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Ellis Island Snow Globeby Erica Rand
Synopses & Reviews
In The Ellis Island Snow Globe, Erica Rand, author of the smart and entertaining book Barbieandrsquo;s Queer Accessories, takes readers on an unconventional tour of Ellis Island, the migration station turned heritage museum, and its neighbor, the Statue of Liberty. By pausing to reflect on what is and is not on display at these two iconic national monuments, Rand focuses attention on whose heritage is honored and whose obscured. She also reveals the shifting connections between sex, money, material products, and ideas of the nation in everything from the ostensible father-mother-child configuration on an Ellis Island golf ball purchased at the gift shop to the multi-million dollar July 4, 1986 Liberty Weekend extravaganza celebrating the Statueandrsquo;s centennial just days after the Supreme Courtandrsquo;s un-Libertylike decision upholding the antisodomy laws challenged in Bowers v. Hardwick.
Rand notes that portrayals of the Statue of Liberty as a beacon for immigrants tend to suppress the Statueandrsquo;s connections to people brought to this country by force. She examines what happened to migrants at Ellis Island whose bodies did not match the gender suggested by the clothing they wore. In light of contemporary ideas about safety and security, she examines the andldquo;Decide an Immigrantandrsquo;s Fateandrdquo; program, which has visitors to Ellis Island act as a 1910 board of inspectors hearing the appeal of an immigrant about to be excluded from the country. Rand is a witty, insightful, and open-minded tour guide, able to synthesize numerous diverse ideasandmdash;about tourism, immigration history, sexuality, race, ethnicity, commodity culture, and global capitalismandmdash;and to candidly convey her delight in her Ellis Island snow globe. And pen. And lighter. And back scratcher. And golf ball. And glittery pink key chain.
A study of the Ellis Island museum, its gift shop, and the Statue of Liberty form the basis of reflections on sex, nation, and immigration.
About the Author
“The Ellis Island Snow Globe is a wonderfully creative, playful, and serious piece of scholarship. Demonstrating that pleasure and critique need not be incompatible, Erica Rand offers not only a model for thinking about contemporary capitalism but a way to live in it.”—Miranda Joseph, author of Against the Romance of Community
“The Ellis Island Snow Globe is quite simply a great book. Destined to become a classic in contemporary cultural studies, it is one of the few books I’ve read in the last year or so that has taught me something new on every page.”—Henry Jenkins, coeditor of Hop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasures of Popular Culture
“Much as she did in her earlier book, Barbie’s Queer Accessories, Erica Rand turns a kitsch artifact of consumer culture into a powerful tool for cultural analysis. In this insightful and engaging new work, she transforms an Ellis Island snow globe into a window through which we see how state control of borders and migrations structures sexuality, gender, desire, and family in unexpected ways. One of the best cultural studies books I’ve read in a long time.”—Susan Stryker, producer and codirector of Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria
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