Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Time for Pause and Celebration: 2012 in Review

At the end of each annual year, I like to step back and take stock of what I have accomplished during the year. This permits me to acknowledge all I am doing, to take pride in what I have accomplished, and to relieve some of the anxiety of the never-ending pressure to do more. When I review all I have accomplished it becomes apparent that I do not need to work any faster or harder, as I have accomplished so much during the year. It also becomes clear that my end of the year break is well-deserved.


This past year has been very fast-paced. I gave fourteen public lectures or presentations at universities around the country. I spent two months of the summer traveling and researching in Peru. I moved to a new university and a new town. And, I took over as chair of the Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities of the American Sociological Association.

I was usually able to maintain my pace of writing for two hours a day when I was not on the road, and about 30 minutes a day when I was. Let’s look at what I was able to accomplish over the past year.

Rewards in academia are rare, and are often long in the making. I will begin with the most tangible outcomes, even though these are largely the product of previous years’ work.


I have two new books in print, and my first book was released in paperback. This, of course, is the result of effort in prior years, but it is important to take note of the final products.

2012. Due Process Denied: Detentions and Deportations in United States. Routledge: New York.

2012. Immigration Nation: Raids, Detentions and Deportations in Post-911 America. Paradigm Publishers: Boulder, CO.

My book that originally appeared in 2011 – Yo Soy Negro: Blackness in Peru – came out in paperback and received positive reviews in two major journals.

Articles, Book Chapters and Shorter Pieces

I also had an article, a book chapter and two short pieces appear in print this year. I wrote the book chapter over a year ago. I started the article in 2011, but had to revise it for resubmission this year. Finally, I have two short pieces that I wrote and submitted this year, and that also came out this year. Here is what I have in print in 2012:

2012. “Causes and Consequences of International Migration: Sociological Evidence for the Right to Mobility” (Cecilia Menjívar, second author) International Journal of Human Rights.

2012. “International Migration” Handbook of Sociology and Human Rights, edited by David L. Brunsma, Keri E. Iyall Smith, and Brian K. Gran. Paradigm Publishers.

2012. “Ethnopoetics: A Jamaican Deportee Tells His Story” Societies without Borders 7:3.

2012. “What does a Sociology without Borders Look Like?” Societies without Borders 7:4.


I also have six pieces that are forthcoming in 2013: two articles, two book chapters, and two short essays. I began writing all of them in 2011. I did some work on them in 2012, and received confirmation that they would be forthcoming this year.

Forthcoming. “Forced Transnationalism: Transnational Coping Strategies and Gendered Stigma among Jamaican Deportees” Global Networks.

Forthcoming. “‘It Was Only a Joke’: How Racial Humor Fuels Race-blind Ideologies in Mexico and Peru” Sue, Christina and Tanya Golash-Boza. Ethnic and Racial Studies.

Forthcoming. “Fourteen Months, Four Countries, and Three Kids: Tales from the Field” In: Artificial Divide: Family and Work in Everyday Ethnography. Editors: Tamara Mose Brown and Joanna Dreby. Temple University Press.

Forthcoming. “From Legal to “Illegal”: The Deportation of Legal Permanent Residents from the United States” In Immigrant Illegality: Constructions, Critiques, and Resistance. Edited by: Cecilia Menjívar and Daniel Kanstroom. Cambridge University Press.

Forthcoming. “More Than ‘A Hidden Race’: The Complexities of Blackness in Mexico and Peru” Review Essay of Black in Latin America Film by Henry Louis Gates. (Christina A. Sue, first author). Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies.

Forthcoming. “Does Racial Formation Theory Lack the Conceptual Tools to Understand Racism?” Ethnic and Racial Studies.

Under Review

I have one article that I submitted in 2012 that is still under review. This is an article that my co-author and I were able to write, submit, and resubmit all in this calendar year.

Under Review. “Latino Immigrant Men and the Deportation Crisis: A Gendered Racial Removal Program?” Golash-Boza, Tanya and Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo. Revise and Resubmit from Latino Studies.


Finally, I have two books that I continue to work on. These are a bit hard to quantify as I seem to always be writing, revising, cutting, and sending things to my editors. However, I suppose I can say that I wrote five chapters of the race book this year and have moved four chapters of the deportee book into final version.

2014. Race and Racisms: A Critical Approach Oxford University Press: New York. (Under contract – 9 of 15 chapters completed).

In progress: Deported: Controlling Global Flows of Labor and Capital (Introduction plus 3 of 7 chapters completed).

Wow. That’s a lot. I wonder if I can quantify what I have done this year. I think there are two main categories of writing – drafting and revising.

