Immobilised by Immigration

Thursday, 26 June, 2014 - 12:00

WiSER and CISA invite you to a talk by

M. Neelika Jayawardane

(Associate Professor of English at SUNY-Osweg)

“Immobilised by immigration: Nafissatou Diallo, DSK, and public perceptions of rape, asylum narratives, and African women”

This article analyses the manner in which Nafissatou Diallo’s immigration narrative and her African origins were figured in the public arena during the course of her accusation of rape against Dominique Strauss-Kahn. I argue that immigrants like Diallo are often immobilised by the processes associated with justice and law in “host” nations, complicating discourses of globalization, transnationalism, and diaspora that rely on highlighting mobility. The case illustrated that bodies in precarious positions will inevitably find it more difficult to negotiate the bureaucratic processes within highly regulated spheres, especially those policies and laws that control movement into powerful nations. This is especially true where there is a confluence between claims of rape and the granting of asylum. Further, because tolerance for migrant workers, refugees and asylees is reduced if they display an ability to negotiate for positions of agency, rather than remain in positions of supplication, those in precarious legal and economic positions are further hobbled by the public’s requirement for them to remain invisible. Ultimately, Diallo’s immigration/asylum narrative and her “Africanness” were used to associate her with virulence and contagion, illustrative of the dangers of Africa, and threat posed by America’s purportedly open borders. Her immigrant’s “hustle”—her ability to negotiate for a position of agency in her new country—served to injure and disable her credibility as a claimant in a case of rape.

Thursday, 26th June

12 to 1:30

Please bring your lunch and we will provide juice, tea/coffee.

WiSER Seminar Room,

6th Floor, Richard Ward Building,

East Campus, Wits University