Speaker Series: A. Naomi Paik

“Bans, Walls, Raids, Sanctuary: Immigration ‘Crises’ and Abolitionist Futures”

presented by Dr. A. Naomi Paik (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

October 21
3:00 PM (PST)

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.”

Naomi Paik is an associate professor of Asian American studies and IPRH-Mellon fellow in Legal Humanities (2019-2022) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is the author of 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). As a board member of the 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). Her most recent book, Bans, Walls, Raids, Sanctuary: Understanding U.S. Immigration for the 21st Century (forthcoming, May 2020, University of California Press), examines the long-developing criminalization of foreign-born people in the United States and the need for radical, abolitionist approaches to sanctuary. She is currently working on a book-length manuscript on the most capacious meaning of “sanctuary for all” and developing another on military outsourcing.