A Somerville Saturday Seminar

This Saturday I had the opportunity to attend a small "seminar" with Prof. Somerville in which we discussed her work on immigration, birthright citizenship, naturalization and thinking through how queer theory may be a useful mode of inquiry. For the seminar we read Somerville's 2005 article "Notes Toward a Queer History of Naturalization" that appeared in American Quarterly, Ayelet Shachar & Ran Hirschl 2007 piece, "Citizenship as Inherited Property," from Political Theory as well as Mae Ngai's 2007, "Birthright Citizenship and the Alien Citizen," from the Fordham Law Review. Although I was unable to attend Prof. Somerville's talk the day before, I had just read Queering the Colorline for my Queer/ing Ethics class with Prof. Puotinen, I was very excited about putting Prof. Somerville's work in conversation with Ngai, Shachar & Hirschl as well as with other Chicana/o Studies scholarship around migration. What was most interesting for me was the conversation of language (knowledge production?) and power in how we define "productive citizens." This became even more urgent after reading Mae Ngai's work on "perpetual foreigners" and what she terms the "alien citizen." This of course led me to question the significance on the body (using Moraga's "theory of the flesh") specifically how particular bodies are situated within systems and state apparatuses. I began to question, if "citizenship," as it is understood by the state, was really what needed queering? Is the answer to "renounce" citizenship? What would migrants say to this? How much do race, class, genders and sexualities affect the "forced intimacies" that particular bodies need to have with the state? If certain bodies are considered "perpetual aliens" what is the usefulness of debating around citizenship and naturalization? What about those bodies that regardless of birthright citizenship and/or naturalization are still outside the national imaginary of what a "proper" citizen subject should look like, love like, live like, be like? Our Saturday seminar with Prof. Somerville made me think of the way that bodies are raced, classed, gendered, etc and subsequently implicated/hailed into structures that interpolate with the intention of policing and containing them. Our discussions were intense and thought provoking and incredibly useful for me to begin thinking about my research questions.

-reina rodríguez


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This page contains a single entry by reina published on March 2, 2011 9:00 PM.

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