10 Questions: Centennial Edition — What is CITIZENSHIP?

10 Questions: Centennial Edition — What is CITIZENSHIP?


(audience applauds) (laughs) – I love the way Mark makes the UCLA School of Arts and
Architecture sound fantastic. Thank you. If you’re just joining us, welcome to week eight of our quarter. It’s so nice to see so
many familiar faces. The question tonight of
course is what is citizenship? It’s also Thanksgiving week,
so I’m also very glad that students, you haven’t gone home yet, and in the spirit of giving
thanks I want to acknowledge the UCLA people whose work has continued to contribute to 10 Questions. I’m just going to say some names, most of you have already heard them, but it’s worth saying again. Andres Cuervo and the
Centennial Committee, Brett Steele, who is the… – Dean. – Thank you. Arsenio, Mark, Ginger, Erica, and Marcia from the Department of
World Arts and Cultures, Anne Marie Burke, Louise
Cale, and Kylie Carrigan, who are my partners in putting
this presentation together, and a big shout out tonight to our four amazing teaching assistants, grad students who are
getting their degrees in the School of the
Arts and Architecture, Erin Cooney, K. Taylor-Hasty, Jackie Davis up there,
and Brisa Smith Flores. Thank you all.
(audience cheers and applauds) – Brisa! – Whoa, y’all. Also, the dedicated camera crew. My mother. No, okay.
(laughing) As a land-grant institution, we recognize the Gabrielino/Tongva people as the original caretakers of this land, and we are grateful to be
visitors in this place. This evening I’m going to let the experts joining us on stage frame
the discussion of citizenship in their own particular ways, however I do want to share a few things that I found meaningful as I
was considering this question. First, I want to share a short excerpt from a lecture given by
Toni Morrison in 2002. In this piece, she spoke of
the tremendous mass movements of people over the second
half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, a movement of workers,
intellectuals, refugees, of armies crossing oceans and continents, of immigrants through custom
offices and hidden routes seeking, among other things,
sanctuary from persecution, exile, violence, and poverty. Toni Morrison said, “The
spectacle of mass movement “draws attention
inevitably to the borders, “the poorest places, “the vulnerable points
where one’s concept of home “is seen as being menaced by foreigners. “Much of the alarm hovering
at the borders, the gates, “is stoked, it seems to
me by first both a threat “and promise of globalism, “and second, an uneasy relationship with “our own foreignness, “our own rapidly disintegrating
sense of belonging. “The threat and promise of globalism “and an uneasy relationship
with our own foreignness, “our own rapidly disintegrating
sense of belonging.” People come to a place seeking belonging for all kinds of reasons, but today particularly in the midst of a humanitarian crisis
on our southern border, and indeed all over the world, I’d like to share an
excerpt from the poem “Home” by Warsan Shire, a British
poet of Somali origin. “No one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark. “You only run for the border “when you see the whole
city running as well. “Your neighbors running faster than you, “breath bloody in their throats. “The boy you went to school with, “who kissed you dizzy
behind the old tin factory, “is holding a gun bigger than his body. “You only leave home when
home won’t let you stay. “No one leaves home
unless home chases you, “fire under feet, hot blood in your belly. “It’s not something you
ever thought of doing “until the blade burnt
threats into your neck, “and even then you carried
the anthem under your breath, “only tearing up your
passport in airport toilets, “sobbing as each mouthful
of paper made it clear “you wouldn’t be going back. “You have to understand that no one “puts their children in a boat “unless the water is safer than the land. “No one burns their palms under
trains, beneath carriages. “No one spends days and nights
in the stomach of a truck “feeding on newspaper, “unless the miles traveled mean
something more than journey. “No one crawls under fences. “No one wants to be beaten, pitied. “I want to go home, but home
is the mouth of a shark. “Home is the barrel of the gun “and no one would leave home “unless home chased you to the shore, “unless home told you
to quicken your legs, “leave your clothes behind, “crawl through the desert,
wade through the oceans. “Drown, save, be hunger,
beg, forget pride. “Your survival is most important. “No one leaves home until home
is a sweaty voice in your ear “saying, ‘Leave. “‘Run away from me now. “‘I don’t know what I’ve become, “‘but I know that anywhere
is safer than here.'” Please join me in welcoming
our guests this evening. I’d like to ask you all to come on out and I will introduce you. Let’s put our hands
together for Leisy Abrego, Hiroshi Motomura, and Marike Splint. (audience applauds) Hiroshi Motomura is a
Susan Westerberg Prager Distinguished Professor of Law at UCLA. He is a teacher and scholar
of immigration and citizenship with influence across a
range of academic disciplines and as well as in federal,
state, and local policymaking. Professor Motomura has
testified in the U.S. Congress, has served as co-counsel
or a volunteer consultant in many litigated cases in policy matters, and has been a member of the
American Bar Association’s Commission on Immigration. In the fall of 2008, he
was an outside advisor to the Obama-Biden transition
team’s working group on immigration policy, and he claims to this day
that his most important public moment was on tryguys.com. So, check it out. (audience laughs) Leisy Abrego is a professor
in the newly renamed Department of Chicana/Chicano
and Central American Studies at UCLA. Her research and teaching interests are in Central American migration, Latina/Latino families, inequalities created by
gender and the production of illegality through U.S. immigration laws. Through her scholarship
analyzing legal consciousness, illegality and legal violence, Abrego explores how different subsectors of Latina/Latino/Latinx immigrants, including undocumented students, internalize and react
to immigration policies in search of justice in the United States. She also dedicates much
of her time to supporting and advocating for refugees and immigrants by writing editorials and
pro bono expert declarations in asylum cases. Welcome, Leisy. (audience applauds) Marike Splint is a theater
maker from the Netherlands based in Los Angeles whose
work has been presented by festivals and theaters
all around the world. She specializes in creating
work in public space that explores the
relationship between people, places and identity. She has created shows in sites ranging from transitional
neighborhoods to wide open meadows to taxi cabs, train
stations, and hotel rooms. She serves as an assistant professor in our Department of Theater at UCLA. Welcome, Marike. (audience applauds) With all that formality aside, we’re going to take our seats
and by prior arrangement Leisy is going to lead us
into the very first talk. Thank you, Leisy. (audience clapping) – Good evening, everyone. I’d like to thank Vic for
inviting me to participate and Anne Marie for helping
with all of the details. I want to say that this question
about what is citizenship is a broad one. If you look in sociology
and political science and philosophy and ethnic studies, there is a lot written about this. I’m gonna try to just very briefly share a little bit about those. There are threads in this
vast area of scholarship that focus on the legal
foundation of what is citizenship, that determines the rights
and responsibilities that a nation-state presumably
bestows upon the people who are born there or who reside there, and this approach tries to
capture how nation-states determine who legitimately
belongs within borders. It tries to claim that
it provides equal rights to all citizens and establishes
a kind of formal nationality that a lot of us then
presume is followed by a sense of belonging. In other threads, scholars
discuss the ways that we experience citizenship, and in this line of thinking
we look a lot at many people who are marginalized based
on gender, race, class, sexuality, disabilities, religion, and that shouldn’t be surprising to us given that we are in a
country that was founded upon the idea that citizenship should only be for white males who own property. Things have changed, but we
continue to see inequalities across how we experience citizenship. Again, we can think of it
as this formal nationality and we can think of it as
being about bestowing rights. We can also think about
citizenship as a lived experience, and it is through that that we see more of the contested terrain
and the inequalities. If we focus on that aspect,
we might think about different kinds of questions to ask, like who belongs in our society? Who participates in our society? Who has a voice and who has full rights? I won’t be able to cover all of that, I won’t have answers for you, but I do want to draw on my research and give you three examples
of the ways that citizenship plays out in different migrants
and their families’ lives. I’ll begin with U.S. citizens
in mixed-status families. We know that there are
over four million children under the age of 18 who are U.S. citizens, who live in what we call
mixed-status families that include at least one
parent who is undocumented. The 14th Amendment grants
citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in the United States, regardless of where
their parents were born and regardless of their
parents’ legal status. So we have lots of these cases, U.S. citizens in mixed-status families, then have to navigate what
it means to be a U.S. citizen in the space of being
surrounded by loved ones who tense up around police officers, who tense up around
immigration checkpoints. They have to grow up
thinking about what it means that they have access
to rights and resources that the people who care
for them don’t access, and that makes it a very
complicated situation. In my research I’ve
interviewed people who, after having been admitted to college, decide that they will not go
because they feel so guilty that they can access financial aid but their older siblings can’t. They decide instead to work
in the service industry and do other things because
to them it feels so unfair that they can do things
that their siblings can’t. I’ve also seen people starting
to drive at the age of 13 because they know that if the police stops one of their parents while driving, that parent might be
detained and deported, but they figure that even if
you’re 13 you’ll get a ticket and then not have anyone have
to separate from the family. These kinds of experiences
mean that you grow up thinking about what it means
that a nation claims you and provides your nationality,
but refuses to do the same for the people that you love the most. In that way you can imagine
the guilt, the responsibility, and the challenges of feeling
that you can fully participate in such a society. My next example is from
transnational families, families in which two or more core members live across borders. In this case, I’m going to
draw on a personal example. My family has a history of having been a transnational family. My grandmother, my maternal grandmother, had to leave El Salvador after years of trying to provide for her kids and not being able to do so. She came to the United States
in the 1960s by herself, leaving behind four
children with her mother, my great-grandmother. After getting here, she
worked mostly as a housekeeper in a hotel and it took her several years to find any kind of
pathway to citizenship, and it was only at that
point that she could apply for her children to join her here. So between the moment she left and the time that her kids could come, 14 years passed by. Four decades later, my mother
who very recently turned 60, still can’t talk about her
childhood without crying. She remembers how much she
longed to be with her mother all of those years, and even though she’s near
her now and sees her often, it never is something
that she can recover from. I wrote a book about these experiences. I interviewed dozens
of Salvadorian families who live in similar conditions, and I asked my mother, who
taught herself how to paint about 15 years ago, if she
could reflect on her experience as a child in a transnational family, and this is what she painted. The painting reveals her childhood and the way that she imagined her mother as a larger than life, distant
but ever present figure overseeing the small
town and the small life that she had in San Martin. The painful separation
is evident in the tears of all of the people in the painting as they fall into Lago Ilopango, the lake that was near where she grew up. Her mother meanwhile in the painting is the largest tree of the plaza. She’s rooted in the town even
though she’s physically absent and my mom hoped that she
and her siblings, my aunts, and their daily lives always
occupied her mother’s mind. The cross that you see at
the front of the forehead represents the tragic death
of my uncle who drowned just months before they
received the immigrant visa to be reunited with their mother. I mention this because citizenship
here plays a central role in why they had to be
apart for so many years. It took a very long, expensive,
and bureaucratic process for this family to be reunited again, and in the meantime, as
a working class migrant, my grandmother did not participate in the promises of citizenship. She was busy working and all
that citizenship meant for her was the chance to be able to
reunite with her children. Meanwhile, my mom and my aunts who were legal citizens of El Salvador, they had access to limited schooling and all of the limited
rights that are guaranteed by a rather politically
unstable nation-state, but they were constantly
missing their mother and only thinking about a future in which they could be together, which prevented them from
participating in the society that they lived in. They were not civically engaged. They were not politically informed. They were only thinking about a time when they could have
citizenship elsewhere. When you grow up in that way,
you don’t fully have a voice and you don’t fully have
participation in either society. We think of citizenship as
being determined by what happens within nation-states, but
these things cross borders and deeply impact peoples’ lives. I also want to talk about another form that citizenship can take, even when you have people who reside without legal authorization
in the country. There are ways that undocumented
migrants in the U.S. enact citizenship in different moments, so political activism and civic
engagement give people voice even when legally they are
not allowed to participate in the promises of citizenship. There are different
groups who have done this. Undocumented Central American
migrants, for example, as soon as they arrived in the 1980s started to organize to
demand that the U.S. stop intervening militarily
in their home countries. There are people from that same generation who also organized in labor unions to demand better working
conditions and fair wages, notably in various industries
but also in particular in the very successful
Justice for Janitors campaign of the 1990s. They organized to demand
the possibility of stable legal statuses. Even though many still
don’t have citizenship they were able to procure
temporary protected status or TPS, which then went on to
serve as a foundation for what we now know as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, DACA. Undocumented youth have
also been immigrants who without citizenship status or rights have frequently over the last
decade raised their voices and exerted political agency to change the direction of public policy and to demand human rights. In this way their actions and the way that they practice
citizenship teaches us lessons about what it means
beyond just a legal status. I want to end my portion
of this talk by kind of putting out other questions
about citizenship, mainly by bringing in the
concept of settler colonialism. I know that many of us,
most of us probably, have been taught that
colonization happened, that in the Americas we had colonies that were set up by Portugal,
by Spain, by Britain, and that after some time
the populations here were able to organize and
fight and become independent from those colonizers. But Native American scholars
have been teaching us now for some time that we
need to rethink that. That we need to understand
that the colonizers didn’t actually leave, that they came and they set up laws and they changed our
relationship to the land, to think about land and
space and natural resources as things that we can own
rather than as co-inhabitants of this earth. If we take that into consideration and understand that settler colonialism has set up a system of laws
that then determine citizenship and determine unequal rights for people, how do we then rethink what citizenship is and who should have
rights and to what spaces, and how and why? I leave you with that and I hope that we can
continue that conversation. Thank you. (audience applauding) – Thank you, Leisy and thank you, Vic and everyone who helped
organize this tonight to foster an interdisciplinary dialogue that is really important. My name is Marike Splint. I am a citizen of the Netherlands
and a resident in the U.S. What is citizenship? My short answer to that
question is I’m not sure, and my long answer to that
question is I’m not sure and I’m gonna tell you why. When Vic asked me to join this panel, it was because of the work
that I do as a theater artist and the themes that I tend
to focus on with my work, the relationship between
