Bookmarks Winter 2020

The 9 Pitfalls of Data ScienceThe 9 Pitfalls of Data Science

Fletcher Jones Professor of Economics Gary Smith and co-author Jay Cordes ’93 tell cautionary tales of data science successes and failures, showing readers how to distinguish between good data science and nonsense.

Living the California Dream: African American Leisure Sites During the Jim Crow EraLiving the California Dream: African American Leisure Sites During the Jim Crow Era

Alison Rose Jefferson ’80 explores how during the Jim Crow era in Southern California, a growing population of African Americans pioneered America’s “frontier of leisure” and worked to make recreational sites and public spaces open and inclusive.

Heartthrob del Balboa Café al Apartheid and BackHeartthrob
del Balboa Café al Apartheid and Back

Professor of Romance Languages and Literature Susana Chávez-Silverman has penned a memoir that is a love story woven together in both English and Spanish, traversing from San Francisco to South Africa and asking us to consider how things could have been.

Donuts Are Meant to be EatenDonuts Are Meant to be Eaten

Alex Cook ’82 introduces the Barton clan in this first of a family dramedy series that covers a range of experiences: from what it feels like to be an adolescent male in the late ’70s in the South to offering insight into the life of a disillusioned wife and mother in a post tech revolution world.

Dreaming of Arches National ParkDreaming of Arches National Park

This children’s book co-written and photographed by Grant Collier ’96 and set in Arches National Park, is a story of the adventures of Cayenne, a coyote that doesn’t like to sleep.

A Knowledge Representation Practionary: Guidelines Based on Charles Sanders PeirceA Knowledge Representation Practionary: Guidelines Based on Charles Sanders Peirce

Mike Bergman ’74, web scientist and entrepreneur for a series of internet companies, writes of his experience in installing semantic technology and artificial intelligence projects for enterprise customers over many years.

Chasing GodsChasing Gods

This novel by Willard Berry ’61 is a chronicle of the calamitous life of his third great-grandfather, who lived from 1788-1852. Berry came across this ancestor’s strange life while doing genealogical research.

US Democracy Promotion in the Arab World: Beyond Interests vs. IdealsUS Democracy Promotion in the Arab World: Beyond Interests vs. Ideals

Mieczysław (Mietek) Boduszyński, professor of politics and international relations and former U.S. diplomat goes beyond the question of whether the U.S. should promote democracy in the Arab world and pushes further to examine the why, where and how.


If you’ve had a book published and would like to submit it for inclusion in Bookmarks, please send a review copy to Sneha Abraham, PCM Book Editor, 550 North College Ave., Claremont, CA 91711

Bookmarks Fall 2019

Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and ObsessionsSavage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsessions

Rachel Monroe ’06, hailed as one of the “queens of nonfiction,” by New York Magazine, pens the stories of four women’s obsession with true crime and explores our collective morbid fascination.

Frost Fair DanceFrost Fair Dance

Dancer and poet Celestine Woo ’89 offers a book of poems that, as one editor praised, “glide across the page” —an apt description as Woo uses modern dance and movement as themes throughout her work.

Best Practices in Educational TherapyBest Practices in Educational Therapy

Ann Parkinson Kaganoff ’58, a board-certified educational therapist and educator for six decades, offers strategies and solutions for novice and veteran educational therapists alike.

Doing Supportive PsychotherapyDoing Supportive Psychotherapy

John Battaglia ’80, professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin, has written a guide for learners and professionals alike on how to forge meaningful, impactful therapeutic relationships with patients.

One Small SunOne Small Sun

The poetry of Paulann Petersen ’64 takes readers from Oregon to India, taps into memory and tells the tales of an aging woman’s life.

The Road Through San JudasThe Road Through San Judas

The inspiration for this novel by Robert Fraga ’61 came from his time as a volunteer in Northern Mexico, where he learned of the conflict between landless Mexican farmers and a wealthy Juárez family who wanted their land.

Can’t Stop Falling: A Caregiver’s Love StoryCan’t Stop Falling: A Caregiver’s Love Story

In a memoir written to inspire people helping loved ones who are suffering, W C Stephenson ’61 tells the story of his wife’s rare neurological disease and his role as her caregiver.

Forty Years a ForesterForty Years a Forester

Professor of Environmental Analysis Char Miller edited an annotated edition of the memoir of Elers Koch, a key figure in the early days of the U.S. Forest Service with a major role in building relationships and policies that made the bureau the most respected in the federal government.

