Critical Ethnic Studies and the Future of Genocide:
Settler Colonialism/Heteropatriarchy/White Supremacy
A Major Conference
March 10-12, 2011
University of California, Riverside
Ethnic studies scholarship has laid the crucial foundation for analyzing the intersections of racism, colonialism, immigration, and slavery within the United States context. Yet it has become clear that ethnic studies paradigms have become entrapped within, and sometimes indistinguishable from, the discourse and mandate of liberal multiculturalism, which relies on a politics of identity representation diluted and domesticated by nation-building and capitalist imperatives. Interrogating the strictures in which ethnic studies finds itself today, this conference calls for the development of critical ethnic studies. Far from advocating the peremptory dismissal of identity, this conference seeks to structure inquiry around the logics of white supremacy, settler colonialism, capitalism, and heteropatriarchy in order to expand the scope of ethnic studies. An interdisciplinary or even un-disciplinary formation, critical ethnic studies engages with the logics that structure society in its entirety.
As ethnic studies has become more legitimized within the academy, it has frequently done so by distancing itself from the very social movements that helped to launch ethnic studies in the first place. Irrefutable as the evidence is of the university's enmeshment with governmental and corporate structures, the trend in ethnic studies has been to neutralize the university rather than to interrogate it as a site that transforms ideas into ideology. While this conference does not propose to romanticize these movements or to prescribe a specific relationship that academics should have with them, we seek to call into question the emphasis on professionalization within ethnic studies and the concomitant refusal to interrogate the politics of the academic industrial complex or to engage with larger movements for social transformation.