Call for Contributors: “Profit, Protest, and the Asylum Industry”

Edited volume. Proposal deadline: 31 July, 2017

[Click here for PDF]

Co-editors: Dr. Siobhán McGuirk, Georgetown University ( and Dr. Adrienne Pine, American University (

Overview: While the power to grant or deny asylum to people remains overwhelmingly within the purview of States,[1] we approach the actors and institutions forming around asylum systems internationally as “the asylum industry.” Our position engages analyses of commodification and industrialization in multiple, related spheres under neoliberal capitalism.

Call for Contributors: The proposed collection will unite international academics, activists, journalists, artists, and people directly impacted by the asylum industry to explore how current practices of asylum align with the neoliberal moment more broadly, and to present visions for alternative systems and processes. We are looking for contributions in a variety of forms, for example:

  • research papers (3,000-4,000 words)
  • journalistic articles (800-1,000 words)
  • photo-essays, data visualizations, political artwork, and other creative formats (e.g. diary entries; graphic novella; cartoons; poems, etc.).

Continue reading

AAA 2017 CFP: “Protest Matters”

*** extended deadline: midnight, Sunday April 9 ***

Excited to be organizing a session and interactive installation for the American Anthropological Association annual meetings, held in Washington D.C. this year. Looking for papers for the panel and people to help set up and run the installation.

Panel CFP: “Protest Matters: The Objects, Art, and Affect of Resistance”

Placards. Whistles. Pink, knitted “pussy” hats. Rainbow flags. Yard signs. Sage bundles. Drums. Pamphlets. Pots and pans. Padlocks. Buttons. Bull horns. Objects created or repurposed for protest have become emblematic of resistance to the Trump administration and related threats to social justice over the past year—in keeping with long histories of protest movements around the world. More than symbols, however, these objects become meaningful to the people who make and possess them—worn or displayed as badges of honor, and public identifiers of political opinion. Washington D.C., host to this year’s AAA meetings and a focal point for recent protests and rallies, is an ideal location in which to consider protest ephemera and the materiality of resistance from an anthropological perspective. We invite submissions of papers that address these broad themes from a variety of theoretical perspectives. Submissions may engage data collected in the United States, or elsewhere. Specific topics discussed may include, for example:

  • the dynamic relationship between art and activism, and feelings and things, in the context of protest;
  • the affective impact of taking part in public rallies and protests;
  • the sensorial experience of protesting and protest objects (i.e. colors, sounds, tactility, smells etc.)
  • how everyday objects can be transformed into political symbols;
  • the use of clothing, buttons, stickers etc. to assert opinions, project identities and/or to build community;
  • how preparation of protest objects (food, banners, puppets, etc.) forges connections between people;
  • how internet-based organizing has (or has not) changed the role of pamphlets, fly posters, zines, etc. in protest organizing and political messaging;
  • the role of anthropologists in documenting—and engaging in—social justice actions.

This panel will accompany and complement an interactive installation, “Protest Matters”, to which visitors are invited to contribute their own objects, and to record short video reflections on the memories and feelings that these artifacts evoke.

Please submit abstracts (250 words max.) for papers to be included on the panel to sm3276 [at] by midnight, Sunday April 9 [extended deadline]. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by Monday April 10. Expressions of interest in contributing to the installation are also welcome at the same address.

The Master’s Rhetoric Will Never Dismantle the Master’s Executive Orders

Originally published at the anthropology blog, Savage Minds, responding to their call for short commentaries on “anthropology in the Trump era”.

Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 6.13.05 PMIn late January, President Trump signed three Executive Orders concerning immigration. The “Muslim Ban” galvanized attention, from protests and Op-Eds to legislative action. Given the patently unconstitutional practices sanctioned by that Order, the maneuvers promised by the other two—including increased agency powers to profile and criminalize immigrants, mass raids, detentions, and deportations—possibly appeared less immediately pressing.

