Session Summary


Temitope Ogungbemi, McPherson University, Nigeria

“The Populist West: Critical subjectivity and the politics of counter-terrorism in Nigeria”

The upsurge of aggression and terrorism in post-colonial Africa continues to stimulate suspicion in the superordinate status of the colonialists and the imperialist politics of foreign interventions. In Nigeria, counter-terrorism measures to combat Boko Haram Islamist terrorist groups face daunting challenges imposed on the state by conditions in West-based interventions and politics of counter-terrorism. This development exposes the overarching subjectivity of the former colony under the imperial forces of the West in policy development and territorial control. Combining insights from Latin American populism and critical discourse analysis, foreign interventions in Nigerian counter-terrorism policies are qualitatively analyzed to establish how Boko Haram terrorism in the Northeast is discursively operationalized by the West to legitimize imperialism. Data for the study comprise a set of memoranda of understanding on security and counter-terrorism between Nigeria and foreign nations. The analysis unravels West imperialist politics and the strategic positioning of foreign interventions in the formation and formalization of new empire in Nigeria.

Mariam Durrani, Hamilton College

“Examining the Co-production of the “Imperial” University in Lahore and New York City”

In the U.S., Pakistani-origin Muslim college students experience the domestic front of the “War on Terror” including law enforcement infiltrating and surveilling their mosques and college campuses and everyday discrimination and harassment. In Pakistan, one frontline for the War, youth have suffered the effects of the ground War and have raised their voices in dissent to the state. Based on a transnational ethnography, this paper examines student experiences at two self-proclaimed “global” universities in Lahore and New York City to argue that the college diversity talk and neoliberal political economy expose the co-production of an “imperial” higher education context. This paper historicizes the co-production of the imperial university in each context as a linked project through War and earlier political relations between the U.S. and Pakistan. This paper shows how the War racializes students and their educational trajectories in both contexts as they aspire to be recognized and included in global knowledge economies.

Max Clayton, Yale University

“Empire’s Anxiety and Indigeneity: Recent American studies critiques of U.S. empire”

“Anxieties of Empire” appears as a theme in recent American studies scholarship alongside a web of related concepts aimed at interrogating the contours of U.S. empire. This paper analyzes how the theme of imperial anxieties and its conceptual partners have been recently deployed by scholars working on settler colonialism and indigenous history, and critical theory to question the stability, completeness, and future(s) of U.S. empire. The paper then clarifies what is taken to be the historical and political stakes of this reframing of U.S. empire: it underscores the persistence of indigenous nations and their legal claims to sovereignty; it deflates capitalism’s overconfidence and undermines its unquestionableness; and it opens up new political and ethical alternatives to imperial forms of governance.

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