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Humanities Division Hosts Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Speaker Series

Sunaina Maira, Professor of Asian American Studies at UC Davis, will give a lecture on Tuesday, November 13 at 4:00 p.m. in the Humanities 1 building, Room 210.

“More Delicate Than a Flower, Yet Harder Than a Rock: Human Rights in the Shadow of Empire.”

Sunaina Maira

Visiting Speaker Sunaina Maira is Professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Davis.

The Humanities Division is hosting a 2012-13 Critical Race and Ethnic Studies (CRES) visiting speaker series, inviting scholars to UCSC in the fall, winter, and spring quarters in anticipation of developing a formal CRES proposal for the Academic Senate. The speaker series aims to generate additional interest about CRES from students and faculty, and to refine the project’s vision by participating in dialogue with cutting edge scholars who have experience building and contributing to various ethnic studies programs.

Each visiting speaker will deliver a public lecture, participate in a CRES seminar for students and faculty, and engage in a hands-on, institution-building conversation to compare UCSC’s CRES project with similar efforts elsewhere.

“The objective of the series, and of CRES in general, is to explore our capacity to define a sustainable democratic future and a more just society,” said Juan Poblete, Literature professor and CRES faculty group member. “This depends on our ability to understand the intertwined and complex histories of inequality and discrimination, on the one hand, and the struggles for equality and representation, on the other. One of the goals of the CRES project is to make that academic and critical reflection possible.”

Juan Poblete

“The objective of the series, and of CRES in general, is to explore our capacity to define a sustainable democratic future and a more just society.” – Juan Poblete

Our first visiting speaker, Sunaina Maira, Professor of Asian American Studies at UC Davis, will give a lecture on Tuesday, November 13 at 4:00 p.m. in the Humanities 1 building, Room 210. Professor Maira’s talk is titled, “More Delicate Than a Flower, Yet Harder Than a Rock: Human Rights in the Shadow of Empire.”

This talk focuses on the political mobilization of young people targeted by the War on Terror, exploring what it means to challenge the U.S. imperial state from within and to engage in solidarity with those beyond its borders who are targets of imperial violence. It draws on an ethnographic study of South Asian, Arab, and Afghan American youth in Silicon Valley and new forms of politics and coalition-building that have emerged since 9/11 among youth who are seen as prime suspects in the domestic War on Terror. What does it mean to view the political subjecthood of South Asian, Arab, and Afghan American youth through the theoretical lenses of critical ethnic studies and work on imperialism and settler colonialism? The research demonstrates that while college-age youth often turn to the framework of civil rights and human rights in responding to regimes of surveillance and policing and opposing overseas wars and occupation, they also have to confront the failure of liberal rights-talk in particular instances of political organizing that go beyond a politics of multicultural recognition.

About Sunaina Maira

Sunaina Maira is Professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Davis. She is the author of Desis in the House: Indian American Youth Culture in New York City and Missing: Youth, Citizenship, and Empire After 9/11. She is coeditor (with Elisabeth Soep) of Youthscapes: The Popular, the National, the Global and (with Rajini Srikanth) of Contours of the Heart: South Asians Map North America, which won the American Book Award in 1997. Professor Maira has worked with various antiwar, civil rights, and immigrant rights groups in the Bay Area.

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