Podcasts on migration, asylum and border crossing

The following are a selection of podcasts that help understand migrant issues, asylum seeking and border crossing. Some look at the macro and others consider individual stories.


Immigration and Asylum

Bureaucratic war cracking down on immigration and asylum seekers to the US “Let Me Count the Ways”, This American Life, 14 September 2018, https://www.thisamericanlife.org/656/let-me-count-the-ways

A case study of a poultry town, precarious employment, and migration: “Our Town the Economists Report”, This American Life, 8December 2017, https://www.thisamericanlife.org/extras/our-town-the-economists-report

How it is complex to expel individuals: “Send in the Gowns”,This American Life, 19 January 2018, https://www.thisamericanlife.org/636/i-thought-it-would-be-easier/act-one-2

How an image of Spanish-African border in Melilla was used by Trump: “Melilla, Mexico and Trump”, This American Life, 21 March 2018,  https://www.thisamericanlife.org/extras/melilla-mexico-and-trump

*The high price of PTSD: “A la distancia”, Radio Ambulante, 28 November 2011, http://radioambulante.org/audio/a-la-distancia

Crossing the Guatemalan-Mexican border and the awareness of the nature of privileged border-crossing: “El vacío”, Radio Ambulante, 10 January 2017, http://radioambulante.org/audio/el-vacio

The challenge of border crossing: “The Port of Entry”, Latino USA, 31 July 2018, https://latinousa.org/2018/07/31/theportofentry/


Child migration and separation of children from their parents

Valeria Luiselli “The Questionnaire”, This American Life, 6 October 2017, https://www.thisamericanlife.org/627/suitable-for-children/act-three

*Numbers of child migrants in detention and their consequences: “Tolerancia cero”, Radio Ambulante, 22 June 2018 http://radioambulante.org/audio/tolerancia-cero

Family separation: “Torn Apart I: Sign Here”, Latino USA, 14 August 2018, https://latinousa.org/2018/08/14/tornapart1signhere/

Parents trying to stay as close as possible to their children: “We Keep the Walls Between Us as We Go”, This American Life, 16 March 2018, https://www.thisamericanlife.org/641/the-walls/act-two-10

*Why young people are leaving Honduras: “No es país para jovenes”, Radio Ambulante, 27 February 2018, http://radioambulante.org/audio/no-es-pais-para-jovenes

Parents trying to find out the truth of their children’s disappearance in Long Island. It considers the way young people get caught up in violence committed by the MS13 gang and the consequence if “under- and over-policing Latinos” : “The Runaways”, This American Life, 21 September 2018, https://www.thisamericanlife.org/657/the-runaways 



*The dangers of being a journalist in Mexico: “Fue el estado”, Radio Ambulante, 23 January 2018, http://radioambulante.org/audio/fue-el-estado


*Poppy farming and its consequences on those who live among it: “Flor del diablo”, Radio Ambulante, 7 March 2017, http://radioambulante.org/audio/la-flor-del-diablo


*Programmes by Radio Ambulante have transcripts in Spanish, some also have transcripts in English.

YouTube as Archive: Fans, Gender and Mexican Film Stars Online

I am doing the final edits of a chapter, “YouTube as Archive: Fans, Gender and Mexican Film Stars Online” for a book entitled Revising Star Studies edited by Guy Austin and Sabrina Yu.  In the chapter I’m exploring what it means to access YouTube in order to carry out star fan studies and to gain an understanding of the the star text. Previously, I published on the Mexican film stars, María Félix and Dolores del Rio. This time I’m considering three of their male contemporaries, Pedro Infante, Jorge Negrete and Emilio Fernández. My decision to do this was in response to the call for papers for the conference Guy and Sabrina organised in the University of Newcastle, because I have spent some time trying to work through the differences and this was the perfect opportunity to do this and build on my earlier work. I was curious to see whether there were points of comparisons between Félix and del Rio and Infante, Negrete and Fernández. What I found can be read in the chapter after it is published. But, here I wanted to share some of the vids I looked and why they are worth reflecting on in an academic context.

Whilst with Félix and del Rio, the fans altered original content and thereby created original vids that resulted in fascinating readings of the star text. Click on their names for two examples that I discussed in the earlier article, and then follow the links that will inevitably come up when you do that. In contrast, the fans of the male stars were more interested in the following types of vids:

Songs/Musical numbers

Infante and Negrete both released multiple records as well as appearing in many musicals, therefore a large number privilege music over visual mash-ups. These two which blend songs accompanied by simple slideshow style images by El Yeusy “Pedro Infante y Jorge Negrete_Coplas_Couplets” and Juan Pablo Rosas García “pedro infante y jorge negrete super mix”, and this extract from a comedia ranchera, Nain DeLaCruz “Pedro Infante & Jorge Negrete – Dos tipos de cuidado” are common examples.


Creative aestheticised pieces are rare, but here is a good example by the experimental filmmaker, Gérard Courant, “Emilio Fernandez by Gérard Courant – Cinématon #187”. Here is an amateur version by MoviePosterMM “Emilio Fernández”, which is a compilation of all of available posters from films starring Fernández accompanied by music from The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969).

Star deaths and funerals

Here’s one of Pedro Infante’s death, omrobleto 1 “Muerte de Pedro Infante”. Pedro Infante: Pedro Infante (2009) “Pedro Infante”. Although, some Infante fans claim that he did not die in the 1950s, but lived on and provide video ‘proof’, Cuco Leyva Channel has a whole channel dedicated to this.


