Undocumented Fears: Immigration and the Politics of Divide and Conquer in Hazleton, Pennsylvania

Thursday September 29, 7:30PM

@ Red Emma's

"Using a magnifying lens to study immigrant bashing in his hometown, Jamie Longazel brings into sharp focus the anti-Latino racism at the heart of national politics today. Even as we as a society struggle to build solidarity across racial divisions, powerful forces seek advantage in tearing us farther apart. The concentrated focus of Undocumented Fears helps us understand not only why this occurs but also how we might help replace fear with friendship, social division with a sense of shared humanity."—Ian F. Haney López

The Illegal Immigration Relief Act (IIRA), passed in the small Rustbelt city of Hazleton, Pennsylvania in 2006, was a local ordinance that laid out penalties for renting to or hiring undocumented immigrants and declared English the city's official language. The notorious IIRA gained national prominence and kicked off a parade of local and state-level legislative initiatives designed to crack down on undocumented immigrants.  

In his cogent and timely book, Undocumented Fears, Jamie Longazel uses the debate around Hazleton's controversial ordinance as a case study that reveals the mechanics of contemporary divide and conquer politics. He shows how neoliberal ideology, misconceptions about Latina/o immigrants, and nostalgic imagery of "Small Town, America" led to a racialized account of an undocumented immigrant "invasion," masking the real story of a city beset by large-scale loss of manufacturing jobs. 

Offering an up-close look at how the local debate unfolded in the city that set off this broader trend, Undocumented Fears makes an important connection between immigration politics and the perpetuation of racial and economic inequality.

Jamie Longazel is Assistant Professor of Sociology and a Human Rights Center Research Fellow at the University of Dayton and co-author (with Benjamin Fleury-Steiner) of The Pains of Mass Imprisonment.

More upcoming events

@ Red Emma's

Join us for our annual holiday card writing event plus the Certain Days 2019 Calendar launch party! We’ll be sending dozens of holiday cards and birthday cards to political prisoners in time for the end of the year – a time of year that can be particularly lonely for those on the inside. Please join us to send some love through the walls. 

The 2013 Lac-Mégantic crude oil train disaster killed 47 people and destroyed a entire Quebec town: this new book uncovers new details about what happened, how it happened, who was responsible, and why it can happen again.

Crude-by-rail traffic is an urgent issue at the intersection of climate change, workers rights, and public safety and it's been a big topic of debate in Baltimore for years. Earlier this year, the City Council passed a bill banning new crude oil terminals in the city, but crude oil trains continue to pose a danger to the city, particularly as we see the repeated failures of our infrastructure such as the most recent 26th St collapse

Co-sponsored by CCAN, Railroad Workers United, and Clean Water Action


Join us for a talk by Bernardo Vigil, worker-owner at Baltimore Bicycle Works, for a talk about his research into workplace democracy in Barcelona, exploring the strategies  small and mid-sized worker co-ops are using to build meaningful pathways toward self-management, participation, and cooperative leadership development.

Talk at 7pm, with a special co-op happy hour hosted by the Baltimore Roundtable for Economic Democracy—the nonextractive local loan fund run by worker co-ops, for worker co-ops—at 5PM.

The Amphitheater of the Dead is a lightly science-fictionalized memoir by the French thinker Guy Hocquenghem, written in the last months of his life with the intention of prolonging it. “Writing saves,” he writes. “Each time that I started work on a book, I knew I would get to the end. That’s the challenge that I launch with this one, one more time.” From May to the end of June 1988, Hocquenghem worked on this last book, writing in pen from his bed until complications from AIDS developed into paralysis and “his hand no longer responded to commands from his brain,” as his comrade Roland Surzur writes in the preface. He did not get to the end.


Set in 2018, the novel dramatizes the task of living with death, imagining a future of chronic deferral remarkable for depictions of AIDS at the time. The mild futurism (in thirty years, not much has visibly changed beyond bioluminescent houseplants) primarily functions as a way for Hocquenghem to reflect on his midcentury life, though reading it in the actual 2018 brings out surprising juxtapositions and resonances with the present. Hocquenghem’s personal trajectory was singular at the time: he forged a new way of relating to homosexuality in France through his thought, writing and political activity, but in retrospect he feels shockingly familiar. We can see now how the course of his life formed the template for many contemporary queer lives.


Guy Hocquenghem's first book Le Désir homosexuel appeared in 1972, and he produced journalism, films, magazines, and novels until his death in August of 1988. He is considered one of the forebears of queer theory.


Max Fox is a writer and translator, an editor of the New Inquiry, and a founding editor of Pinko Magazine. He lives in Philadelphia.

@ Red Emma's

A special event with contributors:

Co-sponsored by the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS)

From well-known intellectuals such as Frederick Douglass and Nella Larsen to often-obscured thinkers such as Amina Baraka and Bernardo Ruiz Suárez, black theorists across the globe have engaged in sustained efforts to create insurgent and resilient forms of thought. New Perspectives on the Black Intellectual Tradition is a collection of twelve essays that explores these and other theorists and their contributions to diverse strains of political, social, and cultural thought. 

The book examines four central themes within the black intellectual tradition: black internationalism, religion and spirituality, racial politics and struggles for social justice, and black radicalism. The essays identify the emergence of black thought within multiple communities internationally, analyze how black thinkers shaped and were shaped by the historical moment in which they lived, interrogate the ways in which activists and intellectuals connected their theoretical frameworks across time and space, and assess how these strains of thought bolstered black consciousness and resistance worldwide. 

Defying traditional temporal and geographical boundaries, New Perspectives on the Black Intellectual Tradition illuminates the origins of and conduits for black ideas, redefines the relationship between black thought and social action, and challenges long-held assumptions about black perspectives on religion, race, and radicalism. The intellectuals profiled in the volume reshape and redefine the contours and boundaries of black thought, further illuminating the depth and diversity of the black intellectual tradition.