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Return of the Unfit: A Gathering to Locate, Challenge, & Exorcise Our Eugenic Ghosts

From mass sterilization to mass incarceration; quota-based immigration restrictions to a regime of border militarization—how do the dubious hierarchies of ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, and ability, greatly shaped by early 20th century eugenics research, continue to be re-crafted and re-deployed?

Artists, activists, and academics join forces to trace the lineages of American nativism, racism, and ableism through readings, performance, music, and analysis. Featuring scholar Awam Amkpa (NYU Department of Social & Cultural Analysis), poet and activist Sonia Guinansaca (New York State Youth Leadership Council and CultureStrike), historian and lawyer Paul A. Lombardo (Georgia State University), author and activist N. Ordover (American Eugenics: Race, Queer Anatomy, and the Science of Nationalism), writer Tommy “Teebs” Pico (absentMINDR), social justice activist and expert Loretta J. Ross (co-founder, SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective), scholar Dean Saranillio (NYU Department of Social & Cultural Analysis), composer and producer Sxip Shirey, and musician and educator/activist Sonny Singh (Red Baraat).

RSVP below. This location is accessible and ASL interpreters will be available.

A project by the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU, Haunted Files consists of a series of installations and public programs, as well as an online space.

Awam Amkpa is Associate Professor of Drama and Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU. He is author of Theatre and Postcolonial Desires (Routledge, 2003). He is director of film documentaries and curator of photographic exhibitions and film festivals. Amkpa has written several articles on representations in Africa and its diasporas, representations, and modernisms in theatre, postcolonial theatre, and Black Atlantic films. He received his PhD from University of Bristol.

Sonia headshotSonia Guinansaca was born in Ecuador, and at the age of 5 migrated to the United States to reunite with her parents in New York. Since 2007, Guinansaca has been public about her status as an undocumented immigrant. In 2008, she joined the New York State Youth Leadership Council (NYSYLC), the first and only undocumented youth led organization in NY, where she currently serves as a Board Member. Sonia has since participated in the second recorded civil disobedience action done by undocumented youth and in a 10-day hunger strike for the Dream Act. The poet and activist also attempted to infiltrate an Alabama detention center and coordinated campaigns to end the deportation of undocumented people, among other actions in the immigrant rights movement. In 2011, Guinansaca launched the Dreaming in Ink creative writing workshop for undocumented youth and performance spaces known as UndocuMic’s.  She is an undocumented, queer poet whose poetry has been featured at La Mama Gallery, El Museo del Barrio, The Nuyorican Poets Cafe, 2014’s NY Poetry Festival, Creative WildFire, La Casa Azul Bookstore, and the soon to be released anthology Home in Time of Displacement.


web portraitPaul A. Lombardo is a lawyer and historian best known for his scholarship on the American eugenics movement. His books include Three Generations, No Imbeciles: Eugenics, the Supreme Court and Buck v. Bell (2008), and A Century of Eugenics in America: From the Indiana Experiment to the Human Genome Era (2010). Lombardo advised the Cold Spring Harbor (NY) Laboratory panel that assembled the digital Image Archive on American Eugenics Movement and was a contributor to the U.S. Memorial Holocaust Museum exhibit, Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race. Lombardo serves as a Senior Advisor to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues and holds the Bobby Lee Cook Chair as Professor of Law at Georgia State University in Atlanta. From 1990 to 2006 he was a faculty member in the Schools of Law and Medicine at the University of Virginia, where he received both his Ph.D. and J.D. degrees.


N. Ordover is the author of American Eugenics: Race, Queer Anatomy, and the Science of Nationalism (University of Minnesota Press) which focuses on the convergence of medical, judicial, and public policy discourses that left marginalized communities and populations (immigrants, people of color, poor women, LGBTQ people, people living with HIV/AIDS, people with disabilities, and people receiving state assistance) vulnerable to eugenics for the better part of the twentieth century and explores the ways in which this legacy continues to inform economic and health care policies. Ordover has worked in a variety of settings on HIV/AIDS, immigration, detention, and criminal justice policy and on racial and economic justice, gender equity, legal, welfare, housing, labor, reproductive rights, and LGBTQ issues. In 2006, Ordover founded the Coalition to Lift the Bar, which lead the successful effort to overturn the US immigration ban on people with HIV. Ordover is a member of the Queer Migration Research Network and served on the International Task Team on HIV-Related Travel Restrictions, convened by UNAIDS and concerned with issues relating to the human rights, public health, and economic impacts of HIV-entry bars on immigrants, migrants, refugees, asylees, detainees, and other mobile populations.


authorpicTommy “Teebs” Pico is the author of absentMINDR (VERBALVISUAL, 2014)—the first chapbook APP published for iOS mobile/tablet devices—was a Queer/Art/Mentors inaugural fellow, 2013 Lambda Literary fellow in poetry, and has poems in BOMB, Guernica, and [PANK]. Originally from the Viejas Indian reservation of the Kumeyaay nation, he now lives in Brooklyn.