Bookmarks Spring/Summer 2019

Collisions at the Crossroads: How Place and Mobility Make RaceCollisions at the Crossroads:
How Place and Mobility Make Race

Genevieve Carpio ’05, assistant professor of Chicana and Chicano studies at UCLA, examines policies and forces restricting free movement—from bicycle ordinances to incarceration—and how they constructed racial hierarchies in Los Angeles and the Inland Empire.

Luxury, Blue LaceLuxury, Blue Lace

S. Brook Corfman ’13 offers poetry exploring the overlapping personalities that can be found in one person. His poems earned him a starred Publishers Weekly review, praising it as “a work of rare beauty and thoughtfulness.”

More Than Birding: Observations from Antarctica, Madagascar, and BhutanMore Than Birding:
Observations from Antarctica, Madagascar, and Bhutan

In this travel memoir, Harriet Denison ’65 shares her adventures in birding, animal encounters and cultural experiences in breathtaking locations on three continents.

Learning to Be a Foreigner: Field Notes from SichuanLearning to Be a Foreigner:
Field Notes from Sichuan

In this novel, Nancy E. Dollahite ’64 tells a love story between a woman and a country and a woman and a man, based on her experience living in China in the 980s.

Buzz Stories at Thirty Thousand FeetBuzz Stories at Thirty Thousand Feet

David Price ’71, son of the late Harrison “Buzz” Price, writes about his father, best known for determining by mathema­tical formulas where to build Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

The Also-Rans: One Step Short of the PresidencyThe Also-Rans:
One Step Short of the Presidency

David P. Green ’58 profiles and examines the candidates who didn’t make it to the White House, from Republican Wendell Willkie in 1940 to Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The Philosophical Baroque: On Autopoietic ModernitiesThe Philosophical Baroque:
On Autopoietic Modernities

Erik S. Roraback ’89, who teaches critical theory, international cinema and U.S. literature at Charles University, reframes modernity as a multicentury baroque, as part of the Literary Modernism book series.

The Nature of Hope: Grassroots Organizing, Environ­mental Justice, and Political ChangeThe Nature of Hope:
Grassroots Organizing, Environ­mental Justice, and Political Change

Professor of Environmental Analysis Char Miller is the co-editor of this collection of essays exploring how ordinary citizens have come together to organize action for environmental justice.

Bookmarks Winter 2019

The Blue Wave Starts with MeThe Blue Wave Starts with Me:
A Volunteer’s Guide to Getting Out the Vote for Democrats
Ron Boyer ’76 penned a book for people asking themselves, What can I do to help elect Democrats?







Business ChemistryBusiness Chemistry:
Practical Magic for Crafting
Powerful Work Relationships
Kim Christfort ’96 and Suzanne Vickberg offer a guide to putting cognitive diversity to work.







Dark KnowledgeDark Knowledge
In his historical novel, Clifford Browder ’50 writes about a young man in New York in the late 1860s investigating the illegal pre–Civil War slave trade.








Sea ChangeSea Change:
The Unfinished Agenda of the 1960s
Dorothy May Emerson ’65 pens personal stories about a young life lived on the edge of hope, change and possibility in California in the 1960s.







Searching for My HeartSearching for My Heart:
Essays About Love
This book by Dawn Downey ’73 contains stories with themes of alienation, shame and the self-awareness that leads to love.








No Hard FeelingsNo Hard Feelings
Emotions at Work (and How They Help Us Succeed)
Liz Fosslien ’09 and Mollie West Duffy take a look at emotions in the workplace and how to navigate them.








Summary ExecutionSummary Execution:
The Seattle Assassinations of Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes
Michael Withey ’68, P’91 tells a true story that could be a crime thriller: a double murder replete with assassins, FBI informants, murdered witnesses and a foreign dictator.







The Power of the ImpossibleThe Power of the Impossible:
On Community and the Creative Life
Erik S. Roraback ’89 surveys cultural figures and icons like Spinoza and Ivan Ledi and examines global community formation and creativity.







Walking in American Literature
Amy T. Hamilton ’98 explores physical bodies and movement in American stories and history.








Sara When She ChoosesSara When She Chooses
Deedra Cooper ’76, who writes under the name Cat Jenkins, takes the fictional character Sara on a trip to her grandmother’s house—a primitive home that she hates to visit.








The American Road Trip and AmericanThe American Road Trip and American
Political Thought
Professor of Politics Susan McWilliams Barndt shows how Americans have long used road trips not only as escapism but also as a vehicle to explore questions about American politics.







