Lives beyond Borders

US Immigrant Women's Life Writing, Nationality, and Social Justice

By Ina C. Seethaler

Subjects: Multiethnic Literature, Literary Criticism, Women's Studies, Autobigraphy, Feminist
Series: SUNY series in Multiethnic Literatures
Hardcover : 9781438486192, 232 pages, November 2021
Paperback : 9781438486208, 232 pages, July 2022

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Table of contents


Introduction: Reading Memoirs by Immigrant Women in the United States

1. A Genre for Justice: Life Writing and Undocumented Migration

2. Living Like an Alien: Blackness, Migration, and Depression

3. Transnational Adoptee Life Writing: Oppressed Voices and Genre Choices

4. (Re)Negotiating the Self: Collective Memoir and Border Crossings

5. Life Narratives and the Syrian Refugee Crisis

Epilogue: The Power and Future of Immigrant Women's Life Writing

Works Cited

Examines how contemporary US migrant women's life writing adapts autobiographical genres to call for social change benefiting minoritized communities.


A cross-cultural, comparative study of contemporary life writing by women who migrated to the United States from Mexico, Ghana, South Korea, and Iran, Lives beyond Borders broadens and deepens critical work on immigrant life writing. Ina C. Seethaler investigates how these autobiographical texts—through genre mixing, motifs of doubling, and other techniques—challenge stereotypes, social hierarchies, and the supposed fixity of identity and lend literary support to grassroots social justice efforts. Seethaler's approach to literary analysis is both interdisciplinary and accessible. While Lives beyond Borders draws on feminist theory, critical race theory, and disability and migration studies, it also uses stories to engage and interest readers in issues related to migration and social change. In so doing, the book reevaluates the purpose, form, and audience of immigrant life writing.

Ina C. Seethaler is Associate Professor and Director of Women's and Gender Studies at Coastal Carolina University.


"…Lives Beyond Borders perhaps offers the most fruitful reading experience when approached as a collection of case studies, as each thematical chapter on its own presents valuable insights into various novel and innovative advances in the field of female migrant life writing, spanning diverse regional and thematic backgrounds." — Amerikastudien / American Studies

"The great strength of Lives beyond Borders is the diversity and range of texts chosen for analysis. Each memoir represents a case study in a particular situation of immigration to the United States and poses specific challenges regarding the kinds of discourse that frame that situation, although Seethaler takes pains to acknowledge and consider the intersectionality of nationality, gender, race, and citizenship that plays itself out in each author's story." — Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature