Native/Immigrant/Refugee: Crossings In A Transnational World

Native/Immigrant/Refugee: Crossings in a Transnational World, organized by Beth Piatote (Native American Studies) and Leti Volpp (Law), explores the interrelationships of the categories “native,” “immigrant,” and “refugee” at a time of tightening borders.  Refugees, immigrants, and natives—whether indigenous persons or not—are typically constructed as separate categories, and thus studied in isolation from one another.  But each term is entangled with the others.  These identities can serve as the basis of claims and entitlements, or be used to cast persons outside borders of belonging.  Our key questions look to the interrelated legal and cultural construction of these three groups.  How has immigration law understood refugees as an exception? How has immigration law understood native peoples?  How have native nations policed borders, membership, and territorial presence of non-members? And how do cultural forms and practices, from literary works to indigenous drum circles welcoming refugees at the airport, reflect distinct epistemologies, experiences, and political claims that confound or confirm these legal understandings?   Our group will present speakers whose interdisciplinary research helps guide understanding of the complex and consequential nature of these categories.