2021 Bissell-Heyd Public Research Event: “Racisms in the United States” – Session 1: “The Indian Question in the United States”

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Thursday, March 11th, 2021

Thursday, March 11, 20211:00PM - 2:00PMOnline Event, Online Event
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2021 Bissell-Heyd Public Research Event:
“Racisms in the United States”

Event Info:
Perhaps in more pertinent ways than any other time in recent memory, the power of globalization and how it intersects with race is at full display. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that what happens in a faraway land does not stop at its borders but can produce domino effects, forceful enough to lock down almost the entire world. Immigrants, long been singled-out as disease carriers, have once again been blamed for the world’s pandemics. The coronavirus originating in China, this time xenophobia has turned its gaze on immigrants of Asian descent. At the same time, the world is witnessing massive protests against anti-Black racism in the U.S. echo across countries as far-flung as Canada, France, Great Britain, India and Ethiopia, showing that such domino effects are not just produced as a result of once-in- a-lifetime epidemiological crises but also because of sociopolitical dynamics that have long percolated in our societies. These events highlight how the age-old colour line that still divides an “us” from a “them” are challenging America’s identity as a nation.

This webinar series hosts a panel of distinguished scholars to situate the ongoing conversations on race, migration, and nationalism in today’s global context to discuss how racisms—such as, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-immigrant sentiments, anti-Blackness, and settler colonialisms—all work together to produce systemic racial disparities in the United States and abroad. The event is open for free to the public. Please register to receive a Zoom link for each session.

Session 1 Theme: Racisms in the United States

Title of Presentation: “The Indian Question in the United States”

Making the radical argument that the nation-state was born of colonialism, this talk calls us to rethink political violence and reimagine political community beyond majorities and minorities. Dr. Mamdani argues that the nation-state and the colonial state created each other. In case after case around the globe—from the New World to South Africa, Israel to Germany to Sudan—the colonial state and the nation-state have been mutually constructed through the politicization of a religious or ethnic majority at the expense of an equally manufactured minority. The model emerged in North America, where genocide and internment on reservations created both a permanent native underclass and the physical and ideological spaces in which new immigrant identities crystallized as a settler nation. In Europe, this template would be used by the Nazis to address the Jewish Question, and after the fall of the Third Reich, by the Allies to redraw the boundaries of Eastern Europe’s nation-states, cleansing them of their minorities. After Nuremberg the template was used to preserve the idea of the Jews as a separate nation. By establishing Israel through the minoritization of Palestinian Arabs, Zionist settlers followed the North American example. The result has been another cycle of violence.

Speaker Bio:
Dr. Mahmood Mamdani is the Herbert Lehman Professor of Government at Columbia University. He received his PhD from Harvard University in 1974 and specializes in the study of African history and politics. His works explore the intersection between politics and culture, a comparative study of colonialism since 1452, the history of civil war and genocide in Africa, the Cold War and the War on Terror, and the history and theory of human rights. He has authored several ground-breaking books including Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror, and Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War and the Roots of Terror. His new book, from Harvard University Press, is titled Neither Settler nor Native: The Making and Unmaking of Permanent Minorities.


Mio Otsuka


Mahmood Mamdani
Herbert Lehman Professor of Government, Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University

Tahseen Shams
Assistant Professor of Sociology, 2020-21 Bissell-Heyd Research Fellow, Centre for the Study of the United States, University of Toronto

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