We live in a society where dependency is treated as a social pathology and an individual failing. To confess one's dependencies is to forfeit one's individuality and rights in the American state. This book interrogates and rejects this discourse of dependency, imagining instead a society where relying on help from others and the state is seen as good common sense and an act of responsible citizenship.
The academic profession is not immune to the discourse of dependency. We acknowledge the influence of others on our work but fall back on a model of rugged independence where scholarship is most valued when it is a singular enterprise. This is especially true in the humanities where coauthored work is viewed with trepidation, where ideas are believed to be diluted and rigor comprised when academic work is produced jointly. We too are guilty of picking up a coauthored book only to search for clues of who did what and who should get the real credit. And yet, when we read through this book, it is impossible to mark where Jeanne's ideas end and Alejandra's begin. Written too often with four hands on the keyboard, this book confirms for us that scholarship is enriched when two people wade chin-deep in the minutiae and expanse of social inquiry. This book grew through interdependency, and we hope that it is all the better for it.
Our work also stands on the shoulders, backs, actions, and words of many other people. It was born out of a collaborative process, out of the history of struggle that produced ethnic studies, out of the collective fight for welfare and immigrant rights being waged today by groups like Californians for Justice, the Kensington Welfare Rights Union and the University of the Poor, and the Los Angeles Metropolitan Alliance, out of a community of friends, activists, and scholars where the individual ownership of ideas is secondary to the larger task of social justice and transformative knowledge.