The Paradox of Rights

Called “meticulous” by Paul Gilroy, A. Naomi Paik’s (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) Rightlessness: Testimony and Redress in US Prison Camps since World War II (UNC Press, 2016) examines the history of US-maintained prison camps and the “rightless” populations that they confine. From the campaign for redress led by Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II to appeals by “enemy combatants” being held at Guantánamo’s Camp Delta, Paik demonstrates how rightless populations protest US state violence. Sunaina Maira’s (University of California, Davis) The 9/11 Generation: Youth, Rights, and Solidarity in the War on Terror (NYU Press, 2016) “is an ethnography with teeth—gripping and urgent” (Vijay Prashad). Maira explores how Afghan American, Arab American, and South Asian American youth engage with the “political,” even while they are under constant scrutiny and surveillance. Both works reveal the possibilities and pitfalls of rights-based organizing and discourse. Moderated by Manijeh Moradian (Visiting Scholar, Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at NYU).

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