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Dr. Michael Rodriguez Muñiz

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Born and raised on the northwest side of Chicago, Michael Rodríguez-Muñiz is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and the Latina and Latino Studies Program at Northwestern University. He received his PhD in sociology from Brown University in 2015, along with an MA from the University of Illinois-Chicago in 2009 and a BA from Northeastern Illinois University in 2003. Michael was awarded the 2016 American Sociological Association Dissertation Award, which was the basis of his forthcoming book, Figures of the Future: Latino Civil Rights and the Politics of Demography (Princeton University Press). Currently, Michael is spearheading a community-based archival project in collaboration with the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, an organization that he has supported and participated in for the past two decades. Prior to graduate school, Michael was one of the founders of Batey Urbano, the Humboldt Park No Se Vende campaign, and La Voz del Paseo Boricua newspaper.

From Hip-Hop to Humanization: Batey Urbano as a Space for Latino Youth Culture and Community Action

The failure of current policy to address important quality of life issues for urban youth remains a substantial barrier to civic participation, educational equity, and healthy adulthood. This volume brings together the work of leading urban youth scholars to highlight the detrimental impact of zero tolerance policies on young people’s educational experience and well being. Inspired by the conviction that urban youth have the right to more equitable educational and social resources and political representation, Beyond Resistance! offers new insights into how to increase the effectiveness of youth development and education programs, and how to create responsive youth policies at the local, state, and federal level.

Flores-González, Nilda, Matthew Rodríguez, and Michael Rodríguez-Muñiz. 2006. “From Hip-Hop to Humanization: Batey Urbano as a Space for Latino Youth Culture and Community Action.” Pp. 175-96 in Beyond Resistance! Youth Activism and Community Change: New Democratic Possibilities for Practice and Policy for America’s Youth, edited by Shawn Ginwright, Pedro Noguera, and Julio Cammarota. New York: Routledge.

¡Marcha! Latino Chicago and the Immigrant Rights Movement

¡Marcha! is a multidisciplinary survey of the individuals, organizations, and institutions that have given shape and power to the contemporary immigrant rights movement in Chicago. A city with long-standing historic ties to immigrant activism, Chicago was the scene of a precedent-setting immigrant rights mobilization in 2006 and subsequent mobilizations in 2007 and 2008.

Positing Chicago as a microcosm of the immigrant rights movement on a national level, these essays plumb an extraordinarily rich set of data regarding recent immigrant rights activities, defining the cause as not just a local quest for citizenship rights, but a panethnic, transnational movement. The result is a timely volume likely to provoke debate and advance the national conversation about immigration in innovative ways.

Contributors are Frances R. Aparicio, José Antonio Arellano, Xóchitl Bada, David Bleeden, Ralph Cintrón, Stephen P. Davis, Leon Fink, Nilda Flores-González, Caroline Gottschalk-Druschke, Elena R. Gutiérrez, Juan R. Martinez, Sonia Oliva, Irma M. Olmedo, Amalia Pallares, José Perales-Ramos, Leonard G. Ramírez, Michael Rodríguez Muñiz, and R. Stephen Warner.

Marcha brings together a diverse array of complementary analyses of the key actors, ideas, and institutions of the spring 2006 immigrant rights mobilization, the largest single wave of street protests in U.S. history.”–Jonathan Fox, author of Accountability Politics: Power and Voice in Rural Mexico

Flores-González, Nilda and Michael Rodríguez-Muñiz. 2014. “Latino Solidarity, Citizenship, and Puerto Rican Youth in the Immigrant RightsMovement.” Pp. 17-38 in Diaspora Studies in Education: Towards a Framework for Understanding the Experiences of Transnational Communities, edited by R. Rolon-Dow and J. G. Irizarry. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.

Toward a Framework for Understanding the Experiences of Transnational Communities

The Latino/a diaspora is undoubtedly transforming the demographics and cultural geographies of the United States. Diaspora Studies in Education advances an active use of the concept of «diaspora», focusing on processes that impact the diasporization of the Latino/a population, and more specifically, examining those diasporization processes in the arena of education. Focusing on the education of Puerto Ricans, the second largest Latino/a subgroup, the authors of this volume elucidate themes that are useful not only for those concerned with the education of Puerto Rican youth but also applicable to the study of other diasporic communities. The book is useful as a text in a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses, including foundations of education, multicultural education, anthropology of education, and introductory courses in Latino and ethnic studies departments.

Flores-González, Nilda and Michael Rodríguez-Muñiz. 2014. “Latino Solidarity, Citizenship, and Puerto Rican Youth in the Immigrant RightsMovement.” Pp. 17-38 in Diaspora Studies in Education: Towards a Framework for Understanding the Experiences of Transnational Communities, edited by R. Rolon-Dow and J. G. Irizarry. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.

