On the Legibility of Immigration Today

Mitchum Huehls, Alexandra Perisic, Claudia Sadowski-Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Claudia Sadowski-Smith's The New Immigrant Whiteness: Race, Neoliberalism, and Post-Soviet Migration to the United States (2018) and Alexandra Perisic's Precarious Crossings: Immigration, Neoliberalism, and the Atlantic (2019) present unique challenges to contemporary immigration discourse. Focusing on post-Soviet immigrants to the US, Sadowski-Smith explores the complicated role that whiteness plays for immigrants who look white but suffer similar economic precarity and material deprivation as non-white immigrants. Sadowski-Smith's work complicates our understanding of white privilege and makes the specific precarities of the post-Soviet immigrant newly legible. The immigrants in Perisic's study aren't white, but she provocatively suggests that their racial, ethnic, and national specificity should not be the primary lens for understanding their immigrant experience. Instead, challenging the tendency to read contemporary immigration through the racialized, postcolonial logic of the Black Atlantic, Perisic emphasizes global neoliberalism and economic precarity as defining features of contemporary immigrant experience. Whereas Sadowski-Smith seeks to make post-Soviet immigrants legible to contemporary immigration discourse, Perisic observes the many ways that immigrants today strategically lean into and embrace precarity, effectively making themselves illegible and inassimilable to liberal values. Taken together, these two monographs advance our thinking about immigration in challenging and provocative ways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1067-1075
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Literary History
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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