Border Studies Initiative Examines ‘Racialized Belonging’

Defining borders, looking at who is crossing them and who we allow and don’t allow to cross them, are some of the issues the UC Davis Comparative Border Studies Initiative investigates. The next event of the Mellon Foundation funded three-year initiative will focus on the topic “Human Rights, Citizenship and Racialized Belonging.” It takes place Friday, Feb. 5 from noon to 3 p.m. in the Art Annex, Room 107, and will also be live streamed on Twitter via @MellonCBS.

“At this moment of rising global tensions regarding migration and the militarization of borders, as well as global movements challenging racist exclusion from Europe to the Americas, the initiative promotes interdisciplinary, comparative research on the making, unmaking, crossing and fortification of borders,” said Robert Irwin, professor of Spanish and co-director of the initiative with Sunaina Maira, professor of Asian American Studies.

“We are focused this year on the deployment of the notion of human rights, and struggles contesting border violence and racial regimes of citizenship,” Maira said. “This keynote event brings internationally renowned scholars to campus for a live streamed dialogue that will address issues of human rights, citizenship and racialized belonging across disciplinary and spatial borders.”

“Human Rights, Citizenship and Racialized Belonging” features two visiting scholars:

Walter Mignolo, professor in anthropology and literature at Duke University, will give a talk titled “What Does It Mean to Be Human in Western Civilization: A Decolonial Take.” Mignolo has published extensively on semiotics and literary theory and worked on different aspects of the modern and colonial world, exploring concepts such as global coloniality, the geopolitics of knowledge and border thinking. He is author of The Darker Side of Western Modernity: Global Futures, Decolonial Options and The Idea of Latin America.

Engin Isin, professor in politics and international studies at The Open University in the United Kingdom, will give a talk titled “Doing Global Justice: How Activists Perform Rights Across Borders.” He has published widely on the politics of citizenship with attention to documenting historically how citizenship has been contested by its outsiders and aliens. He is author of Citizenship After Orientalism: Transforming Political Theory, Citizens Without Frontiers and Being Political: Genealogies of Citizenship.

The event will include formal presentations by the guests, a discussion between them, an open discussion involving the audience and a reception. It is free and open to the public.

The Comparative Border Studies Initiative is a Mellon Foundation funded three-year program co-directed by Sunaina Maira, professor of Asian American Studies,, and Robert Irwin, professor of Spanish,

— Jeffrey Day, content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science