There are a number of visits to houses where the stars have lived. These are either official tours or amateur tourist home movies. For examples of amateur films: Akshairg (2007) “casa de Pedro Infante”, EstacionesMusicales (2011) “GUANAJUATO PLACA Y CASA DE JORGE NEGRETE 26 NOVIEMBRE”, and professional films, IMCINE n.d. “Casa Fortaleza de Emilio “El Indio” Fernández”.


Interviews are popular. These can be from footage drawn from television, documentaries or radio. Sometimes they are slightly altered with musical accompaniments, but rarely are the visuals changed. Examples include, edward fuente (2014) “EMILIO ‘INDIO’ FERNANDEZ entrevistado por Joaquín Soler Serrano 2 de 2” and another of Fernández when he was in jail for murder, Perez Verduzco, Guillermo “ENTREVISTA AL INDIO FERNANDEZ EN LA CARCEL POR GUILLERMO PEREZ VERDUZCO”, with his daughter, Adela, Canal de laverdadentiemporeal “ENTREVISTA A ADELA FERNÁNDEZ, HIJA DE EMILIO ‘EL INDIO’ FERNÁNDEZ. Parte II”, and a television interview with Pedro Infante, Pedro Infante (2009) “Pedro Infante”.

For me, this has great potential has an emerging area of study that has potential for fascinating inter-disciplinary and transnational discussions.

Frida Kahlo and Her Prosthetic Aids

In collaboration with Prof Claire Taylor, University of Liverpool, I wrote ‘“I am my own muse, I am the subject I know best” – Frida Kahlo’ on the significance of prosthetic limbs, illness, props, selfhood, politics and art for the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. This was a contribution to the Life and Limbs blog page and thinking around the exhibition “which highlights the heroism and brutality of battlefield operations and the challenges of caring for the wounded during wartime” and in its aftermath.

Gardens, twungles and e-forests

March 29th, 2010 Margaret Atwood wrote about twitter as populated by helpful fairies on the bottom of her garden eager to scold, encourage and correct her (http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2010/mar/29/atwood-in-the-twittersphere/),  now it has become a twungle/e-forest with rotating skulls pushing her towards political activism: http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/mar/12/deeper-twungle-atwood-twitter/. It’s a great trajectory to read.  I have quoted Atwood in my forthcoming article on the use of social media by Chicana and Mexican writers,“Fairies at the Bottom of the Garden: Writers Crossing Digital Borders”, in the Forum for Inter-American Research, http://interamerica.de/

Given my interest in this area, Niamh McNamara’s posted this recent assessment of the use of social media by Latinos on her Facebook [page, see: http://univisionnews.tumblr.com/post/12645026033/latinos-dominate-twitter-and-facebook.  This is an up-beat assessment and one that merits further reflection.  In my paper I did find that there is a digital divide, but one that falls along class/education lines more than race.  Of course, even if you are a privileged writer living in Mexico City, its sometimes unreliable electrical system can fail your ability to access rapid communication tools.  This was the case when I tried to interview one of  the authors in my study and there was a power failure.  However, we did manage to connect through conventional phone lines in the end.  The television netword reporting this is own by Hallmark and the Mexican broadcasting giant Televisa, and has become the largest broadcaster to Spanish-language speakers in the US.  Therefore their assessment is part of a pitch at promoting themselves as key players in this marketplace and showing how connected their viewership is.  The figures given:

“According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 18% of Latinos that use the internet have accounts on Twitter, compared to only 5% of white non-Latinos, and 13% of African American non-Latinos. On Facebook the same thing holds true, with 54.2% of Latino internet users on Facebook, followed by 47.7% of white non-Latinos and 43% of African Americans non-Latinos.”

speaks to a rising number of Latinos using social networking sites compared to other US minority groups, and while their presence on Facebook is significant they have a long way to go on Twitter.  It’ll be interesting to monitor the growth in future years.   Whilst the article’s heading might be that “Latinos dominate Twitter and Facebook”, the detail reveals that it is compared to other minorities and is seen as an “emerging market”, it is still one that has some way to go.

The discourse of the free

I find open source information and crowd sourcing knowledge compelling ideas.  They make knowledge a public good and can have the benefit of being non-hierarchical.  The theory is that we all can share, contribute and learn, which is great.  The enthusiasm with which the sharing of such knowledge is often discussed can be infectious.  I have just read through the bios of 12 “Tech Innovators” in the The Chronicle of Higher Education.  The innovations include: using mobile phones for classroom learning; employing cloud computing to upgrade software; getting the online community too peer review manuscripts; making technology more accessible and cheaper through mass negotiations; and so on.  All highly laudable achievements that required imagination, innovation and risk.  The Chronicle, while celebrating their innovations, does address some of the shortfalls of these or looks at how some may have started as free and open-accesss and then became commercialised.  The Chronicle‘s focus isn’t on their economics, but rather a celebration of innovations and new ideas. 

For me, I think it’s the can-do attitude that is infectious, compelling, yet has me somewhat wary.  My concern is not with the work that many of these people are doing, which I largely celebrate, in particular those by fellow Humanists Kathleen Fitzpatrick and Daniel J. Cohen, but with the language that often is used to discuss their work and the discourse of the marketplace that often surrounds them. 

My reservations share some ground with those of Nathan Jurgenson in his blog post “Against Ted”.  Whilst, I don’t agree with all that he says, I want to repeat his question here, “Where is there space to reach larger publics without having to take on the role of a salesperson, preacher, or self-help guru?”.  Can we find a new language to talk about and celebrate these gains?  Where is the crowd and the non-hierarchical thinking when we still operate within structures that require us to commemorate singularity and individual prowess?