San AntonioSan Antonio:
A Tricentennial History
W.M. Keck Professor of Environmental Analysis and History Char Miller has written the first general history of San Antonio, Texas, the nation’s seventh-largest city and one shaped by environmental, social, political and cultural pressures.

Bookmarks Summer/Fall 2018

Presenting for HumansPresenting for Humans

Insights for Speakers on Ditching Perfection and Creating Connection

Lisa Braithwaite ’87 challenges preconceived notions about public speaking and guides the creation of meaningful and memorable presentations.

Fascinating New YorkersFascinating New Yorkers

Power Freaks, Mobsters, Liberated Women, Creators, Queers and Crazies

Clifford Browder ’50 profiles the famous and forgotten, from J.P. Morgan’s nose to a pioneer in female erotica.


In this mystery/thriller /love story by Betty Jean Craige ’68, a university president is held hostage when a dangerous ideologue tries to eradicate the school’s genetics institute.

Everyday CreaturesEveryday Creatures

A Naturalist on the Surprising Beauty of Ordinary Life in Wild Places

George James Kenagy ’67 offers13 personal essays on nature, gleaned from observations, discoveries and experiences of deserts, mountains, forests and the sea.

Come West and SeeCome West and See

This debut collection of short stories by Maxim Loskutoff ’07 describes a violent separatist movement, with tales of love and heartbreak.


The Atlantis Grail (Book Three)

In this fantasy novel by Vera Nazarian ’88, nerdy Gwen Lark must fight her way through a difficult contest as the fate of two worlds, Earth and Atlantis, hangs in the balance.

The Big NoteThe Big Note

A Guide to the Recordings of Frank Zappa

Charles Ulrich ’79 offers a guide to Frank Zappa’s music composed from hundreds of interviews, letters and email correspondences spanning 35 years.


New and Selected Stories of the American West

Miles Wilson ’66 offers a collection of short stories set in the American West—geographically, culturally and psychologically—ranging from fable to realism and ranchers to fathers.

Latin America in the Era of the Cuban Revolution Latin America in the Era of the Cuban Revolution

Thomas C. Wright ’63 offers an interpretation of the Cuban Revolution era, synthesizing its trends, phases, impact and influence on Latin America.

Understanding NanomaterialsUnderstanding Nanomaterials

Professor of Chemistry Malkiat Johal and his former student, Lewis Johnson ’07, co-wrote this second-edition textbook, providing a comprehensive introduction to the field of nanomaterials as well as an easy read.

The AI DelusionThe AI Delusion

Fletcher Jones Professor of Economics Gary Smith argues that our faith in artificial intelligence is misplaced and makes the case for human judgment.

Bookmarks Spring 2018

Permission to Die Candid Conversations About Death and DyingPermission to Die
Candid Conversations About Death and Dying

Rabbi Anthony Fratello ’94 teamed with a neurologist, a psychotherapist and a physician to empower readers to think about death and dying.





Spiritual Citizenship Transnational Pathways from Black Power to Ifá in TrinidadSpiritual Citizenship
Transnational Pathways from Black Power to Ifá in Trinidad

Nicole Fadeke Castor ’89 explores the role of Ifá/Orisha religious practices in shaping local, national and transnational belonging in African diasporic communities.





My Pomona CollegeMy Pomona College

Emeritus Professor of Economics James D. Likens offers a memoir of 47 years on the faculty of Pomona College, stretching from the turbulent ’60s to the new millennium.







Indecorous Thinking Figures of Speech in Early Modern PoeticsIndecorous Thinking
Figures of Speech in Early Modern Poetics

Professor of English Colleen Rosenfeld examines the use of figures of speech by such poets as Edmund Spenser and Mary Wroth as a means of celebrating and expanding the craft of poetry.




Bones Around My Neck The Life and Exile of a Prince ProvocateurBones Around My Neck
The Life and Exile of a Prince Provocateur

Tamara Loos ’89 examines the life of Prince Prisdang Chumsai, Siam’s first diplomat to Europe, and, through him, the complexities of global imperialism.





A Second Course in Linear AlgebraA Second Course in Linear Algebra

This new textbook by Professor of Mathematics Stephan Garcia and coauthor Roger Horn helps students transition from basic theory to advanced topics and applications.






Where There’s SmokeWhere There’s Smoke

Professor of Environmental Analysis Char Miller edited this interdisciplinary anthology on the troubling environmental consequences of illegal marijuana production on public, private and tribal lands.






