Graduate Student Conference

Politics of Movement: Racialization, Religion, Migration April 5-6, 2018
Northwestern University

Keynote speaker: Darryl Li, University of Chicago

Whether discussing the management of refugees by nation-states, Brexit, the ever-expanding carceral state, the fugitivity of unarmed Black bodies captured on film fleeing the police, or the organized assemblage of citizens protesting the neoliberal regimes, one could argue that the problem of movement is one of the most pressing themes of the 21st century.

Art by Wangechi MutuIn the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump and the Supreme Court’s reinstatement of the international travel ban, questions about religion, race, and migration have moved center stage. The racialization of Islam and Islamophobia have become transnational phenomena in the politics of secular nation-states. Elsewhere, the (necro)political aftermath of Hurricane Maria and the mudslides in Sierra Leone have put into relief the politics of mobility when natural disasters displace thousands. 

The rise of carceral regimes and police states raise questions about the afterlives of slavery and the continual confinements that render Black Life precarious. Taken together, these challenges invoke new and important questions about national security, immigration policy, the logic of coloniality, anti-Black violence, secular law, border patrol, and sovereignty.

The Politics of Movement: Racialization, Religion, and Migration graduate conference brought students and faculty together to facilitate an interdisciplinary exploration of the multiple ways of theorizing the politics of movement—broadly defined in the US and abroad. This not only includes various forms of mobility—migration, diasporas, refugees, settlements, travels, transportations, etc.—but also the often racialized political techniques that restrict, contain, indoctrinate, limit, manage, or move people to create various forms of im/mobility—dislocation/removal, borders, prisons and confinements, ghettos and reservations, militaries and policing, colonies and camps, etc.

Conference organizers

  • James Howard Hill, Jr. is a PhD student in religious studies at Northwestern University. Before coming to Northwestern, he earned an MTS in Social Ethics (Moral Theology) and Culture from Southern Methodist University where he graduated summa cum laude. His research explores the intersection of religion, necropolitics, race, and colonialism in the Americas and throughout Atlantic geographies (Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas). His work also engages the theme of Anticolonialism in African American Religious History, the intersection of religion and retributive justice in the American Imaginary, and Black Political Theology.

  • Hafsa Oubou is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at Northwestern University. In 2006, she obtained a BA degree in English linguistics from Ibn Zohr University in Agadir, Morocco, and in 2009, an MA degree in communication studies from Cadi Ayyad University in Marrakech, Morocco. In spring 2015, she earned an MA in Middle Eastern and North African Studies from the University of Arizona. Oubou is interested in Moroccan-Belgian Shi‘a, Islam in Belgium, state-subject relations, the making of subject-citizens, secularism, education, and diaspora.

  • Matt Smith is a PhD student in religious studies at Northwestern University. Before coming to Northwestern, Matt earned his master's degree from Princeton Seminary and his bachelor's from Anderson University. His research focuses on the study of race and religion in the Americas, with specific focus on Anglo-American Protestantism and its intersections with white imperial formations during the mid-19th to the early 20th century. Areas of interests: U.S. empire, race and diaspora, gender/sexuality, racial and settler colonialism, the coloniality of secularism, transnational Christianity, and critical white studies.

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