2021 Bissell-Heyd Public Research Event | Session 1: “The Indian Question in the United States”
Making the radical argument that the nation-state was born of colonialism, this talk calls us to rethink political violence and reimagine political community beyond majorities and minorities. Dr. Mamdani argues that the nation-state and the colonial state created each other. In case after case around the globe—from the New World to South Africa, Israel to Germany to Sudan—the colonial state and the nation-state have been mutually constructed through the politicization of a religious or ethnic majority at the expense of an equally manufactured minority. The model emerged in North America, where genocide and internment on reservations created both a permanent native underclass and the physical and ideological spaces in which new immigrant identities crystallized as a settler nation. In Europe, this template would be used by the Nazis to address the Jewish Question, and after the fall of the Third Reich, by the Allies to redraw the boundaries of Eastern Europe’s nation-states, cleansing them of their minorities. After Nuremberg the template was used to preserve the idea of the Jews as a separate nation. By establishing Israel through the minoritization of Palestinian Arabs, Zionist settlers followed the North American example. The result has been another cycle of violence. Speaker: Dr. Mahmood Mamdani Herbert Lehman Professor of Government Professor of Anthropology Columbia University
Survival of Indigenous and Communities of Color in Los Angeles During the Pandemic
In the U.S., the COVID-19 pandemic has made the disproportionate outcomes of health disparities among Indigenous and communities of color clear. To be Indigenous, Black, and Latinx marks you for death twice as much than that of whites. In Los Angeles County, one of the most populated counties in the US, it has now been ten months since city officials first declared quarantine on March 29, 2020. Nine months have passed since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. We have witnessed how people themselves have re-organized, strategized, copped, and suffered loved ones losses at an incredible rate never seen in recent times. The lack of affordable healthcare and cultural awareness of medical professionals, especially towards Indigenous Oaxacans, puts them at a higher risk of exposure, contracting, re-occurance, or dying from COVID at an alarming scale. Making matters worse, on Christmas Day, South LA and its major hospital were declared “on the edge of catastrophe” as it streams with patients (New York Times 2020). How is one of the most populated neighborhoods, in the most populous states, where Indigenous, Black, and Latina/os together make up an overwhelming 95% facing the challenges? This talk considers how Indigenous and communities of color, have been affected by the pandemic, and how they have collectively responded to each other when the US settler state continues to fail them. Speaker: Dr. Brenda Nicolas Assistant Professor Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies Loyola Marymount University
Histories of South African and American Sociology: Knowledge in the Service of Colonial Violence
2021 Bissell-Heyd Research Event: “Racisms in the United States” – Session 3: “The Interconnected Histories of South African and American Sociology: Knowledge in the Service of Colonial Violence South African sociology is a colonial discipline. As such, it was not born out of a desire to add to the general store of knowledge about human nature and social relations. Rather, its raison d’être was to produce knowledge in the service of apartheid. Therefore, the matrix of ideas and understandings that coalesced around the concept of ‘culture’ in South African sociology cannot readily be separated from the issue of cultural violence. Indeed, to review the history of South African sociology is to review the history of an idea—culture—deployed in the service of colonial violence. But where did the ideas about culture that were so central to the apartheid episteme come from? The genealogical exploration of South African sociology I undertake below argues that the ideas about culture that were the bedrock of the South African apartheid policy of ‘separate development’ took the shape that they did because of the strength of the connection between ‘scientific sociology’ in South Africa and the apartheid regime. South African sociology was not, however, a sui generis phenomenon. As an imperial episteme it traced its roots and borrowed many of its concepts about culture from American sociology, which was, itself, a product of American slavery. The goal of this essay, therefore, is to explain how the concept of ‘cultural difference’ in American sociology, which evolved out of the practical needs of transforming industrial and agrarian labor relations in the period following emancipation, captured the hearts and minds of the first generation of South African sociologists. Speaker: Dr. Zine Magubane Professor Department of Sociology Boston College
Book discussion on Here, There, and Elsewhere
Tahseen Shams discussed her brand-new book Here, There, and Elsewhere: The Making of Immigrant Identities in a Globalized World with David Scott FitzGerald (University of California San Diego), Peggy Levitt (Wellesley College), and Robert Smith (The Graduate Center, CUNY). Rhacel Salazar Parreñas (University of Southern California; the co-editor of the Globalization in Everyday Life series) moderated the event. Tahseen’s book breaks new ground by showing how immigrants are vectors of globalization who both produce and experience the interconnectedness of societies—not only the societies of origin and destination, but also, the societies in places beyond. It posits a new concept for thinking about these places that are neither the immigrants' homeland nor hostland—the "elsewhere." Drawing on rich ethnographic data, interviews, and analysis of the social media activities of South Asian Muslim Americans, Tahseen uncovers how different dimensions of the immigrants' ethnic and religious identities connect them to different elsewheres in places as far-ranging as the Middle East, Europe, and Africa.