Loretta Ross (Press Photo New Scan)Loretta J. Ross was a co-founder and the National Coordinator of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective from 2005-2012, a national network founded in 1997 of women of color and allied organizations headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. As part of a four-decade history in social justice activism, Loretta is an expert on women’s issues, hate groups, racism and intolerance, human rights, and violence against women. Ross has appeared on CNN, BET, Lead Story, Good Morning America, and The Charlie Rose Show. She has been quoted as an expert in the New York Times, Time Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and many other newspapers and magazines. She is a member of the Women’s Media Center’s Progressive Women’s Voices. She is one of the creators of the theory of “Reproductive Justice” developed by African American women in 1994 following the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt. She is a nationally-recognized trainer on using the transformative power of Reproductive Justice to build a Human Rights movement. She is the co-author of the award-winning Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organize for Reproductive Justice (South End Press, 2004), written with Jael Silliman, Marlene Gerber Fried, and Elena Gutiérrez, and author of “The Color of Choice” chapter in Incite! Women of Color Against Violence (2006). She has written extensively on the history of African American women and reproductive justice activism. She is a graduate of Agnes Scott College and holds honorary doctorate degrees from Arcadia University and Smith College. She is a mother, grandmother, and a great-grandmother.

Dean SaranillioDean Saranillio is an Assistant Professor of Asian/Pacific/American studies in the department of Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU. He is currently working on a manuscript titled Unsustainable Empire: Hawai‘i Statehood and the Liberal Politics of Empire Building, that situates the admission of Hawai‘i as a US state at the crossroads of US empire, where settler state formation in North America and US imperialist expansion into Asia and Oceania convene.




Sxip ShireySxip Shirey is a composer and producer based in Brooklyn, New York. He is currently the composer and music director for the high energy  international touring circus, dance and physical arts show LIMBO. Shirey has performed around the world, from presenting 3 solo performances at TED,  being the support act NS MC with the Dresden Dolls, touring across Europe with The Luminescent Orchestrii,  composing music for the Daredevil Opera House at the Sydney Opera House, performing at The English National Opera’s John Cage celebration “Musicircus” and more, but he always lands back in New York City to play underground parties in Brooklyn (Rubulad and Gemini & Scorpio). His work utilizes found objects, traditional instruments, computers and re-imaged instruments such as Industrial Flutes, Bullhorn Harmonicas, Regurgitated Music Box, Triple Extended Pennywhistles, Miniature Hand Bell Choir, Obnoxiophone, Glass Bowls With Red Marbles, and a clutch of curious objects. He also writes a great RnB tune. www.sxipshirey.com


IMG_3844_3Sonny Singh is a musician, educator, and writer based in Brooklyn, New York. He is a trumpet player, dhol player, and vocalist and has been a member of the acclaimed bhangra brass band Red Baraat since its inception in 2008. The New York Times has described Red Baraat as a “Brooklyn brass band that looks to South Asia, pumping out Bollywood tunes and Sufi songs with a crackling beat (from the two headed dhol drum) and the muscle of horns blasting in unison, putting some New York bluster atop faraway roots.” From 2003-2008, Sonny played in the political rock band Outernational, which he co-founded, deemed a “world music Rage Against the Machine” by Tom Morello himself. Sonny has also worked with a number of labor and community-based organizations in New York City as an organizer and educator and regularly facilitates workshops and classes on social justice issues, community organizing, anti-oppression, and more.  His writings on racial justice, Sikhism and social change, and Islamophobia have appeared in the Huffington Post, Colorlines, Asian American Literary Review, Jadaliyya, and The Langar Hall (a blog he co-edits). Sonny is currently an Open City Fellow at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. www.sonnysingh.com @brooklynsingh





Organizer: A/P/A Institute at NYU
Venue: NYU Kimmel Center, Shorin Performance Studio, 802
60 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10003 United States
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Add to Calendar 11/20/2014 07:00 PM 11/20/2014 09:00 PM America/New_York Return of the Unfit: A Gathering to Locate, Challenge, & Exorcise Our Eugenic Ghosts More detail: https://apa.nyu.edu/event/a-eugenic-unhaunting-extricating-the-legacy-of-american-eugenics-from-contemporary-politics-and-praxis/ NYU Kimmel Center, Shorin Performance Studio, 802, New York, NY, 10003