In the past year and a half, the world has witnessed the convergence of multiple crises encompassing the social, economic, political, and ecological. These interconnected crises have been inflected and amplified by the pressures of a deadly global pandemic, itself accelerated by the convergence of capitalism, racism, and climate change. Though the events of the recent past have been exceptionalized in popular and academic discourse, they are by no means novel or unprecedented; they are manifestations of long-standing and deeply entangled social dynamics that have prominently shaped world order. What is indeed striking about the happenings of 2020 and beyond is the convergence of multiple crises, and creative modes of political response, unprecedented in their global scale, that have emerged from their collision. Experienced far and wide, they have exceeded the bounds of the localized event, reverberating across the world and triggering shared affective responses, coupled with demonstrations of collective solidarity. The collective sense in which the multiple crises of 2020 and beyond have been felt and experienced disrupts the conventional mode of social inquiry which seeks to analyze phenomena as bounded singularities, existing in isolation of other phenomena, and as products of separate, discrete, and exclusively social structures, challenging us to think beyond compartmentalizing frames. 

The Program in Racism, Immigration, and Citizenship will host its first Graduate Student Symposium to shed light on the interconnections between phenomena that have historically shaped the modern global order and continue to exert force in the present. Emphasizing the role of racism within these processes and their multiple interconnections, we will create space to analyze social, political, and ecological violence holistically and collectively. Our goal is to map out dense webs of relation through which social phenomena emerge to resist isolationist modes of social analysis and to conceive how emergent modes of thought might open up possibilities for solidarity across difference.  

We invite papers that shed light on the entanglement between racism and other forms of social-ecological violence. Papers might conceptualize such interconnectedness through various theoretical and empirical approaches in the social sciences and humanities, including but not limited to, historical and new materialisms, postcolonial studies and critical international relations, comparative racial politics, global history, and international political economy. Papers need not address the events witnessed in 2020/21 but should illuminate possibilities of conceptualizing events as emergent from overlapping processes. Papers should consider how their theoretical conceptualizations might lead to forms of solidarity in the present. 

We are currently planning two major themes for these papers, which correspond to organizing themes for RIC’s current work more generally: 1) Comparative Racialization and Anti-Racist Solidarities and 2) Critical Carceral Studies and Abolition Without Borders. 

In its first iteration, the symposium seeks to bring together junior and senior scholars from across Hopkins focusing on racism, political economy, ecology, and gender and sexuality to develop a multidimensional understanding of racial politics and solidaristic possibilities across sites of oppression. We hope to build a multidisciplinary coalition of scholars to advance and enrich the study of social justice, broadly construed, at Hopkins. In addition to building community among graduate students working on topics of social justice at Hopkins, this symposium offers participants the opportunity to receive feedback on their work from faculty members outside their primary fields. Each selected student paper will be discussed by a faculty member affiliated with RIC. Selected participants are expected to attend the entire symposium. 

Symposium Schedule

Panel 1 (8:00am–10:00am) Security’s Fractures 

  • Sabrina Axster, “Arresting Movement: The Political Economy of Immigration Detention” (Political Science) 
  • Quinn Lester, “Detecting the Asian Cop: Policing and the Incorporation of Asian Americans into  American Empire” (Political Science) 
  • Shahab Ahmed, “Logics of Late Colonial Indirect Rule and the NATO Intervention in Afghanistan” (Political Science) 

Discussant: Stuart Schrader (Center for Africana Studies, RIC) 

Break (10:00am–10:30am) 

Panel 2 (10:30am–12:30pm) Historicizing the Colonial Present 

  • Nandini Dey, “The ‘Alien’ and the Empire: Foreigners, Undesirables, and the Construction of the Documentary Regime” (Political Science) 
  • Alaa Amr Saad, “Cavities in Labor Historiographies of Egypt: Solidities and Solidarities Enduring with Care” (Anthropology) 
  • Ronay Bakan, “Colonialism without Empire: Persistence of Colonial Practices in the Age of Nation States” (Political Science) 

Discussant: H. Yumi Kim (History)  

Lunch Break (12:30pm–1:45pm) 

Panel 3 (1:45pm–3:45pm) Subaltern Authoritarianisms 

  • Steph Saxton, “The Political Development of the Baltimore Police Department 1853 to 1863” (Political Science) 
  • Sam Agarwal, “Hindutva in Hostile Terrain: How the BJP Recruits Dalits in Kerala, India” (Sociology) 
  • Kendra Grissom, “The Making of An American Patriot: The Political Career of Mrs. Julia Clarice Brown, 1947 – 1970” (History) 

Discussant: Minkah Makalani (Center for Africana Studies, History)