Intellectual inheritances: Cultural diagnostics and the state of poverty knowledge

What factors influence the scholarly field of vision, its illuminations and omissions? Reflexive interventions have typically addressed this question via analyses of knowledge producers and their institutional contexts. In contrast, this article foregrounds the inherited cultural infrastructures that enable and constrain knowledge production. I propose a ‘cultural diagnostics’ approach to identify and explain the persistence of what I label ‘ontological myopias’, a type of intellectual constriction rooted in assumptions about the content and composition of the social world. To illustrate the purchase of this analytic strategy, I examine the case of the emerging cultural sociology of poverty. Cultural diagnostics reveal that recent works have, with few exceptions, inherited an underlying presumption of earlier cultural approaches, namely that the ‘poor’ and their lifeworlds should constitute the principal empirical object of poverty research. This myopic focus hinders the creation of a comprehensive and relational approach to the cultural study of poverty and inequality.

Rodríguez-Muñiz, Michael. “Intellectual Inheritances: Cultural Diagnostics and the State of Poverty Knowledge.” American Journal of Cultural Sociology 3: 89-122.


Riots and Remembrance: Puerto Rican Chicago and the Politics of Interruption

On the corner of Division Street and Washtenaw Avenue, just east of the green expanse that is Humboldt Park, Cristian Roldán and his collaborators are nearing completion of the latest mural to adorn the history-rich walls of this rapidly gentrifying barrio. The mural spans half-a-block, but its length in physical space pales in comparison to its length in historical time. With an array of vivid colors and characters, images and intimacies, Roldán tells a story that stretches centuries, from the Spanish conquest of the Taíno island of Borikén to the volatile formation of Puerto Rican Chicago. Anchored in this history, the mural commemorates the 50th anniversary of the “1966 Division Street Riot.” A decade ago, in 2006, an earlier mural was commissioned on the same wall for the same proposition.1 While that mural, painted by the local artist Martin Soto, also paid homage to the community’s history, it did so differently. With large, blossoming amapolas as its backdrop, the mural focused on the Puerto Rican institutions that arose out of the literal and metaphorical ashes of the riot.

Michael Rodríguez-Muñiz. 2016.  2015. “Riot and Remembrance: Puerto Rican Chicago and the Politics of Interruption.” Centro Journal 28:2 204-217.

A Response to Richard Alba’s “The Likely Persistence of a White Majority”

That politics undergirds censuses is a truism. At least since Benedict Anderson wrote Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism in 1983[i] scholars have accepted that censuses are both political and scientific enterprises. Census racial classifications are a case in point because they have historically become instituted through political efforts. For example, “Mulatto” became a census classification in 1850 after politicians, alarmed by racial miscegenation, demanded that the Census Bureau enumerate those of black/white parentage.[ii] More recent ethno-racial categories have arisen as a result of the political efforts championed by community stakeholders. To wit, the Hispanic/Latino classification emerged as Mexican, Puerto Rican, and other community leaders pressured the Census Bureau for official recognition during the 1970s.[iii] And if a Middle Eastern/North African category is added to the next census in 2020, as is predicted, it will be because activists, academics, and others have lobbied over two decades for its inclusion. In effect, rather than reflecting an existing reality, all census racial categories emerge or are negotiated, in such a political fashion—none exists in nature.

Despite the political origins of our official racial and ethnic categories, lay and academic prognostications about the country’s demographic future rarely take politics seriously.

Mora, Cristina G. and Michael Rodríguez-Muñiz. 2017. “Latinos, Race, and the American Future: A Response to Richard Alba’s ‘The Likely Persistence of a White Majority’.” New Labor Forum 26: 40–46.

Cultivating Consent: Nonstate Leaders and the Orchestration of State Legibility

In recent decades, the sociology of the state has become engrossed in the relationship between knowledge and modern statecraft. Heeding recent calls for “society-centered” approaches, this article investigates the role of nonstate leaders in the production of state knowledge. It takes up the following question: How have nonstate leaders (i.e., civil leaders and community advocates) contributed to what James Scott has termed “state legibility”? While historical traces suggest that these actors have worked to lessen opposition to state projects, this activity remains empirically understudied and conceptually underdeveloped. Addressed to this problem, this article introduces the concept of consent building and proposes an analytic approach that focuses on the motivations of nonstate leaders, the obstacles of noncompliance they confront, and the persuasive tactics used to foster public cooperation. To illustrate the purchase of this approach, it presents a case study of local Latino promoters of the 2010 U.S. census. This analysis reveals how nonstate leaders can enable, rather than impede, the capacity to “see like a state.”

Rodríguez-Muñiz, Michael. 2017. “Cultivating Consent: Nonstate Leaders and the Orchestration of State Legibility.” American Journal of Sociology 123: 1-41.

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