Cover of The Borders of Privilege by Kara B. Cebulko
The Borders of Privilege
1.5-Generation Brazilian Migrants Navigating Power Without Papers
Kara B. Cebulko

January 2025
248 pages.
from $28.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503637177
Paperback ISBN: 9781503641532



Because whiteness is not a given for Brazilians in the U.S., some immigrants actively construct it as a protective mechanism against the stigma normally associated with illegality. In The Borders of Privilege, Kara Cebulko tells the stories of a group of 1.5 generation Brazilians to show how their ability to be perceived as white—their power without papers—shaped their everyday interactions. By strategically creating boundaries with other racialized groups, these immigrants navigated life-course rituals like college, work, and marriage without legal documentation. Few identify as white in the U.S., even as they benefit from the privileges of whiteness. The legal exclusion they feel as undocumented immigrants from Latin America makes them feel a world apart from their white citizen peers. However, their constructed whiteness benefitted them when it came to interactions with law enforcement and professional advancement, challenging narratives that frame legality as a "master-status." Understanding these experiences requires us to explore interlocking systems of power, including white supremacy and capitalism, as well as global histories of domination. Cebulko traces the experiences of her interviewees across various stages of life, applying a "power without paper" lens, and making the case for integrating this perspective into future scholarship, collective broad-based movements for social justice, and public policy.

About the author

Kara B. Cebulko is Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Providence College. She is the author of Documented, Undocumented and Something Else (2013).