people, place, and identity and notions of belonging. Initially I thought I
was gonna come here today and talk about my work, but as we got closer to this date the question that kept coming up is why am I interested in these questions and how has my family’s
complex relationship to the notion of citizenship informed my creative
practice as an artist? The story of my family is one that I never really tell in public. Sometimes I will refer to
it in an artist statement, but since it doesn’t easily
fall into prevalent narratives I tend to uncomplicate
it when I talk about it, and so today I’m gonna
complicate it. (laughs) We are going to jump between
countries and centuries, so bear with me. We are starting in Souk-El Khemis, a small village in Tunisia. This is the village where
my mother is born in 1950, a moment where Tunisia
is a French protectorate which is similar to being a colony, just slightly, slightly less bad. Souk-El Khemis means Market on Thursday, and the next village is
called Market on Wednesday, which is basically the only
distinguishing character of the village. This is what my mother paints when she talks about that village. She describes it as an idyllic place surrounded by green hills
filled with poppies, and maybe once a day a train will stop. My mother is born as the
eighth of nine children in a Jewish family with
Tunisian citizenship. The language spoken at
home is mostly Arabic, the music is Arabic, and the
food of Shabbat is couscous. Let’s briefly zoom out here. How come there is Jewish
presence in North Africa? This also dates back to 1492,
the year Columbus set sail. At that time there is a
very large Jewish population in what is now contemporary Spain that has been living there
for about 1,700 years, but it is the era of the Inquisition, so in 1492 the Spanish edicts
ordered their Jewish residents to choose one of three options. The first one: convert to Catholicism, the second one: remain
Jewish but leave the kingdom by a certain deadline, and the third one was to be executed. Needless to say many Jews left and my family ended up in North Africa. At the time that my mother is born, her family has been in what is now Tunisia for half a millennium, and this is a picture of
my two great-grandfathers around 1900, and the
mustache game is on point. (audience laughs) To close off this sort of Spanish sidestep that I made in 2015, Spain passed a law to
grant Spanish citizenship to the descendants of Jewish families who had fled Spain in
the late 15th century. Let’s go back to Tunisia in the ’50s. This is my mother’s birth certificate. Because it was a French protectorate of course the administrative
paperwork is in French. On the bottom left you can see her name, Lucienne Rebha Mimoni. It’s a strategic name
chosen by my grandparents. Lucienne is a French name,
it honors the French rulers. Rebha is an Arab middle name because they were living
in an Arab country. Mimoni is a Jewish last name, the name that contains
the spiritual heritage. All the nine siblings of my mother have the exact same
construction of their name. In 1956, Tunisia gains
independence from France, and as Leisy just pointed out, where the utopia often
is that the colonization seamlessly leads to freedom and democracy, in reality that’s rarely the case. The Tunisian Jewish
population found themselves in a very complicated spot in between. They were definitely not
part of the colonizers but they were also not part of
the native Muslim population. In the years following the independence, anti-Semitism rises and it
becomes increasingly unsafe for my family to live there. So, what are their options? They consider going to Israel, but you cannot immigrate
directly to Israel from an Arab country. The Jewish population
of full French colonies, such as Algeria, were
eligible to get citizenship, but Tunisia was a protectorate
so that did not apply to my family either. But nevertheless, in 1961
my grandfather buys tickets for the boat for the whole
family to emigrate to France in the hope to apply for
residence upon arrival. This is a picture taken on
the day of their departure. My mom is right in the middle. They leave the port of
Tunis for Marseilles on September 26, 1961, and it is the day of my
mother’s 11th birthday. As a birthday gift, she had
been given a beaded necklace and she recalls playing with it and letting it run through her hands as she leans over the railing of the boat, until the necklace suddenly breaks and all the beads fall
down in the Mediterranean. I could not have imagined
a better metaphor for the story of their family. From this very small countryside village, my mother goes to spending her
teens in Paris in the ’60s, witnessing the uprising
of ’68 on the streets. In the meantime my
family is spread around. It lasts a long time
before they find apartment that even half of them can live in, but everyone is wanting to find new roots and they go in full assimilation mode. There is an unquestioned
reverence for French authors and painters, and slowly but
surely Christmas celebration starts to overshadow Hanukah. This is my grandmother’s
French residency permit. This is for reference,
her Tunisian passport. It’s like a residence card. It indicates that she’s
part of a big family, I don’t know why. I think it also doubles. From what I can see,
it’s like a 30% discount on public transportation, (laughs) which I guess was a perk. My grandmother lives in
France until her death in 2004 and applies for French
citizenship multiple times, but for reasons I’m not
really understanding, it is always rejected. My mother also never
gains French citizenship. When she turns 18 she is on
very bad terms with her parents. The rupture caused by the migration has led to many unresolvable
tensions in the family, and one night she flees home secretly in the middle of the night. She desperately wants to leave Paris, going back to Tunisia is not an option, and she does not have money. However, because she’s
Jewish she can study for free in Israel if she takes
on Israeli citizenship, which is what she does. Because of this she loses
her Tunisian citizenship because Israel does not
allow for dual citizenship with an Arab country. So, she goes to study French
literature in Tel Aviv and works the night shift in
a big club cleaning glassware, and she does not like being there. She’s feeling miserable and she often refers to this
time as feeling homesick, although I am not sure what
home she is referring to at this point. Moreover, she is about to be
called for mandatory service, which is a responsibility that comes with Israeli citizenship, so once again she flees. Recent Israeli citizens
were asked to pay a deposit when leaving the country
to ensure their return, so my mother pays the
deposit and doesn’t come back until eight years later
when she’s pregnant with me because she’s thinking, “If I’m pregnant, “they will not ask me to
serve in the military.” After Israel, she briefly
goes back to France and eventually she meets my father, who was a navigator on container ships and from the Netherlands, which leads her to move to Rotterdam, and her marriage to my father
grants her Dutch citizenship. This is the moment that
she wants to give up her Israeli citizenship, but having deserted, she is
scared to go to the embassy, so she puts her passport in an envelope and puts it in the mail and requests, “Please renounce my Israeli citizenship.” This is clearly not the
official way to process it, and that notice never went through, and as a result my brother
and I found out 10 years ago that on our Dutch birth certificate we actually have the Israeli nationality, even if none of us had
been there at that moment or ever held an Israeli passport. So, growing up in a very
white suburb of Rotterdam, I am extremely confused about who we are. I do not understand the
difference between citizenship, inherited colonial culture,
spiritual heritage, or the importance all
of my family is placing on the food tradition of a country none of us is living on at the moment. As I now understand, food
was maybe the most tangible component of our identity that moved with us whatever
country we were in. This confusion leads the six year old me exclaim embarrassingly pompous
introduction in Dutch like, “I speak French and yet I am Jewish,” and I was just trying
to make sense of it all. In a way, I am still. We made a trip with my mother to Tunisia and Souk-El Khemis in 2010, and it was just months
before the Arab spring, and I saw how my mother
was hoping to find her uncomplicated and idyllic
childhood untouched. What we found instead was a
town grown out of proportion, unemployment, social tensions, and barely any trace
of former Jewish life. In my mother, I saw a
woman looking for ghosts, looking for people who
would faintly recognize the name of my grandfather, and I had to talk her out
of buying the literal ruin that was the house that she was born in, which is more or less this moment. This trip was the moment that the notion of having a
