Guest Lecturing at Swarthmore

I turned up at Swarthmore College on Saturday afternoon, just in time for my lecture workshop on “Regulating Bodies: Queerness, Immigration and the State.”

A live blog is here. I particularly wanted to move beyond talking about our lives in “intersections” and focus more on how the regulation of queer bodies relates to controls on immigration and how it is part of the same bio-power — in more simplified terms.

So I spoke about words that hurt, how certain immigrants have moved from undesirable to desirable (and sometimes back to undesirable) depending on what best serves the state interest, regulation of queer bodies interspersed with actions taken by (queer) undocumented youth today.

I also took the opportunity to address the privilege that comes with being an undocumented student in higher education or as part of a same-sex bi-national couple. These are increasingly desirable traits and it is becoming increasingly difficult (and unpopular) for the state to control our bodies by keeping us in legal limbo. The state of limbo can also be seen as a “waiting room” and when people in a waiting room are made to wait for too long, they realize that they have a common interest against the state, which is keeping them out. Sooner or later, the state has to make a carefully calculated decision on opening the gates and pacifying the loudest, as well as the most desirable occupants.

Stuck in limbo, unable to move forward or reverse course, what are you going to be loud about?

The students were absolutely wonderful and engaged, with really intelligent questions. I was also delighted to meet some parents who were showing support of their queer sons/daughters by attending the conference. And someone asked for an autograph — embarrassingly enough. At dinner with Swarthmore and Bryn Mawr students, we discussed ways in which we could make the colleges more open and accessible to undocumented youth. Then, it was time for me to come home and do homework.

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