The Contours of Black Citizenship in a Global Context
Jessica Swanston Baker (Music), Adom Getachew (Political Science), Yanilda María González (SSA)
This interdisciplinary project situates questions of black citizenship in a transnational and global context. Over the last two decades and particularly in the last five years, social movements in the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean, and South Africa have called attention to the limits of legal inclusion in contexts where histories of slavery and colonialism have persistently conceived of blackness as a marker of non-citizenship. The research team will examine how colonial and postcolonial states mark and define the boundaries of belonging and theorize the diverse practices citizens, activists, and artists employ to reimagine and rethink black citizenship. Understanding citizenship as legal entitlement to rights, as belonging, and as political, social, and cultural activity reveals the multiple terrains on which black citizenship is contested. Through multi-method and interdisciplinary analyses of vulnerability and resistance to state violence in Latin America, music and cultural practices in the Caribbean, and the ideologies of imperial belonging in Africa and its diaspora, the project challenges contemporary scholarly notions of citizenship and works toward decentering a U.S.-based and binary model of racial inquiry.
Evelyn Z. Brodkin (SSA), Staffan Höjer (University of Gothenburg, Sweden) Karen Nielsen Breidahl (Aalborg University, Denmark)
Mass migrations test the will and capacity of western democracies to “make asylum” in ways that protect human rights, provide the foundations for a new life, and incorporate refugees into host communities. This project probes the making of asylum, closely interrogating how asylum is made through the everyday practices of street-level organizations and how those organizations shape the lived experience of asylum-seekers and the formation of attitudes about democracy and the welfare state. It focuses on Sweden and Denmark, countries known for their humanitarian commitments and strong welfare state protections, yet challenged by a recent surge in asylum-seeking as millions have fled zones of conflict, violence, and persecution. In Scandinavian countries, as elsewhere in Europe, mass migration has produced a “refugee crisis,” provoking deep concerns about the incorporation of newcomers and fueling anti-immigrant and populist opposition. This project investigates the conflicted politics of asylum, developing a theoretical approach that links the macro-politics of the welfare state to the micro-politics of street-level organizations and the lived experience of asylum-seekers. It aims to open new scholarly avenues for the study of human rights, political institutions, and the welfare state and to provide insights into the asylum experience.
Article, UChicago News (February 12, 2018)