homeland, a place of origin, moved from being something physical, a tangible point of return, to something that now only
existed in our memory. Or, as my cousin will say it, “Tunisia was never the
place where we came from. “It was a country that
temporarily hosted us. “Maybe they hosted us for 500
years, but it was temporary.” An image come to mind by Albert Memmi, the Jewish Tunisian writer
who wrote several books on decolonization, and he describes the fate
of the Jewish Tunisian as, “Little beetles who one
moment are walking on ground “that they think is solid, “and the next moment they
are turned on their back, “rootless, and their legs
are floundering in the air “and there’s still a little
bit of soil on their feet.” Why am I telling you all this? In an ideal world, citizenship
can be seen as a lofty ideal that involves active
participation and democracy and casting votes and being
recognized as a citizen and carrying shared
responsibility for country, but in real life the
question of citizenship is more messy and muddy and
often has another side to it: which papers do you have
and are they the right ones? To critically look at citizenship, you not just have to look
at its affirmative center, but you have to go to the margins. What is required to get it, who is being denied citizenship, and who doesn’t have it? In the case of my family,
citizenship is something arbitrary and something they did not
always have control over. When you are in survival mode,
as Leisy also pointed out, it’s hard to enact the
rights and responsibilities that come with citizenship, and that is a fact that is true
for an increasingly growing percentage of the world population. As a theater artist, I
am deeply influenced by this notion of instable identity. That same trip to Tunisia was
the moment that I started to realize and articulate
what the questions are behind my work and what drives the work. Most of my project take
place site-specifically, outside of regular theater venues, because through my family
heritage I am inherently wired to ask questions about our relationship to the spaces that we inhabit and how we inhabit them together. Currently I’m working
on “On the Other Side,” a work that I’m creating
with four performers who have been critically
impacted by borders in different eras and different regions, but together they accumulate
to a reflection on how we as humans organize territory and how borders and
boundaries affect bodies and cultural memories through generations. We had a first meeting with
the complete team last weekend. It was at my house, and after
the meeting we had dinner and I cooked Tunisian couscous, the festive food that
would have been served at special occasions in Souk-El Khemis. So, what is citizenship? I am not sure. It’s a question that I’m trying
to work through in my work, but what I do know is that being
a citizen and being at home are not necessarily the same thing. Thank you. (audience applauding) – I’m Hiroshi Motomura. I want to thank all of you
for being here tonight. Thanks to Anne Marie, Vic,
for making this all happen. I’m reminded actually of something that the writer Anton Chekhov once said, and that is that if you
in the first chapter you hang a rifle on the wall, by the second or third chapter
it absolutely has to go off. I feel the same way about guitars. (laughing) What I wanted to do, this is a picture of folk singer Woody Guthrie, and I wanted to talk about a song that, in some ways it may be one
of his most famous songs, but I think it says a
lot about citizenship. It’s a very complicated song, much more complicated
than one would suppose. I’m gonna use it to illustrate something, I’m not gonna sing the whole song through but I want to talk about different verses. I want to talk about the song and what I think it really
tells us about citizenship. The point I’m trying to make, and I think this is gonna
complement very well what Marike and Leisy did, (plucks acoustic guitar) is to suggest that there
are many different ways to think about citizenship, obviously. We’ve really heard multiple dimensions of what citizenship could mean, and we also think about it as time and separation between home, but I want to use this to use
some work from Woody Guthrie to think about something
else about citizenship. It’s really the fundamental
irony of citizenship, and that is that as our
UCLA sociology colleague famously wrote about
practically a generation ago, citizenship is a way to include people. It’s a way to empower people. It’s a way to give them voice and it’s a way to give the
meaning and membership. But at the same time,
at the very same time, it’s a way to exclude people. The great irony of citizenship is it does both of these two things, and in some ways the task of citizenship, the tough task of citizenship
is to do the inclusion without excessively excluding. Obviously what you’re seeing is that I don’t normally do
this in the law school. (laughs) This is not classic law school pedagogy, but I figure I’m in this beautiful hall. (plucks acoustic guitar) This is a song, this is Woody Guthrie, he wrote this song in 1940. You may notice that on this guitar he has this little quasi
bumper sticker that says, “This machine kills fascists.” (plucks acoustic guitar) Let me start with the chorus. (lighthearted acoustic guitar music) ♪ This land is your land ♪ ♪ This land is my land ♪ ♪ From California ♪ ♪ To the New York island ♪ ♪ From the redwood forests ♪ ♪ To the Gulf Stream waters ♪ ♪ This land was made for you and me ♪ I first heard that song, I think when I was seven
or eight years old. I was going to an overnight camp that my parents really
could barely afford, it just went for a week, and at the time I remember
actually in terms of citizenship, I was actually stateless. I actually had no
citizenship until I was 15, which is a whole other story. But I remember wondering about this song because I heard this and I thought musically I really loved this song and I was wondering,
“Is this song about me? “Is this my land?” I mean, I was an immigrant kid, parents spoke very imperfect English. I grew up in San Francisco at a time when being an Asian immigrant
was actually quite exotic and strange, and I heard this song and I was wondering really what it meant, and I realized I probably
felt the exclusionary idea impacted this song much more powerfully when I first heard it than
I would later come to feel. But that’s not the way
I think Woody Guthrie intended this song. He wrote this song in 1940, he was living in a hotel in New York City, and he wrote this song and
he wrote it as a reaction against the song that he
reputedly absolutely hated, which was “God Bless America,” which he regarded as uber
patriotic, complacent. He wrote this song and the chorus, “This land was made for you and me,” was originally, “God
blessed America for me.” Not, “This land was made for you and me.” Maybe as all immigrant families do, and as the country changes
you feel you belong more and so I was thinking about the song as something I could actually sing, but it also has always stuck
me that there are many people who would equally feel
excluded by this song, Native Americans, especially the part of
the song that talks about, in some sense this is kind
of a settler colonial song. Right? I was thinking about that and
it’s always stayed with me, but Woody Guthrie was a
fighter for social justice and I think he was aware
of these sorts of things. One of the interesting
stories about this song, the lyrics changed over
time, as folk songs do, but one of the interesting
things about this song is that in various early
versions of the song there are three verses that are kind of the
social justice verses. The verses where he
pushed back on this idea that we should take it for granted that citizenship is
something that we all have. He pushed back in different ways, and these are verses that
were not often played. In fact, these are verses that
Woody didn’t actually sing for much of this period
because it was during the 1950s and there was I think real
concern that he’d be blacklisted. (gentle acoustic guitar music) I think he was also the kind of person that at some level didn’t care, but at the same time I
think he was someone who knew what the reactions would be, and I also think that
there were various people, record companies and people
like that, who censored him. He wrote this verse, which
I think can be thought of as a different take on citizenship, and the take on citizenship is to really question citizenship and to really question the
very premise of borders, on which the first verse, the
chorus, seems to be based. (lighthearted acoustic guitar music) ♪ As I was walking ♪ ♪ I saw a sign there ♪ ♪ And on the sign it said ♪ ♪ No trespassing ♪ ♪ But on the other side ♪ ♪ It didn’t say nothing ♪ ♪ That side was made for you and me ♪ ♪ This land is your land ♪ ♪ This land is my land ♪ ♪ From California ♪ ♪ To the New York island ♪ ♪ From the redwood forests ♪ ♪ To the Gulf Stream waters ♪ ♪ This land was made for you and me ♪ When I think about that, that verse, and I think about the