I drafted 41,000 new words.
- 4 chapters of Race: 4*8000 = 32000 words.
- 3 short pieces = 5000 words
- ½ of a co-authored article: 4000 words

I revised substantially 40,000 words.
- 4 chapters of the Deported book = 32000 words
- ½ of a co-authored article = 4000 words
- ½ of another co-authored article = 4000 words

I also wrote about 30 blog entries for an additional 24,000 words. Whew. That’s a lot of words. As always, however, I almost never write for more than two hours a day. And, I took several writing-free breaks while traveling.

If I can write 40,000 words in a year and revise another 40,000 that means it would probably take me about 2 and a half years to write a book that is 100,000 words if that were the only writing project I focused on. Or, I could write and revise four articles or book chapters a year. The catch is, of course, that these things also come back for revision again and again. So, I might write and submit an article in three months. But, it will come back and I will have to spend another 2-4 weeks revising it for resubmission.

At any rate, I continue to be impressed with all one can do by writing two hours a day!

What about you? Have you taken stock of your accomplishments for 2012? Why or why not?

Either way, I wish you a great rest of 2012 and a happy holiday season.

As for me, I am winding things down and in terms of work and gearing up for my two-week vacation from work! I hope to return rested, renewed, and ready for 2013.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Give yourself a break - a real one!

How do you plan to spend the upcoming holidays?

No matter how busy your Fall semester was nor how busy your Spring semester will be, one of the most important things you can do during this winter break is to take a real break.

It’s the end of the year. Heck, it may well be the end of the world after December 21, 2012. So, take a break.

If you haven’t taken a break in a while, and have forgotten how to do so, don’t worry: I can explain to you how to do it.

Taking a break - in four simple steps.

Step 1: Choose a date to start your break.

When will you begin your break? This Friday? December 24? Before then? Or, perhaps you’ve already started? Whenever it is, choose a date and plan to stop working on that date. At a very minimum, you should plan to take 4 days off. I hope you will at least take off the week between December 25 and January 2. If you are taking off more days, please let me know in the comments section, as I am always pleased to hear about people taking long vacations.

Step 2: Figure out what will and will not get done in the remainder of this semester (Use the 4 D's)

What tasks will and will not get done this semester? Which tasks will never get done? Which ones can be deferred or delegated? Anyone who has read David Allen's Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity will know that there are four options for any task: do, defer, delete, or delegate.

To be able to take a break over the winter holiday, you will have to look at your remaining tasks and decide if you will do them this Fall, defer them to a later date, decide they are not important and delete them, or delegate them. These decisions can be hard, but it is ideal to decide now what will and will not get done to avoid feeling guilty later.

All of your pending tasks for the remainder of 2012 should fall into these four categories:
  1. DO:  Prioritize all of the tasks and projects you actually can and will do before you take a break.
  2. DEFER: If the project is something you really would like to do, but can wait until the Spring, defer it.
  3. DELETE: If you take a good look at your to-do list, I am sure you can find at least one task - perhaps more - that you can delete. (If you are deleting more than two, let me know in the comments section!)
  4. DELEGATE: Delegation is often particularly hard for academics, but there are things that can be delegated, such as organizing your office, transcribing your interviews, cleaning your data, and formatting your endnotes.

Go easy on yourself and only choose “do” for those items that must be done by you and must be done by the end of the year. Those items might include: grading, ordering books for next semester, finishing an overdue review or paper. Everything that is non-essential can either be deleted or at least deferred to next year.

Step 3: Finish what’s left on your list by your chosen end date.

Once you have a manageable lists of tasks on your plate, it will be easier to focus on those and get those done. Once you finish them, you will be ready for your guilt-free break.

Step 4: Take a real break

A real break means no work. It means taking care of yourself, relaxing, and allowing yourself luxuries that you don't normally take. A real break feels good and is good for your health.

During your break, I encourage you to:

  • Avoid email: Email will just remind you of work, which is not the point of taking a break.
  • Exercise daily: You don't have to run six miles a day. You can walk around the block, go ice skating, or take a bike ride. Exercise makes you feel good and is good for you. Win-win!
  • Read a novel.
  • Watch a film or television show you enjoy.
  • Cook healthy meals for yourself.
  • Eat lots of fruits and veggies.
  • Talk to your friends and family – in person and over the phone.
  • Dance, sing, play the guitar, write poetry: get in touch with your creative side.

Once you’ve finished your break, you will be rejuvenated and ready to start work again. Make sure you take enough time off to be refreshed when you return.

And, make sure that when you take a break, you really take a break. Doing so can actually do wonders for your productivity and creativity. Scientists have found that four days in nature enhances creativity. Spending time in nature, completely unplugged can enhance your emotional and physical health. Try it!