The Party’s Primary Control of Congressional NominationsThe Party’s Primary
Control of Congressional Nominations

Hans J.G. Hassell ’05 explores the ways in which political parties work behind the scenes to shape the options available to voters through the primary process.





The Ballad of Huck & MiguelThe Ballad of Huck & Miguel

In a provocative tribute to Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, Tim DeRoche ’92 transports Huck to modern-day L.A., following his escape down the concrete gash of the Los Angeles River in the company of an undocumented immigrant falsely accused of murder.

Bookmarks Fall 2017

The Wolf, the Duck, and the MouseThe Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse

The author of the acclaimed children’s book Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, Mac Barnett ’04, again joins illustrator Jon Klassen for a fable with a twist and a wink—in this case, a mouse and a duck who set up housekeeping inside a wolf.


Illustrator and Caldecott honoree Aaron Becker ’96 completes his epic children’s trilogy with a third wordless journey through a hidden door into a visually stunning realm of enchanted landscapes and strange creatures.

Displaying Time: The Many Temporalities of the Festival of IndiaDisplaying Time: The Many Temporalities of the Festival of India

Rebecca M. Brown ’93 uses archival research and interviews with artists, curators, diplomats and visitors to analyze a selection of museum shows that were part of the Festival of India.

Come As You AreCome As You Are

Steven Ramirez ’74 writes a young-adult supernatural horror novella about a middle schooler and the terrifying evil forces he unleashes from the pages of an old notebook.

Roadside Geology of Southern CaliforniaRoadside Geology of Southern California

Award-winning Santa Barbara geologist Arthur G. Sylvester ’59 offers a tour of the iconic features of the Golden State, combining science and stories about its rocks and landscapes.

The Silly Parade and Other Topsy-Turvy PoemsThe Silly Parade and Other Topsy-Turvy Poems

Inspired by the book art of Nikolai Popov, Associate Professor of German and Russian Anne Dwyer translates and retells traditional Russian songs and folk poetry for children.

Real Deceptions: The Contemporary Reinvention of RealismReal Deceptions: The Contemporary Reinvention of Realism

In her third book, Pankey Professor of Media Studies Jennifer Friedlander explores a new theory of realism, examining a range of contemporary art, media and cultural practices to argue that our sense of reality lies within the deceptions themselves.

Money Machine: The Surprisingly Simple Power of Value InvestingMoney Machine: The Surprisingly Simple Power of Value Investing

Fletcher Jones Professor of Economics Gary Smith offers expert guidance on value investing to beginning investors and veterans alike, debunking current strategies and promoting what consistently outperforms the market.

Bookmarks Summer 2017

Dam WitherstonDam Witherston
A Witherston Murder Mystery

Betty Jean Craig ’68 returns to her fictional Georgia town of Witherston with a story of blackmail, sacred burial grounds and murder.

Revolution Against EmpireRevolution Against Empire
Taxes, Politics, and the Origins of American Independence

Justin du Rivage ’05 resets the story of American independence within the long, fierce clash over the political and economic future of the British Empire.

My Dark HorsesMy Dark Horses

In her first full-length poetry collection, Jodie Hollander ’68 offers highly personal poems about family, interspersed with meditations on the works of Rimbaud.

The Sensational PastThe Sensational Past
How the Enlightenment Changed the Way We Use Our Senses

Carolyn Purnell ’06 offers an insightful survey of the ways Enlightenment thinkers made sense of their world.

Military Thought in Early ChinaMilitary Thought in Early China

Christopher C. Rand ’70 provides a well-argued framework for understanding early China’s military philosophy.

Latin America Since IndependenceLatin America Since Independence
Two Centuries of Continuity and Change

Thomas C. Wright ’63 critically examines the complex colonial legacies of Latin America through 200 years of postcolonial history.

Love and Narrative Form in Toni Morrison’s Later NovelsLove and Narrative Form in Toni Morrison’s Later Novels

Jean Wyatt ’61 explores the interaction among ideas of love, narrative innovation and reader response in Morrison’s seven later novels.

Shake It UpShake It Up
Great American Writing on Rock and Pop from Elvis to Jay Z

Professors Jonathan Lethem and Kevin Dettmar, both longtime devotees and scholars of modern music, join forces as editors of a compendium of some of the nation’s all-time best writing from the world of rock and pop.

