Lecture: A. Naomi Paik

Feb 3, 2020, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
East Pyne Hall, Room 010


Program in American Studies
Event Description


This talk starts with the apparent “crises” over immigration in the contemporary moment, marked by three signature executive orders authorized by the Trump Administration in its first week in office: the “Muslim Ban,” the U.S.-Mexico border wall, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids. By examining the long histories that have built a deeply rooted, robust foundation for these anti-immigrant attacks, the talk will discuss how the targeting of certain noncitizens is neither new, nor isolated, but reaches back to the settler colonial foundations of the United States and to the birth of immigration restrictions in the 19th century. The talk also traces the deep genealogies of sanctuary and abolitionist movements and raises the potential of combining these modes of organizing in addressing the demands to create “sanctuary everywhere” and “sanctuary for all.”


A. Naomi Paik is an associate professor of Asian American studies with appointments in the departments of gender and women’s studies and history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She published Rightlessness: Testimony and Redress in U.S. Prison Camps since World War II (UNC Press, 2016; winner, Best Book in History, AAAS 2018; runner-up, John Hope Franklin prize for best book in American Studies, ASA, 2017), and articles in Social Text, Radical History Review, Cultural Dynamics, Race & Class, e-misferica, Humanity, and the collection Guantánamo and American Empire. She is currently writing Bans, Walls, Raids, Sanctuary (University of California Press, forthcoming in May 2020), a short book on the criminalization of immigrants in the U.S. and radical sanctuary movements. As a board member of Radical History Review, she has co-edited three special issues of the journal — on “Militarism and Capitalism” (Winter 2019), “Radical Histories of Sanctuary” (Fall 2019), and “Policing, Justice, and the Radical Imagination” (Spring 2020). She is also developing projects on the meaning of “sanctuary for all,” and another on military outsourcing. She is the IPRH-Mellon Faculty Fellow in Legal Humanities (2019-22), working to build the legal humanities at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research and teaching interests include comparative ethnic studies; U.S. imperialism; U.S. militarism; social and cultural approaches to legal studies; transnational and women of color feminisms; carceral spaces; and labor, race, and migration.