11-3-2011 Joel Olson

Presentation Archives

Academic Year 2011-2012

Co-Sponsored by the Center for Interpretive and Qualitative Research and Dr. George Yancy's Critical Race Theory Speaker Series


External Speaker:  Nov. 3 and 4  (Thurs. and Friday), 2011, Duquesne University.

Public Talk: Thurs, Nov. 3, 2011, 7:30-9:30, Room 719 Fisher Hall, Duquesne University. 

Title: "Undocumented People and the Radical Disinterest in (White) Citizenship"

Speaker: Dr. Joel Olson, Politics and International Affairs, Northern Arizona University

Bio: Joel Olson is Associate Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University and the author of The Abolition of White Democracy (University of Minnesota Press, 2004).  He is also a member of the Repeal Coalition, a grassroots group seeking the repeal of all anti-immigrant laws in Arizona and that fights for the freedom of all people to live, love, and work wherever they please.  He is currently writing a book on extremism in the American political tradition.

Abstract: White support for Arizona's notorious anti-immigrant Law SB 1070 is in part an effort to preserve the privileges of white citizenship amidst a global economy and recession.  Undocumented people in Arizona, however, are not very interested in citizenship.  Instead, they want the freedom to live, love, and work wherever they please.  This radical disinterest in citizenship has potential significance for race in the United States.  While an essential component of assimilating into U.S. citizenship for previous immigrants was to be identified as "white," the struggle today to "live, love, and work wherever you please" suggests the possibility of a world without white citizenship.  The hope for a more democratic society free of racial discrimination, then, may lie in part in the struggles of undocumented people.

Symposium:  Friday, Nov. 4, 2011, 10:00-12:00 noon., Room 109 Student Union, Duquesne University.

Title: The Democratic Uses of Manichaeism

Abstract:  Manichaeism is not inherently fundamentalist, or anti-democratic.  Rather it can be a useful and sometimes necessary part of a radical democratic politics when it resists creating pure categories of friends and enemies and folds an ethos of generosity into an either/or conflict.  Existing agonistic theories of democracy either tend to resist Manichean conflict as fundamentalist or ignore practices of critical receptivity, presumptively regarding them as part of "police."   But a friends/eds/enemies worldview actually constructs a three-cornered fight: friends, enemies, and a "moderate" middle, in which the objective is to win the middle over to one's side.  When one expresses generosity toward this middle, even while excoriating their moderation, one enables a similar attitude toward the enemy.  Such generosity enables a Manichaeism that rejects moderation and pragmatism but that also refuses purity, fundamentalism, and the demonization of one's enemy.  What uses might such a politics have for today?

All interested faculty, graduate students, and other parties are invited.  Refreshments will be served.