Academics’ responses hint at a more worrying reality. An open letter to the President signed by 43,000+ scholars, including prominent anthropologists, concludes:

“The unethical and discriminatory treatment of law-abiding, hard-working, and well-integrated immigrants fundamentally contravenes the founding principles of the United States.”

The qualifiers here are alarming and counterproductive. Racialized groups of people have been systematically criminalized, exploited for their labor, and marginalized in the United States since its founding. Terms like “law-abiding,” “hard-working,” and “well-integrated,” are furthermore malleable to pernicious ends, and frequently deployed by right-wing voices.

As scholars, teachers, and activists, we must refute, not echo, the “good” vs. “bad” immigrant rhetoric of this (and earlier) administrations. As anthropologists, we must reflect critically on governmental categorizations of people, not take them for granted. We must expose the xenophobic constructions at the heart of each policy statement. As Trump makes good on his promises, we must advocate for all immigrants—regardless of taxes paid, skill sets, or ascribed work ethics; regardless of faith, language, or family ties; regardless of records, status, or papers. Lines drawn in the sand around state-approved “deserving” immigrants will only fortify the foundations of future border walls.

#AnthReadIn at Georgetown

read-in-imageFollowing the call published by the anthropology magazine Savage Minds, my colleagues and I in the Women and Gender Studies Program at Georgetown University will host an #AnthReadIn event on Friday 17 February, 12.30-2pm.

We’ll be reading Chapter Nine from Hannah Arendt’s On Totalitarianism (which you can find here), alongside Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (which is available here).

Join the conversation on social media under #AnthReadIn.

Why Trump (Or, America In Fragments)

People want answers. On social media timelines, in newspapers and blogs, in private conversations, those who cannot understand how Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States are desperate to make sense of it all. Too many people are accepting easy answers. It was neoliberalism. It was misogyny. It was white supremacy. It was fear. It was Hillary. It was the media. It was the FBI. It was Facebook.

In truth, there is no single person, group, ideology, or media moment to “blame”. Ignore the thousand Think Pieces telling you otherwise. No one “let” this happen; there is not one “cause”. Desire for straightforward answers reveals only the depth of denial we face in the United States today. The voting public chose this. Across income levels, across numerous states. We chose this. That is how democratic society works. We are all complicit.

People are asking the wrong questions. “How did Donald Trump win marginally more support in three particular U.S. states?” “Why were pollsters wrong?” “Did Democrats choose the wrong candidate?” The question we are too afraid to ask is simple: “What is our society, such that Donald Trump could be President?” But this is the question we must ask as we plan the necessary fight back.

The answers, like the United States of America, can only be understood in fragments. Continue reading

Responsibility to respond to racism on campus

I teach at two schools in Washington, DC. One has taken recent action to stop celebrating the legacies of former slave traders, held a series of events and dialogues intended to open spaces to debate ongoing racial prejudice on campus, and elevated of African American Studies from Program to Department status. These moves are welcome, but ongoing efforts to inspire lasting cultural change are still required . The other institution has recently been the site of racist abuse on campus. Students are rightly outraged, and leading calls for meaningful action. The administration is responding, treading a similar path as other U.S. universities, by announcing plans for improved trainings for faculty, staff, admissions teams and students; improved support for relevant student services; and required courses on African American history for incoming undergraduates.

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Twitter coverage of a recent anti-racism rally at American University

As teachers, we must support these efforts and continue to make space in our classrooms for honest, open dialogues on pressing social issues, including but not limited to racism. We must respond visibly and vocally when members of our student body face discrimination, and fell let down by their institutions.

At a recent on campus rally calling on the administration to act definitively, a student held aloft a placard that read, “Silence is Violence.” This Open Letter to Students of Color At American University is intended to let our students know that we, the faculty, will not be silent. I, along with the other signatories, intend to carry this message into our classrooms and faculty meetings, taking tangible steps to making our campus welcoming to all.