Rightlessness: Hunger Strikes, Force-feeding, and testimony at Guantánamo

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Friday, December 1st, 2017

Friday, December 1, 20173:00PM - 5:00PMSidney Smith Hall
100 St. George Street, Room 2125
University of Toronto
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CSUS and F. Ross Johnson Distinguished Speaker Series


A. Naomi Paik will address themes raised in her new book, Rightlessness: Testimony and Redress in U.S. Prison Camps Since World War II, which grapples with the history of U.S. prison camps that have confined people outside the boundaries of legal and civil rights. Removed from the social and political communities that would guarantee fundamental legal protections, these detainees are effectively rightless, stripped of the right even to have rights. Specifically, this talk will focus on both the bodily practices of and discourses surrounding prisoner practices of self-harm and the U.S. state’s efforts to preserve life—in particular, its force-feeding of hunger strikers at the current Guantánamo camp. By interpreting the testimonies of hunger strikers, Paik examines the prisoner body as a site of power and struggle waged between the U.S. state and the prisoners, who attempt to seize their own form of habeas corpus, taking their bodies back from the camp regime, by inflicting self-harm.

A. Naomi Paik is assistant professor of Asian American studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her research and teaching interests include Asian American and comparative ethnic studies; U.S. imperialism; social and cultural approaches to legal studies; transnational and women of color feminisms; carceral spaces; and labor, race, and migration. Her manuscript, “Rightlessness: Testimonies from the Camp,” (UNC Press, 2016), reads testimonial narratives of subjects rendered rightless by the U.S. state through their imprisonment in camps. She has published articles on the indefinite detention of HIV-positive Haitian refugees at Guantánamo in Social Text and Radical History Review. She has also published on post-September 11th attacks on academic freedom, particularly on postcolonial studies, in Cultural Dynamics. She earned her doctorate in American studies from Yale University, and held the Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow of Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and the Early Career Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Humanities Center of the University of Pittsburgh.



Stella Kyriakakis


A. Naomi Paik
Assistant Professor, Asian American Studies, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Main Sponsor

Centre for the Study of the United States


Department of Geography & Planning, University of Toronto

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