What We Are Reading Today: Notes on a Shipwreck by Davide Enia

Updated 22 February 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Notes on a Shipwreck by Davide Enia

The book is a moving firsthand account of migrant landings on the island of Lampedusa that gives voice to refugees, locals, and volunteers while also exploring a deeply personal father-son relationship. 

“The island of Lampedusa, as the Italian playwright and journalist Davide Enia explains in this quiet yet urgent memoir, is territorially European but belongs tectonically to nearby Africa,” states Steven Heighton in a review published in The New York Times. 

For some 20 years, migrants and refugees launching from Africa have been arriving on this remote, treeless outpost, hoping to travel on to the European mainland. 

“Structurally, the book attests that a sincere engagement with global crises can grow only from a soil of sympathy that’s local and personal,” Heighton added.

A reviewer commented on goodreads.com: “Enia reawakens our sense of wonder at the existential nature, the true terror and dangerousness inherent in the refugee journey by sea. And in the process, he reawakens our compassion.”


What We Are Reading Today: Gateway State by Sarah Miller-Davenport

Updated 24 March 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Gateway State by Sarah Miller-Davenport

  • Once a racially problematic overseas colony, by the 1960s, Hawaii had come to symbolize John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier

Gateway State explores the development of Hawai’i as a model for liberal multiculturalism and a tool of American global power in the era of decolonization. The establishment of Hawaii statehood in 1959 was a watershed moment, not only in the ways Americans defined their nation’s role on the international stage but also in the ways they understood the problems of social difference at home. Hawaii’s remarkable transition from territory to state heralded the emergence of postwar multiculturalism, which was a response both to independence movements abroad and to the limits of civil rights in the US.

Once a racially problematic overseas colony, by the 1960s, Hawaii had come to symbolize John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier. This was a more inclusive idea of who counted as American at home and what areas of the world were considered to be within the US sphere of influence. Statehood advocates argued that Hawaii and its majority Asian population could serve as a bridge to Cold War Asia — and as a global showcase of American democracy and racial harmony. Business leaders and policymakers worked to institutionalize and sell this ideal by capitalizing on Hawaii’s diversity. 

Asian Americans in Hawaii never lost a perceived connection to Asia. Instead, their ethnic difference became a marketable resource to help other Americans navigate a decolonizing world.