Contested Citizenship Conference

March 30-31, 2017.  American Studies is co-hosting the Contested Citizenship Conference at the UConn Alumni House.  Keynote speaker: Vijay Prashad

Contested Citizenship Conference

University of Connecticut

Alumni House

Conference Overview

For scholars in ethnic studies, gender and sexuality studies, and American studies, “citizenship” is far from a neutral signifier: it marks a deeply vexed and historically contingent site of struggle.  Despite the rise of human rights in the postwar period, citizenship within a nation state is still the de facto basis of legal personhood in the contemporary world system: all too often, legal citizenship marks a boundary between the subject of rights and the object of state violence.  At the same time, citizenship is more than a legal category.  As Lauren Berlant has written, it is also felt as an intimate relationship among strangers, a common identity rooted in a geopolitical space.  As such, it is an institutionally constructed promise of security and “the good life,” one which is unevenly delivered due to the social hierarchies on which the nation state depends.

This conference brings together scholars from a variety of fields to address the ways in which citizenship operates as a terrain of struggle.  What does the history of state violence and mass incarceration tell us about the racialized nature of citizenship in the United States, and the ultimate revocability of legal personhood?  How has the gap between lived experience and the promises of citizenship generated new democratic struggles?  When has this gap generated a fierce and exclusionary over-identification with citizenship, constitutive of political reaction?  How have people organized collectively in ways that push against citizenship as the ultimate rubric of political subjectivity?  And how is the citizen/non-citizen dyad crucial to the accumulation of capital and the maintenance of empire?  Panelists from the University of Connecticut and across the country will discuss the ways in which their work intersects with such questions, and we hope to bring together their insights in an edited volume on the theme of contested citizenship.

Thursday, March 30

5:00 pm                     Reception

5:30pm                        Keynote:  Vijay Prashad (Trinity College)

Introduction by Cathy Schlund-Vials (UConn)                      

Friday, March 31

9:00-9:30am                Welcome:  Shirley Roe (UConn, Associate Dean, CLAS)

Chris Vials (UConn)

9:30-11:00am              Panel 1: State Violence and Incarceration

–Robert Chase (SUNY-Stonybrook)

–Cindy Wu (SUNY-Buffalo)

–Melanie Newport (UConn)

Moderator: Noel Cazenave (UConn)

11:15-11:30                 Coffee Break

11:15-12:45pm          Panel 2: Undocumented Workers and Students

–Mark Overmyer-Velázquez (UConn, History/El Instituto)

–Alicia Schmidt Camacho (Yale, Ethnicity, Race, and Migration)

–Aviva Chomsky (Salem State, History)

Moderator:  Yael Schacher (UConn)

12:45-1:45pm          Lunch

1:45-3:15pm           Panel 3:  Empire, Labor, and Capital

–Christina Heatherton (Trinity University)

–Cesar Abadia (UConn)

–Iyko Day (Mt. Holyoke College)        

Moderator: Chris Vials (UConn)       

3:30-4:30pm         Closing Remarks / Meeting on Publication

Mark Overmyer-Velázquez


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