Case studies of refugee populations, transnational migrants, displaced indigenous peoples, and marginalised minority communities will be used to explore broader tensions between universal human rights and locally and nationally defined political subjectivities both within and between nation-states.
This panel seeks to open up a broadly comparative discussion of the tensions between human rights based on universalist notions of the dignity of human subjectivities and the legal, civil, and political rights that specific nation-states claim to provide for citizens, denizens, residents (both documented and undocumented), and visitors. These tensions are most clearly expressed in contexts of transnational migrations, such as refugees fleeing war zones or workers and their families seeking to escape conditions of economic destitution, gang violence, or state-sponsored terror. These same tensions are also at work in domestic political struggles of indigenous and other minority groups who are impoverished or otherwise disenfranchised within nation-states. Both transnational migrations and domestic political engagements of 'others' who are stereotyped only because of their lifestyles are met with a rising backlash of cultural fundamentalism, nativism, and hyper-nationalist policies of cultural heritage and ethnic purity promoting new forms of exclusion. The organizers of this session seek to gather scholars with specialized knowledge of contemporary engagements and counter-movements that demonstrate how local communities' social networks are creating new political and interpretive public spaces in motion as they negotiate the discrepancies and indeterminacies of local, regional, national, and international political-legal systems. Case studies for the session could include but are not limited to: refugee populations fleeing from political oppression and/or economic deprivation; transnational migrants and other ethnic minorities fighting against institutionalized racism or hyper-nationalist policies; indigenous communities facing invasions of their lands by settler colonists, hydroelectric dam-building, or other destructive programs.