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University professor authors award-winning immigration and deportation book

'Returned,' by Deborah A. Boehm, joins dozens of other books in the 'California Series in Public Anthropology'

Associate professor of anthropology and women’s studies, Deborah A. Boehm, publishes her second book. Featured oil painting by Rafael Blanco, 2011.

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1/24/2017 | By: Hannah Richardson |

Deborah A. Boehm, associate professor of anthropology and women's studies and interim director of the Gender, Race, and Identity Program at the University of Nevada, Reno, published her second book, "Returned: Going and Coming in an Age of Deportation," last spring. The book proposal received the California Series in Public Anthropology Award in 2014 and was published as a part of the nationally recognized "California Series in Public Anthropology" through the Center for a Public Anthropology. According to the Center for a Public Anthropology website, the series draws professional scholars from a wide range of disciplines to address major public issues in ways that help non-academic audiences understand them. "Returned" has joined dozens of other books within the series.

"To have my book featured alongside those of authors and colleagues I respect so much is indeed an honor," Boehm said.

"Returned" follows transnational Mexicans as they experience the alienation and unpredictability of deportation, while tracing the particular ways that United States immigration policies and state removals affect families. Boehm explained that her book is based on research with individuals and their family members-people of all ages and citizens of both Mexico and the United States-who have been impacted by deportation from the United States.

Boehm's book took several years of ethnographic research. She spent time with families and witnessed the disruption and suffering caused by deportation. She interviewed those who had been deported as well as family members and people in local communities in both countries. Boehm's research began when immigrant families she knew started to experience deportation. She said that prior to 2008, she knew very few immigrants who had been deported, but soon after an increase in the number of deportations of foreign nationals from the United States, many of the immigrants she knew were either deported themselves or faced the deportation of a family member.

"Deportations have been on the rise since the 1990s; more than three million people have been deported from the United States in the last decade," Boehm said. "These numbers are unprecedented, and given the current political climate, they are likely to continue or increase in the years to come."

Through Boehm's book, she would like readers to understand the hardships that deportation can bring to immigrants and their families.

"I hope that those reading the book will see deportation as the complex topic that it is, and will reflect on the suffering, devastation and profound loss that often result from United States immigration policies," Boehm said. "My work focuses on human experience and how deportation impacts people's everyday lives, an aspect of deportation that is rarely considered in media representations or policy debates."

Boehm is currently researching a new project about immigration detention that is an extension of her research about deportation.

"Deportees I interviewed often spoke of painful memories of detention, and of the harrowing experiences they had while detained," Boehm said. "Their experiences have led me to now focus on detention itself."

Related Academic Program

Boehm has been at the University since 2007. She became interested in interdisciplinary research and teaching during graduate school where she earned her interdisciplinary master of art's degree in Latin American studies, with concentrations in anthropology and women's studies, and her doctorate in anthropology. At the University, Boehm teaches courses related to her research, including a course about gender and migration and several graduate courses including, "Theories of Oppression" and "Theories of Identity and Difference."

"Returned" is available for purchase through The University of California Press, and her first book, "Intimate Migrations: Gender, Family, Illegality among Transnational Mexicans," is available for purchase through the New York University Press.

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