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Cornell University

Reimagining Citizenship Speaker Series

A public seminar series for any person, any subject, anywhere.

Seminar Speakers and Topics

Migrations Reimagining Citizenship: A Speaker Series

Throughout the semester, we are hosting scholars, writers, and artists whose work interrogates the limits and possibilities of legal, social, and cultural belonging. Through book talks, roundtables, and presentations, we consider how multidisciplinary, multi-species approaches to the study of migration open up new understandings of citizenship, borders, and social transformation. 

Prospects for Immigration Reform during the Biden Administration

  • February 11, 12 p.m. (EST)
  • Jorge Lima, Vice President of Immigration at Stand Together
  • Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow and Director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute
  • Kerri Talbot, Director of Federal Advocacy at Immigration Hub
  • Moderator: Steve Yale-Loehr, Professor of Immigration Law Practice at Cornell Law School and Co-Director, Asylum and Convention Against Torture Appellate Clinic

The Biden administration has promised to undo the damage to immigration caused by the Trump administration. And the new administration has many competing priorities, including the coronavirus pandemic, the economy, and climate change. In this first event in our Reimagining Citizenship series, what can the Biden administration realistically achieve to fix our broken immigration system and promote pathways to citizenship? What will it tackle first, and why? Cornell Law School professor Steve Yale-Loehr will moderate a panel discussion with three leading immigration experts.

BirdCast: Perspectives on Migration Monitoring in the Era of Big Data

  • February 18, 12 p.m. (EST)
  • Andrew Farnsworth, Senior Research Associate, Center for Avian Population Studies, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
  • Moderator: Amanda Rodewald, Garvin Professor and Senior Director of the Center for Avian Population Studies, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Department of Natural Resources & the Environment 

Birds represent dynamic and global communities, and recent trends in methods and analyses showcase what may be the future of bird migration research and conservation to study birds' complex roles in terrestrial, aerial, and aquatic systems. In the age of big data and observation, the potential of what remains for us to learn is inspiring. Researcher Andrew Farnsworth will join Amanda Rodewald in conversation about how we can use data collected by citizen scientists and the U.S. weather surveillance radar network to monitor and predict bird migration. This work is part of BirdCast, a collaborative project that leverages the expertise of computer scientists and ornithologists to harness the power of big data to study movements of birds.

Genetic Afterlives by Noah Tamarkin: A Book Launch Roundtable

  • February 26, 1 p.m. (EST)
  • Noah Tamarkin, Author of Genetic Afterlives, Cornell University
  • Yulia Egorova, Durham University
  • Jonathan Marks, UNC Charlotte
  • Karen-Sue Taussig, University of Minnesota
  • Rayna Rapp, New York University
  • Casey Golomski, University of New Hampshire
  • J. Lorand Matory, Duke University
  • Kimberly Arkin, Boston University
  • Jonathan Boyarin, Cornell University
  • Moderator: Juno Parreñas, Cornell University

In Genetic Afterlives: Black Jewish Indigeneity in South Africa, Noah Tamarkin considers new ways to think about belonging that can acknowledge the importance of historical and sacred ties to land without valorizing autochthony, borders, or other technologies of exclusion. 

Tamarkin will join a panel of anthropology professors from around the country to discuss his recently published book, which analyzes the Lemba people of South Africa and illustrates how they have given their own meanings to the results of DNA tests and employed them to manage competing claims of Jewish ethnic and religious identity, African indigeneity, and South African citizenship.

Pursuing Citizenship in the Enforcement Era: In Conversation with Ming Hsu Chen

  • March 5, 12 p.m. (EST) 
  • Ming Hsu Chen, Faculty Director of the Immigration and Citizenship Law Program, Associate Professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder Law School
  • Moderator: Shannon Gleeson, Associate Professor at the Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Co-chair of the Migrations initiative task force 

Pursuing Citizenship in the Enforcement Era by Ming Hsu Chen provides readers with the everyday perspectives of immigrants on what it is like to try to integrate into American society during a time when immigration policy is focused on enforcement and exclusion. The law says that everyone who is not a citizen is an alien, but the social reality is more complicated. Chen will join Migrations taskforce co-chair Shannon Gleeson in conversation to discuss the citizen/alien binary, theories of citizenship, and how to construct pathways to citizenship that enhance both formal and substantive equality of immigrants.

The Undocumented Americans: In Conversation with Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

  • April 1, 12 p.m. (EST)
  • Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, Author of The Undocumented Americans
  • Moderator: Jaclyn Kelley-Widmer, Associate Clinical Professor of Law at Cornell Law School

At a time when the fabled American Dream is turning into a nightmare for so many, Karla Cornejo Villavicencio's The Undocumented Americans is an incandescent and fearless indictment against the dark systemic forces of racism and immigration injustice. Her works seek to look closely at the individuals experiencing life as undocumented people in the United States in a book that is part memoir, part journalism, part testimonial. She will join us to speak about her book, the stories she has heard firsthand, and her own experiences as an undocumented writer. 

Unwalling Citizenship: Building Solidarity, Not Walls

  • April 9, 12 p.m.
  • Fonna Forman, Associate Professor of Political Theory at University of California, San Diego, and Director of the UCSD Center on Global Justice
  • Teddy Cruz, Professor of Public Culture and Urbanization at the University of California, San Diego
  • Moderator: Patchen Markell, Associate Professor of Government at Cornell University
  • Moderator: Jessica Levin Martinez, Richard J. Schwartz Director of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art

In our increasingly walled world, where anti-immigrant sentiment is broadly increasing, can the idea of citizenship be recuperated for more emancipatory and inclusive democratic agendas? Join us in a conversation with researchers from the University of California, San Diego, as they discuss their work on "citizenship culture" at the U.S.-Mexico border and the network of civic spaces they have co-developed with border communities to cultivate regional and global solidarities.