chorus quite differently. I really think of this as kind of a song really about why do we have these borders? That comes up, but that was a verse he really wasn’t singing a lot, and in many respects it
was almost a lost verse. So, that’s one way to
think about this song, but there’s another verse where
he talks about citizenship in a different way and that is
that if you can be inclusive, the inclusive aspect of citizenship, if that overcomes the exclusionary
aspect of citizenship, then it means really sharing
in a collective wealth or collective prosperity,
if there is prosperity, and really taking part in sharing
what you have with others. Citizenship, in this sense,
is a sense of collective good. This is another verse that he wrote and often not always
sung, kind of forgotten, that really captures this
notion of citizenship and it really affects
the way you think about the chorus as well. (lighthearted acoustic guitar music) ♪ In the squares of the city ♪ ♪ In the shadow of the steeple ♪ ♪ By the relief office ♪ ♪ I see my people ♪ ♪ As they stood there hungry ♪ ♪ I stood there asking myself ♪ ♪ Is this land made for you and me ♪ ♪ This land is your land ♪ ♪ This land is my land ♪ ♪ From California ♪ ♪ To the New York island ♪ ♪ From the redwood forests ♪ ♪ To the Gulf Stream waters ♪ ♪ This land was made for you and me ♪ So you think about this
a little differently now. It’s a different way of
thinking about citizenship. It’s trying not to be exclusionary. Maybe it’s accepting the
fact that there is a people, that the border means something, but it also means that
once you’re inside it, the way you can justify that border is to make the world inside a fair place. That was a message that was forgotten in the way the song was recorded, but it was very much part
of his original message. That sense of citizenship as mobilizing and creating a space for
the inclusionary aspects of collective prosperity. There’s also a last verse
I’m gonna sing for you that also makes me think
differently about the chorus and think differently about the song, and that is not the idea
of being collectively… I mean, is this the way we treat people? Is this the way we treat
people that are homeless and is this the way we treat
people who are waiting, as he put it, in the relief office? He wrote really, I mean, a
lot of his formative years were during the Great Depression. He traveled to California
and rode the rails and really lived his life among people who were really suffering. But he also wrote another
verse, which is often, I think now, the last verse
of the recovered song, and it’s really belonging as empowerment. Not as entitlement, but as empowerment. Citizenship, one of the
ways that you justify the exclusionary aspect of citizenship is not just to make it
inclusionary in a passive sense, but inclusionary in a participatory sense. Inclusive in a way that
brings us together in a way that empowers us to work
together for a better place. This is the last verse
I’m gonna sing for you. (lighthearted acoustic guitar music) ♪ No one living ♪ ♪ Can ever stop me ♪ ♪ As I go walking ♪ ♪ Down freedom’s highway ♪ ♪ No one living ♪ ♪ Can ever make me turn back ♪ ♪ This land was made for you and me ♪ ♪ This land is your land ♪ ♪ This land is my land ♪ ♪ From California ♪ ♪ To the New York island ♪ ♪ From the redwood forests ♪ ♪ To the Gulf Stream waters ♪ ♪ This land ♪ ♪ was made ♪ ♪ for you and me ♪ (audience applauding) Thank you. I’m doing this to make a point because this is one of these things
that I don’t normally do in a law school classroom, but it’s also because I think
this is a very meaningful song in a lot of ways. It’s really my own journey
from being an immigrant who was wondering whether or not this land was made for you and me, and maybe sometimes I still wonder that being from an immigrant family, but times have changed
and maybe I’ve changed. But I think that it really illustrates not just the many meanings of citizenship. Citizenship is empowerment, citizenship is collectivity. I also think that those are
the inclusionary aspects of citizenship we often talk about, but citizenship is exclusionary as well. As I often think about borders
and I think about citizenship I think about what might
justify citizenship and what might justify borders? There’s only one answer
that I can come up with, and it may not be an answer
that convinces everyone. Sometimes it doesn’t convince me but I think it’s one worth naming, and that is to understand that citizenship is inherently exclusionary. There are people who are
citizens and people who are not. But at the same time,
what justifies citizenship or the promise of justified citizenship is the promise that within that space you can create a just society. You can create a society,
and that’s a society I think that Woody Guthrie’s talking
about in the three verses, that in some senses we’re suppressed, in some senses we’re forgotten
but certainly recovered, and those are the verses
that really stand out as the ones that I carry
around with me all the time. In that sense, I think that
there’s a lot that Woody Guthrie had to say about not just citizenship but what it means to belong, but also that it means the
risks of excluding people. I’ll just stop right there. Thank you. (audience applauding) – Bring me back up onto the stage. Thank you, thank you. – Hello? – Yeah, good. All right, we’re good. – Sorry about that. – Well, I didn’t want any of those to end. Thank you so much. I just imagine hearing that whole song will be entirely different now that we’ve listened
to those other verses. You saved that song for me. What I want to do this evening as we join one another on stage is something a little bit
different than previous weeks. I’d just like to take a
moment and ask each of us to recap what we heard one another say, what sorts of stories were being told, and then we’ll take it from there. We’ll move on. – I can start, if that’s okay. I was really just moved by
both of your presentations. Marike, I was left feeling
that it’s so important to think about not just
the ways that the state creates these categories, but also the meaning that
we bring in being present and in bringing life to those spaces in ways that can’t ever be
captured in legal categories, and that matters. Even as your family has had
to move to different spaces, the memories and the meaning
that you created there is passed on, and in that way citizenship
doesn’t matter sometimes. That you still can reach back to something that means so much to a family. Hiroshi, there was so much to think about. The one point that I’ll
focus in on is this idea that we can justify borders if we can find a way to make
things just within the society. Particularly because
my work crosses borders and because we know the
history of U.S. intervention in lots of parts of the world that then kind of decrease the value, if you want to think of it that way, of citizenship in those other places, it’s still really hard for me then. If that was your one point to hold onto for why citizenship might be a good thing and borders might be a good thing, then I’m left thinking,
“Is it then, ever?” because I know the
consequences of adding value to one citizenship by
taking it away from others. – I can go next. Leisy, what I really
sense from the examples that you described is sort
of the very violent clash where the legal definition of citizenship meets the lived experience, and the fault lines that you
described within families, the examples of the kids driving, but also a family separated, and I think that that’s
where the legal basis or the way that we define citizenship really creates such a stark
boundary within families. I think that that’s when it
is experienced as something violent and traumatic and exclusionary. It’s hard for the legal definition
to live in the same place as what it feels like to be in a place, and in a way oftentimes
it seems incompatible. I was really interested
just in the history of this Woody Guthrie song and the process of the
disappearance of these lyrics and how that has happened. When did the song take the
shape as we know it now, and is it a form of willful forgetting or wanting to have that
piece signify that? The work of art that may
have been intended in one way and then history and society
takes their course with it, and it generates this
whole different meaning. That to me is a very interesting
process to think about. – My sense of… I’m gonna say a little
bit about collectively what I got out of
listening to both of you. I was thinking about all the ways that you really complicate
the idea of citizenship, but to me what’s interesting
about it is you complicate it in multiple dimensions. One way to complicate
