitical critique, Juffer shows how migration to rural areas can disrupt even the most thoroughly entrenched religious beliefs and transform the schools, churches, and businesses that form the heart of small-town America. Conversely, such face-to-face encounters can also generate hatred, as illustrated in the increasing number of hate crimes against Latinos and the passage of numerous anti-immigrant ordinances.

Juffer demonstrates how Latino migration to new areas of the U.S. threatens certain groups because it creates the potential for new kinds of families—mixed race, mixed legal status, and transnational—that challenge the conservative definition of community based on the racially homogeneous, coupled, citizen family.

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Excerpt

Read the Introduction (pdf).

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Reviews

"Juffer's Intimacy across Borders is richly imagined, intellectually astute, and gracefully written. It makes significant contributions to Latina/o studies in particular and cultural studies and ethnic studies in general. Indeed, it dynamically combines journalistic inquiry with academic know-how as it marshals its reader through its investigation of racialized identities, an ethics of community, the politics of migration, and the ever-growing population of Latina/os in the United States. Juffer’s acumen will engage scholars and general readers in thinking about love and community."
Ralph E. Rodriguez, Associate Professor of American Studies, Ethnic Studies, and English at Brown University

"There is a substantial literature addressing the new immigration, but very little of it explores the effects of immigration on religious communities in rural areas. Intimacy across Borders—part memoir, part philosophical reflection, part observational account of life in communities changed by immigration—is a welcome addition to that bibliography.... The book is strongest when looking at the issue of personal encounter, providing narratives of individuals and their encounters, exploring the way that migration shapes one’s preconceptions of the world as one encounters others across lines of difference."
Review of Religious Research

"Juffer's book is worth considering because it documents some recent history and contemporary trends in one Iowa locale.... The historical substance of her book lies in Juffer's on-site interviews of Sioux County Latinos and others.... Such material is significant for any future historical study.... [R]eaders will glean some interesting things about some recent developments in Sioux County."
The Annals of Iowa

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Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments

1. Introduction
2. Two Lives
3. Hybrid Faiths
4. Spaces of Difference
5. Mother Love
6. Too Close to Home

Notes
Works Cited
Index

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About the Author(s)

Jane Juffer is Professor of English and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Cornell University. She is the author of At Home with Pornography: Women, Sex, and Everyday Life and Single Mother: The Emergence of the Domestic Intellectual.

Subject Categories

Race and Ethnicity
Cultural Studies
Immigration Studies

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