Nonfiction


Dear Armen

How the story of a little-known dancer has inspired a new generation of Armenian artists

This interview and essay on a documentary project about the enigmatic performance artist Armen Ohanian elucidates the rich but cryptic history of a famous dancer of the early twentieth century. By playing on, challenging and ultimately subverting stereotypes of "the Orient" and the gendered cultural vernacular they entail, Armen--whose story has undergone something of a revival lately led by progressive contemporary artists--bestowed dramatic new forms of expression on a global audience.

The Migrant Bard

Exile in Shakespeare's time
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​All the world might have been a stage to him, but Shakespeare's globe was also fraught with borders. Centuries ago, the bard who channeled the voice of the exile was moved to air a defense of the refugee. A new exhibition at the British library has revealed a previously undiscovered 400 year-old script, apparently penned by the playwright himself, for a unique group-authored play, The Booke of Sir Thomas Moore.

Matt Huynh Inks Stories of an Inherited War

A graphic novelist wades into today's refugee debate
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Matt Huynh has a way of drawing outside the lines, having crossed many of them over the course of his life. As an artist who regularly intertwines his graphic work with poetic and fictive narratives, he has inked everything from fashion magazine spreads to the cover of the short-lived Occupied Wall Street Journal. But one of his most ambitious works explores borders within, through the collective memory of Australia’s Vietnamese diaspora.

Wherefore Asian America?

Introduction to "Serve the People"

 

The following is an excerpt from the introduction of Serve the People: Making Asian America in the Long Sixties, a groundbreaking new history of the Asian American movement by Karen L. Ishizuka (Verso, 2016).

 

Wherefore Asian America?

Discovery cannot be purely intellectual but must also involve action; nor can it be limited to mere activism, but must include serious reflection.

It's a Dirty Job, but There's an App for That

New York's Day Laborers Build a Network for Justice
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From putting up dry wall to cleaning out storm debris, the day laborers of New York do some of the city's roughest, dirtiest jobs, and often work for dirt cheap, sometimes for nothing at all. Their highly marginal jobs and lack of stable employment makes them extremely vulnerable to getting cheated, and since many work informally, do not have papers, or suffer from languge barriers, they typically have little legal recourse. But even the hardest manual labor can benefit from digital innovation.

Across Two Continents, the Myth of Border Security

Refugees Adrift Between Strange Shores
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Around the world, the US has established the high water mark for border policing. Just ask the authorities on the Turkish Syrian border:

The governor of Kilis, Suleyman Tapsiz, points out Turkey has also been under pressure from the United States and others to tighten the border, and stop jihadists getting into Syria.

Calling Ourselves

Ancestral Inheritance, in Translation
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At our family Thanksgivings, where we serve Persian polo khoresht alongside turkey and mashed potatoes, my cousins give one another “American” names. We don’t evoke mythical men and women of the past. We do not think of saints or of ancient Gods. Our emphasis is on the pedestrian. So a Mahmanzar turns into a somewhat ironic Mary Jo and a Cyrus turns into a rather ordinary George. We make fun of our own banality, underscoring that we are not what we sound like, nor what we should look like.

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A Message from Favianna Rodriguez

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