it is to say citizenship is about certain things. It could be about identity, it could be about political participation, and just a lot of
different things like that. It could be about rights. But then those things then get
further complicated because, as I think you just said, some
of those line up with the law and some of them don’t
line up with the law. Some are unrecognized by the law, so that’s yet another
dimension beyond the strands, that there are groups of strands, and some of them match up differently with the law than others. From both of you, in some
senses both of you told stories that could have been told about my family. In my own family, a
family of my brother and I and my mother and my father, my father was a U.S. citizen, my mother was a Japanese citizen. My brother was born in the United States and he was a U.S. citizen
but I was born in Japan and came to this country when I was three. I fell between the cracks and I was actually a
citizen of no country. One thing I got out of
those experiences is that thinking about this in traditional
terms of the individual doesn’t work because of the family. That’s one. Another dimension I think
that’s really worth, I mean I’m putting together
what I learned from both of you, is that much of this is very
ephemeral, and the ephemerality has a couple different dimensions in turn. One is the sheer passage of time. A passage in time of 500
years can be short or long. It depends, and what does it depend on? It really depends on exactly
what citizenship means, and so in that sense this all
comes kind of full circle. It’s the ephemerality and
the transitional nature of any status that in some sense
reflects back on what it is that you mean by citizenship
in the first place. As you were both talking I sort
of was drawing this diagram in my head about mapping
everything you were saying and I realized I needed about
four dimensions to capture it. (laughing) – Yeah, I’m struck by
the stories that we tell, aside from the legal side of citizenship, the stories that do or don’t get told. Marike, you said you’ve
never told this story before, and what an extraordinary story it is. I think feeling in both
of your presentations the ways in which real people are living, because of those legal
definitions and restrictions, living such complexities. I’m also just struck again, then what stories do we
need to hear more often so that even beyond the photographic image to grasp the ways in which
these have profound consequences for lived experience? And as well, who co-ops
the meaning of a song and the ways in which
it travels as a story through our lives? – Yeah, it’s not just a story but also the questions that we ask. I remember being interviewed
once on the Fourth of July on radio broadcast. I think I was being asked as
someone who’s supposed to know something about citizenship law. The guy who interviewed me was
actually Robert Siegel on NPR and I says, “It’s great
to have you on the phone. “I can talk back to you,” and he said, without
missing a beat he said, “You can talk back to me any time. “I just won’t hear it.” (laughs) But he said, “So, why don’t
people become citizens?” He was asking me kind of
legally and then I said, “Wait a minute, let me
tell you about my mother. “That’s the wrong question.” It’s not like she work up
every morning and said, “Am I gonna become a citizen today?” She didn’t become a citizen for 30 years after she got a green card
and came to this country. For 30 years she got
the kids off to school, went to work and came home tired, and we ate dinner and, I don’t
know, watched TV or something and talked and she went to bed. Same thing happened and 30 years went by. So the question, “Why don’t
people become citizens?” is a very interesting question because of the position
from which it’s asked. It’s the stories we tell certainly, but part of those stories
is the questions we ask and the perspectives that we
bring to bear on the experience of citizenship, noncitizenship,
quasi-citizenship. – Do you think those
stories are different now than it were for your
mom in those 30 years? – I think it’s an interesting dimension in how time traveled, how the world was. That affects the way we think about it because when my mother
came to this country she was 27 years old, something like that, and we came on a boat. We came steerage on a boat. We came on the SS President Wilson. I saw the photo of her and me saying goodbye to her parents, and she wouldn’t see her parents
again for another 11 years. I think that’s the way she
thought about these things, is she thought about travel,
she thought about distance, she thought about what
it meant in some sense a pre-globalized world,
and it was a long time before we could scrape together the money to take a flight back. I think that affects things. This was long before we had
satellite TV or anything. In fact, it was before we had color TV. It was a little bit after
we had TV, but not much. I think it does make a difference and I think it has an effect also on the way people think about citizenship, but I don’t pretend to
think that that’s uniform across all people who are travelers. – I think we can also imagine that in different political moments these questions are asked differently and people live them differently. Even as recent as the Obama presidency versus the Trump presidency, what it cost 10 years
ago to get citizenship and to become naturalized
versus what it costs now, there’s all these pragmatic
issues to consider as well. – Could you say more about that? – Well, some of it has to
do with laws themselves but some of it has to
do with the discourse in which we live, the stories that are
highlighted in the media, and the ways that we
feel the consequences of immigration enforcement right now versus what was happening six years ago. For example, under the
Obama administration we had record numbers of deportations, but the news were not
always talking about them in the way that we’re
hearing the stories now. So the sense of fear, the
sense of not wanting to ever be in the public in any way
that might put you at risk of being detained, it feels
much more concrete right now than it did even toward the end
of the Obama administration. – That’s racialized to
a very different degree at different points in history. – Mm-hmm (affirmative). – At the same time, I think
that the migration flows are increasing so much, I feel that we live in a time
where borders are closed, like more people are moving
and more borders are closing and being redrawn, and it seems that we
also live in a time where the growth of both is exponential, and that the reaction seems
to be to tend to the narrative of closing down instead of opening up, while more and more people
have to leave there, the mouth of the shark,
because of climate change or civil injustices or war and poverty, and that’s only gonna grow. That’s not gonna become less. – I’m just curious, we’re talking here, the sense in which all three
of you have complicated stories of your own relationship to
citizenship and movement, how many of you just by a show of hands feel like you also have
a complicated story of citizenship, movement, migration? Yeah, that’s most of us, most of you. I wonder if, unless you
want to fall through, let’s take a short
you-know-what kind of break. That’s the one where you
test out your questions or what you’re feeling or the subject that hasn’t come up that really needs to come up. We’re gonna take two minutes
to talk to one another and see if the words come out in ways that you feel okay about it, and we’re gonna come back and have a conversation with you all. That’s the kind of break we’re having. Ready, go. We’re back, we’re back, we’re back. You all students, I do have
a list of your questions. I’m not ignoring them, but I’m
thinking maybe you’ll want to ask them yourselves tonight, or you have other questions to ask now that you’ve heard these
three extraordinary speakers. Clearly this is a topic
that we all need to address and also has very deep
personal consequences, so I don’t think we should shy away from the tough questions we have in our minds. I think there are mics
that are ready to move out into the audience. If you have to look at a mic person, not that you’re a mic person, Jackie, a question and students,
please, this is your space. Please don’t be shy. Go for it. – I could probably direct everyone. That says on, that’s probably on. It says on, that’s probably better. There you go. Probably addressed to Hiroshi,
growing up in San Francisco. – Yeah. – I believe the San Francisco school board has proposed allowing noncitizens who have students in the school district, allowing them to vote. What does that do to the
whole legal/non-legal definition of citizenship? – Well, I’ll give you a short answer and then we could elaborate on this. Noncitizen voting is a
really interesting thing. Noncitizen voting, in other words voting even if you’re not a U.S. citizen, that was actually quite