Interested in connecting with fellow Sagehen readers? Join the Pomona College Book Club at

Bookmarks Spring 2017

The Adulterous MuseThe Adulterous Muse
Maud Gonne, Lucien Millevoye and W.B. Yeats
Noted biographer Adrian Frazier ’71 explores the life of one of Ireland’s most romanticized figures, Maud Gonne, the charismatic but unfaithful inspiration for W.B. Yeats’s love poetry, who was also a leading figure in the Irish republican movement.






Daubigny, Monet, Van GoghDaubigny, Monet, Van Gogh
Impressions of Landscape
Lynne Ambrosini ’75, chief curator at the Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati, was a lead contributor to this beautifully printed book on the interrelationships between the works of these three major artists.






Candy GirlCandy Girl
How I Gave Up Sugar and Created a Sweeter Life Between Meals
In her part-memoir, part-how-to book, Jill Kelly ’68 relates how she overcame her longtime addiction to food, and in particular, to sugar.






The Absence of EvelynThe Absence of Evelyn
Jackie Townsend ’87, the award-winning author of Imperfect Pairings, returns with a haunting drama about love, loss and identity that ranges from a palazzo in Rome to northern Vietnam, as four people bound together by the various incarnations of love pursue the strands of an unraveling family secret.






Perils and Promises of TechnologyPerils and Promises of Technology
In this collection of essays, psychologist David Ruben ’69 examines his own relationship to technology and considers some of the key questions about the future of computer-age humanity.







American EnlightenmentsAmerican Enlightenments
Pursuing Happiness in the Age of Reason
In her groundbreaking new book, Caroline Winterer ’88, a professor of humanities at Stanford University, explores the national mythology surrounding the American Enlightenment, tracing the complex interconnections between America and Europe that gave it birth.






Southern California Mountain CountrySouthern California Mountain Country
Places John Muir Walked and Places He Would Have Loved to Know
Nature photographer Glenn Pascall ’64 combines his photos of California mountain landscapes with quotes from noted California naturalist John Muir.






Laryngeal Physiology for the Surgeon and Clinician Laryngeal Physiology for the Surgeon and Clinician
(Second Edition)
Surgeon Clarence Sasaki ’62 updates his classic text on the functioning of the larynx and the management of diseases that strike that complex organ.




Book Talk: Migrants in the Crossfire of Love and Law

01-crossing-the-gulf-mahdavi-bookIn her new book, Crossing the Gulf: Love and Family in Migrant Lives, Associate Professor of Anthropology Pardis Mahdavi tells heartbreaking stories about migrants and trafficked mothers and their children in the Persian Gulf and talks to state officials, looking at how bonds of love get entangled with the law. Mahdavi talked to PCM’s Sneha Abraham about her book and the questions it poses about migration and families. This interview has been edited and condensed.

PCM: Talk about the relationship between family and migration.

MAHDAVI: Our concept of family has been reconceptualized and reconfigured in and through migration. People are separated from their blood-based kin; they’re forming new kinds of fictive kinship in the labor camps or abroad. Some people migrate out of a sense of familial duty, to honor their families. Sometimes they get stuck in situations which they feel they can’t get out of because of their family and familial obligations. Other people migrate to get away from their families, to get away from the watchful eyes of their families and communities. Families are not able to necessarily migrate together, and children are not able to migrate with their parents; they’re in a more tenuous relationship now than we would recognize when we look at migrants really just as laborers.

Laws complicate those relationships. Laws on migration, citizenship and human trafficking create a category of people caught in the crossfire of policies—and those people are often women and their children, and often they are trapped in situations of illegality.

PCM: Would you tease out the question of migration versus trafficking? That is something you’re exploring in your book.

MAHDAVI: I think it’s a real tension that needs to be teased out in the larger discourse. That’s the central question. What constitutes migration? What constitutes trafficking? It’s very difficult and that space is much more gray than we think. We’ve tended to assume that women in industries like the sex industry are all trafficked. We assume if there’s a woman involved, it’s the sex industry; if it’s a minor, it is trafficking; if it’s a male, if they’re in construction work, that’s migration. But that’s just not true. Trafficking really boils down to forced fraud or coercion within migration. It’s kind of a gray area, a much larger area than we think. The utility of the word “trafficking” really is questioned in the book. How useful is that word? The very definitions of migration and human trafficking are extremely politicized and depend on who you ask and when. Some people might strategically leverage the term, whereas other people strategically dodge it.

Some interpretations have positively elevated the importance of issues that migrants face; other people might say that the framework is used to demonize migrants or further restrict their movement.

PCM: What’s an example of a policy that affects these issues of migration and trafficking?

