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Sunaina Maira: “More Delicate Than a Flower, Yet Harder Than a Rock: Human Rights in the Shadow of an Empire”
November 13, 2012 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm | Stevenson Fireside Lounge
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.
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. Maira has worked with various antiwar, civil rights, and immigrant rights groups in the Bay Area.
This event is organized and sponsored by the Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Program. Cosponsored by the University of California Center for New Racial Studies, the Division of Humanities at UCSC, and the UC Presidential Chair in Feminist Critical Race and Ethnic Studies. Staff support provided by the Institute for Humanities Research.