commonplace until the 1920s. I think Arkansas was the last state to do away with noncitizen
voting in about 1920-something, and so we think today
that one of the things that’s most important about
citizenship is the right to vote and that’s probably true, as
a factual matter right now, but the idea that people should
be allowed to participate in decisions that affect them is an idea that’s been
around for a long time. In some sense it’s an older idea than the idea that citizenship
is confined to vote. I now realize that I promised
you the short answer, but this is complicated because
I think a lot of the reasons that noncitizens were thought
of as full participants in society, why not let
the noncitizen vote, that was also related
to the race question too because it was white immigrants who were much more readily
seen as worthy of the vote at that time. It was really not necessarily
noncitizen voting, it was actually white
immigrant citizen-to-be voting. I wrote a book about this actually called “Americans in Waiting.” (laughing) But I do think that there’s
another way to think about this, and that is that we associate
things with citizenship, like if you’re a citizen you can vote. It’s kind of the idea that
once you prove yourself, you get the benefit. There’s a different way
to think about citizenship that I think actually drove
this idea of noncitizen voting, and that is that if we let
immigrants participate, they’ll buy in. They’ll buy in. They’ll be more likely to participate. This is the time to really
make them part of the society and to allow noncitizens to vote. If they participate in the San Francisco Public School District elections, that will incentivize
them to become citizens because they will become civically active in spite of their citizenship. That’s a different way
to think about that. It’s the citizenship as
the merit badge approach and the citizenship as a vehicle for bringing people
together in participation. That’s kind of a deeper answer. – It kind of depends on
a positive and hopeful civic atmosphere–
– Right, right. – That says we want citizens,
we want participation. I don’t think we’re there right now. – We’re not there, but
the United States I think has really backed away from the idea that immigrants are Americans in waiting, but I think the United
States still much more sees immigrants as future citizens than people in other countries, other countries with laws
that are much more restrictive where you have much more ethno-nationalist sense of citizenship. An Austrian friend once told me, this is an Austrian who’s
a native German speaker, he said, “Well, you can become a German “but it takes longer than a lifetime.” I think we’ve moved
away from that sort of, but then what Leisy says
about the historical period, because I think we’re really
the period of retrenchment and a period where right
now the United States Citizenship and Immigration
Service has taken “nation of immigrants” out
of its mission statement. That’s just in the last year. – Right there, great. Do you have a mic? (muffled distant speaking) Uh-uh. – Okay, hi. My question was you pointed out that then they would
choose to become citizens, but of personal experience
and a lot of experiences of my friends who are not U.S. citizens, it’s very hard to get
even a work permit here. Anywhere, most other countries you can get a work permit pretty easily, the citizenship might be harder, but U.S. does not make it easy so I think I understand
the people that shy away from trying to get citizenship because most likely that they don’t get it or they might be pushed out of the U.S. I just wanted to point that out. I don’t know if that changes anything. – It’s really true in
the sense that though, in theory but not necessarily in practice, if you’re a permanent
resident in the United States, that it’s easier to become
a citizenship than it is to make that transition in
a lot of other countries. The real barrier to
citizenship in this country is being allowed to come
here in the first place in any kind of of legal status. There are many people
for whom there’s no line to really even stand in. We have a very restrictive
immigration system, so you don’t get into the
group of people (mumbling) so in that sense you’re absolutely right. – I think, speaking from that
shorter European perspective, I think that the threshold
to get in is lower, but then what follows,
and there’s many artists actually who have made
performances also about this, is a very long bureaucratic
waiting process in which you’re waiting for asylum. It’s interesting to think
about what the faces are to our citizenship and how it is really organized
differently in each country. Yeah, in the Netherlands
sometimes you can wait, you can be legally in the Netherlands while waiting for asylum, but that can take up to 14 years. – While waiting for asylum? – Yeah, yeah. So you are there, you have
sort of a temporary status. You’re not a citizen but I guess your case is being looked at, but that process can be
drawn out over several years. So basically you are in a
country but your life is on hold. In Europe a lot of countries look at where did a refugee first reach Europe? This is the image of the land comes back. What was the first land that you touched? What was the first country that you gave your fingerprints to? That is the country that
should be responsible for you. – I also just want to step in and make sure people understand because it’s hard to figure this out from just watching media where they talk about it in
very black and white terms that you’re either undocumented
or you’re a citizen, but that’s not how it works at all. There are lots of in
between kinds of categories that include things like
having a work permit through temporary protected status or DACA or something like that, or being waiting for an
asylum case to go through that also grants you some protection but not yet legal
permanent residence status, which is the green card that
a lot of people call it, and then you have to be in that status, most people for about five
years before you can apply to become a U.S. citizen. So there’s a whole lot of
gray areas in that spectrum. – And a big barrier. The process itself is a huge barrier. The wait, the complexity, the money that you have to pay for fees. – When you look at the USCIS website, it’s one page with five steps. (laughs) That’s the irony of it. This is something that we looked at in a piece that I’m currently working on. One of the performers came
here with her family from Iran and it took them 14 years, and it’s literally when you print it out it’s not even a full page of text. It’s interesting, the discrepancy
between the legal process and that 14 years of
lives on hold, basically. – Somebody has a mic down here. Yeah, here we go, and then up there. – Hi, perhaps this was
already alluded to before, but how would you define the relationship or the association between
nationalism and citizenship? – Thank you for that question. – I looked it up but I’m gonna
let the lawyer answer this. (laughs) But I looked it up
before I came to this talk. (laughing) I don’t think I can explain it. – Well, I’ll go back to
what I was saying earlier about the exclusionary
parts of citizenship and the inclusionary parts of citizenship. My first reaction is that one
of the things that happens when people use, I mean the people, the insiders use citizenship to exclude, sometimes it reflects a
heightened sense of nationalism, and exclusive sense of nationalism. It’s not just that we’re
citizens and you’re not, but it’s also we’re Americans, we’re insiders and you’re not, and sometimes the
nationalism can be weaponized in that kind of way. That’s actually my first
reaction to your question. But then my second reaction
is that there have been times when people appeal to some
different kind of a sense of national ideals and
say, “Let’s stay with “the best traditions of
the civil rights movement,” and that’s the kind of nationalism, a nationalism of equality, of justice, the “I have a dream” nationalism. Now, a lot of people don’t associate that necessarily with nationalism,
especially these days, but that’s in some senses the
association of nationalism and citizenship also has that
kind of double-edged meaning. I think that when people use
the word nation and citizenship I’m always listening for
exactly how are they using it? I think these days we’re
seeing it much more used in an exclusionary sort of way, but there have been
different times in history, times when history says, “I can
sit where I want on the bus. “I’m an American too.” That’s an inclusionary
sense of nationalism. – I think so often in this country though nationalism has also included racism as part of that dynamic, and so it’s hard to separate out when it is about excluding people of color and when it’s something that
is about including everyone. That’s where it’s hard for me
to see it in a positive light, that there would be pride
in upholding a particular racial vision of what