MAHDAVI: The United States Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) is one policy, kind of a large one, to the extent that the report ranks all the countries into tiers and then makes recommendations based on their rankings. And sometimes the recommendations that the TIP report makes actually exacerbate the situation instead of making it better.

For instance, the United Arab Emirates is frequently ranked Tier 2, or Tier 2 Watchlist [countries that do not comply with minimum standards for protecting victims of trafficking but are making efforts], and the recommendation is that there should be more prosecutions and there should be more police. Now, the police in the U.A.E. are imported oftentimes, and from my interviews with migrant workers, it’s often the police who are raping sex workers and domestic workers. So you double up your cops, you double up your perpetrators of rape. So that is a policy that’s not helping anyone.

Other policies are more tethered to citizenship. They don’t have soil-based or birthright citizenship in the Gulf. Citizenship passes through the father in the U.A.E. and Kuwait. Citizenship also passes through the father in some of the sending countries, for instance, up until recently Nepal and India. So that means a domestic worker from India or Nepal, five years ago, who goes to the U.A.E., perhaps is raped by her employer or has a boyfriend and gets pregnant and has a baby, that woman is first incarcerated and then deported because as a guest worker she is contractually sterilized, and that baby is stateless because of citizenship laws that are incongruent.

There is a whole generation of people that have been born into this really problematic situation.

PCM: You write about “children of the Emir.” Who are they? 

MAHDAVI: So, “children of the Emir” is kind of the colloquial nomenclature given to a lot of the stateless children. They could be children of migrant workers, children who oftentimes were born in jail; maybe they were left in the Gulf when their mothers were deported. They may have been left there intentionally. It’s not clear, but they’re stateless children who were born in the Gulf. And some of them are growing up in orphanages; others are growing up in the palaces. There was a lot of tacit knowledge about these children and rumors that the Emir or members of the royal family are raising them. But nobody could find the kids. Nobody knew where they were or if it was actually true that they were being raised in the palaces or not. That was rumor until I conducted my research and I was able to confirm that by interviewing these children. And it is true that some are raised in various palaces, given a lot of opportunities, and treated very well.

So now many of them are adults, living and working in the Gulf but still stateless. Recently there’s been a slew of articles that have indicated that some of the Gulf countries, the U.A.E. and Kuwait included, are engaging in deals with the Comoros Islands where, in exchange for money to build roads and bridges, they are getting passports from the Comoros Islands. Initially it was thought that they would just get passports to give to these stateless individuals, but the individuals had to remain in the Gulf. However, a closer look at some of the contracts indicates that some of these stateless individuals who are being given Comoros citizenship actually will have to go to the Comoros Islands, which is a very disconcerting prospect for many stateless individuals in the Gulf. And for people who are from the Comoros Islands, they are now thinking, “Oh, our citizenship is for sale,” to stateless individuals who are suddenly told that they are citizens of a country they’ve never even heard of.

PCM:  You write about something you call “intimate mobility.” What is that?

MAHDAVI: Intimate mobility is kind of a trope that I’m putting forward in the book. Basically, it’s the idea that people do migrate in search of economic mobility and social mobility—which is obvious to a lot of people—but people also migrate in search of intimate mobility, or a way to mobilize their intimate selves. For example, they migrate to get away from their families in search of a way or space to explore their sexualities. Some form new intimate ties through migration. For others, their intimate subjectivities are challenged when one or more members of the family leave. My book is asking us to think about how intimacy can be both activated and challenged in migration.

PCM: What does it mean to mobilize one’s intimate self?

MAHDAVI: There was a young woman who migrated, who left India because her parents wanted her to get married in an arranged marriage. But she left because she saw herself as somebody who would not want to marry a man. She identifies as a lesbian, and so she migrated to Dubai so that she could explore that sexual side of herself. So that’s some of the intimate mobility I’m talking about.

On the flip side, I talk about intimate immobility and I talk about how people’s intimate lives, as in their intimate connections with their children back home or their partners back home, become immobilized when they are in the host country. Their intimate selves are immobilized because they can’t fully express their love for their children or for their partners. And also women who are guest workers or low-skilled workers legally cannot engage in sexual relations so they can’t as easily engage in a relationship.

Pardis Mahdavi is associate professor of anthropology, chair of the Pomona College Anthropology Department and director of the Pacific Basin Institute. Crossing the Gulf is her fourth book.


All the fun stuff from campus: Pomona College tidbits, traditions, lore and more.

Cecil Skateboarding