I made it “official” to my friends on Facebook sometime last month, but I never posted about it here: my book is officially under contract at Temple University Press and should come out sometime in 2015!!! The book, currently titled Delinking: The New York Young Lords and the Struggle for Liberation, is over a decade in the making. It began as seminar paper, turned into a dissertation, and has been been the subject of some of my journal articles and book chapters since then.
This book almost didn’t happen. In fact, after doing The Young Lords: A Reader (NYU Press, 2010), I’d pretty much given up on turning my research into a full book monograph. Why? Well, I had a serious case of topic fatigue … and that was combined with a difficult time thinking about what angle I wanted to approach it from. I had grown bored with the radical democratic focus of the dissertation and my early journal articles (a theoretical focus I now repudiate); and the next frame I started thinking through (one focused on nationalism) ended abruptly when I encountered a new published article that did much of what I had been thinking about. It took a stern talking-to from my former adviser (something like, “Come on … just publish the damn thing”) and a reminder about decoloniality from some college debaters to kick me into gear. So here I am, now, finishing the edits and reflecting a bit about the process. Continue on for a brief summary of the book and what I’ll be blogging about next….
During their brief tenure (1969-1976), the New York Young Lords were a revolutionary nationalist, anti-racist, anti-sexist group who advanced a thirteen-point political program featuring support for the liberation of all Puerto Ricans (on the island and in the US), the broader liberation of all Third World people, equality for women, US demilitarization, leftist political education, redistributive justice, and other programs as they fit into their ecumenical ideology. Their activism took many forms. They gave speeches, held rallies, taught political education courses out of their community offices, and produced a newspaper and radio program (both called Palante) that articulated their vision of democratic egalitarianism, anti-colonialism, and socialist redistribution. They started numerous community initiatives, performed acts of civil disobedience, and engaged in what they believed were strategically and tactically sound actions to advance their cause and transform their people. Operating in a colonial borderland that was mapped onto their spaces, bodies, and minds, the Young Lords advanced decolonial sensibilities in El Barrio/East Harlem and beyond.
Through careful archival research and theoretically informed critical perspectives, Delinking contextualizes and crafts an account of the New York Young Lords that rescues them from historical obscurity and makes an argument for why people should read about them today. Beyond the historical point, the project engages the Young Lords as a critical touchstone that can enrich and inform contemporary discussions about Latin@s specifically and decolonial politics more broadly. Putting scholarly literatures from American studies, Latin@ studies, rhetorical studies, and history into conversation, the book provides me with an opportunity to refine decolonial theory with a greater attentiveness to context and situated public discourses than is often found within existing scholarship.
So that’s it in a nutshell. I’ll probably blog a couple of times in the months to come about process stuff — going through revisions, negotiating the title, working with the wonderful people at Temple, etc. I’ll also be heading back to NYC one more time to try to track down an image that I thought I had, but apparently don’t. At some point, I might even revisit the issue of archive praxis that I blogged about a couple of years back.
Until then, farewell!