By Ruth Behar | When I called myself a vulnerable observer twenty-five years ago, most other scholars looked at me askance. The word “vulnerable” wasn’t on everyone’s lips then, so it always took a moment for colleagues to realize that it could be used in a positive way as something to be embraced rather than avoided at all costs. But since the 1990s, the word “vulnerable” has gone through a boom in the English language. We hear the word daily, referring to people, the environment, the planet.
Talk about an affront to human life. In a bait-and-switch tactic to push the Right’s anti-immigrant message, FL Governor Ron DeSantis paid to send 50 migrants like cattle on an airplane from San Antonio, TX, to Martha’s Vineyard, MA. The migrants were told they’d land in Boston, where they could get expedited work papers. On top of that, hundreds of thousands of people across Puerto Rico are waiting for water and power to be restored after Hurricane Fiona knocked out power lines and collapsed infrastructure with massive flooding. A rough way for Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month to start.
We did it! We made it to the finish line of another plague year! Just a few more weeks left. Even though it’s not New Year’s Eve yet, uncork some bubbly to celebrate. We earned it. Our big wish for the new year: no more COVID variants. Delta, Mu, Omicron . . . Worst. Upgrades. Ever. Before we slam the door on 2021, we need to applaud and thank our authors and staff for the blog posts they wrote for the Broadside.
A Q&A with Ruth Behar | So much has changed in the last twenty-five years that sometimes we forget how different were the paradigms we worked with before. Anthropologists were taught that they had to approach their research from a distance. This meant silencing the story of your entanglement with a specific set of people, in a specific place, in a specific moment in time, and how knowledge gets produced in this messy, haunting, unrepeatable process.
By Ruth Behar | If I had to choose one aspect of my life that had the greatest impact on me as a thinker and a writer, it would be that I was born a Jew in Cuba. And after that, it would be that I came to the United States as an immigrant child, carrying this doubled sense of identity which would eventually be articulated in an American context in the English language, but always with a longing for the native Spanish that was spoken in my family. As a girl and a young woman growing up in New York, I struggled to find a way to give voice to the experience of being a Cuban immigrant, while always yearning to know the island that my family remembered nostalgically, but to which I was told we would never again return to live.
By Ruth BeharLike all children of Cuban exiles who came to the United States in the early 1960s, I heard the name “Fidel Castro” constantly. He was the sole person responsible for the sorrow of my parents and grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who lost their beloved home in Cuba. As Cuban Jews, the wound came atop another wound. My grandparents, Jews from Poland and Turkey, were double refugees—they fled Europe on the eve of the Holocaust, finding refuge in a tropical island of rumba and sugarcane where everyone called each other “mi corazón” and anti-Semitism didn’t exist.
By Ruth Behar This blog appeared originally on Bridges to/from Cuba. For years Richard Blanco and I had talked about traveling to Cuba together. Finally the time seemed right. On June 13th, we met up at the airport in Miami....
In 1983, a chance encounter connected young anthropologist Ruth Behar to a Mexican street peddler named Esperanza Hernandez in ways that would resonate throughout the years, and would continue to live on after Esperanza’s death in 2014.