this nation represents. – The race part is very much a tool of the exclusionary part of nationalism. One thing that would be
its own evening in itself is the racial history of
immigration and citizenship. The first naturalization statute in 1790 limited the eligibility
to become a U.S. citizen through naturalization
to free white persons, very explicitly so, and then
to persons of African nativity and descent in 1870. The racial restrictions
to becoming a citizen in the formal sense were
not eliminated from U.S. law until 1952, so this is in some sense, I guess it depends on when you were born, but some of us it feels
like it was yesterday. (laughing) Well, just maybe myself. (laughing) – I guess I associate, I
think as you point out, the weaponization of nationalism, it feels like that’s very
much where we are now. To me, I associate
nationalism with borders, like holding down the
fort, closing the borders. Would you say that that’s true? Maybe not. – For some sector of the population, yeah. That’s what feels like a thriving nation to know that you can keep
out who you want to keep out, and that seems to have some
support in contemporary society. – This is where the mixed family situation becomes very much, it really complicates this
in a way that’s, I think, sort of politically and
conceptually very valuable, and that is that I think a lot of people who mobilize nationalism
or weaponize nationalism in the exclusionary sense, in the sense that reinforces race, I think there’s a world
in which we imagine that it’s very easy to separate
those who are on the inside from those who are on the outside. But in fact that’s, as Leisy pointed out in one of her stories, this is much more complicated than that and that people who are undocumented, undocumented people have citizen relatives and so you take something
like the travel ban or the Muslim ban, whatever
term you want to use, I think it imagines a world in
which everyone who’s affected is trying to come here
from Iran or from Syria and four other countries, has no U.S. relatives who
are directly affected. That’s a very interesting kind of thing and a very telling one, and there may have been
a time when it was easier to draw a line between, I’m not sure there ever was
but there may have been a time, probably in the 1950s or something when immigration was at an all-time low, when it was more possible
to say there are people who are in the country and whole families with no U.S. connections
trying to come in, but I’m not sure there
ever existed such a time. Even today when there’s so many
families with mixed status, when you’re saying,
“You’re on the outside, “we’re not gonna recognize you. “We’re only gonna recognize
people on the inside,” what you’re really doing
is you’re only recognizing some of the people on the inside, those people without
people on the outside. The reality of fluidity
globalization of marriage and birth, that’s one of the big areas I
think both of you pointed out was a mismatch between
the law and with reality. – I can also speak to that a little bit. In the performance that I’m
currently working on on borders, as a research I traced all
of the U.S.-Mexican border. I did a road trip of 2,000 miles
and I crossed several times but also was looking for places
where the border is porous, which basically is everywhere. Even when you draw a line on
your paper with your pencil and you zoom in, it’s not
gonna be a straight line. It’s gonna be grainy. It’s not a hard line. Basically all the hard
lines that you draw, even the smallest elements
in our body, quarks, they are constantly moving. They are not fixed. So this idea that you can draw a line that is a fixed entity that
keeps people in and out is an illusion. Every time you zoom in on something, it has a certain fluidity, it has a certain porosity. The U.S.-Mexican border is
fluid and porous culturally, economically. I was also interested
in basically every time you cross the border to Mexico the first building on your
right is a dentist. (laughs) We use the border to exclude people but then cross the border
to then open our mouths and then have people look at our teeth, so there is so much more
of a circulation going on in that area that is actually
really culturally rich, because it works as a magnet, and so the illusion that a
border really divides a space is a myth. – I’d like to add on to
that and also point out that this idea of movement across borders we can think of from a wider lens, with the Salvadorian
population, for example. Today, Washington D.C., when you look at the
immigrant populations there, Salvadorians make up the
largest immigrant population, and you can trace back how
did Salvadorians get there when L.A. is the largest
in terms of numbers. We figured out that it was
U.S. government representatives who were in El Salvador
in the ’70s and ’80s and then had to leave
to avoid the civil war that was being funded
by the United States, and they brought their
domestic workers with them because they wanted those
women who took care of them and their children there to
continue to do so in the U.S. So Salvadorian migration
to Washington D.C. was based on these domestic workers, these women who were the
first in their families to come to the U.S., and then slowly, through
immigration policies that allow for family reunification, sometimes in some cases
they brought families and now that is the largest
immigrant population there. This kind of movement back and forth, it’s not one-sided in any way at all, even though it gets represented that way in popular discourse. – Let’s take another question. Short question here,
then we’ll go down there, and then all the way up to
the top if you pass your mic. Oh, and then Lucy, okay. Maybe you have to press the button. – Most of the discussion
tonight has revolved around the challenges of pursing citizenship or the difficulties of exclusion or the complexities of
families on the fringes. I’m curious what you
might offer for people who have been citizens for generations and maybe take it for granted, what might responsibilities
of citizenship be? – Great. (laughs) Silence is good. – Some of this is the sense of the last verse of “This
Land is Your Land.” Even without attributing
to anyone the politics of any person like Woody
Guthrie or anything like that, I think that it’s really
one of engagement, that there’s some sense of responsibility to participate and to work
for the collective good. It can be done in different ways. It can be done in everything
from voting to jury service or really just being informed, so that’s one way of thinking about it. Another dimension of citizenship that I think is very related
to the migration part is to be at least understanding, receptive maybe, but understanding
that citizenship evolves and the country to which
you belong evolves. I think it’s a tricky balance here because I don’t think it necessarily
is one that requires a loss of your own sense of identity. I think it also at the same
time requires receptivity to the way the world is changing. I think those are the kinds of things I associate with citizenship. That said, it also makes me wonder maybe I’m not even talking
and giving my answer about citizenship in a formal sense about what it means to be a
longtime member of society and deal with the changing
nature of that society. It’s the changing nature of society and the world is changing as well. One of the issues, one of
the larger points is that we often talk about citizenship as if there were no immigration. We often talk about immigration as if there were no globalization. It’s like the more I study citizenship, the more I realize it’s
not really what matters. It’s all these larger things. – Shall we go on to this
other question here? Yeah. – Okay, I’m really interested
in the question of citizenship since I was born in a country
that doesn’t exist anymore. By the time when I was
15 I was able to have four different citizenships because the country was divided into
five different countries and I belong somehow to all of them through my grandparents and parents. All of this confusion
grew into my question that I have for you tonight. We are starting to think about the country usually connecting it to a land and people who live in that country and they’re becoming the citizens. Then my question is what do you think, is there a possibility
for alternative countries where we do have country,
people, and citizens but we don’t have a land, where the land would be
virtual land or other places? So, that’s my question. – I don’t know how to
wrap my head around that. – We’re gonna take just– – Well, I can– – We’re gonna venture
short responses because it looks like we don’t want
to run out of time entirely. – Well, I think there are
many aspects of history where people have
self-identified as a people and they don’t necessarily have a land, but it’s also sometimes they have a land but they have no control over it. In other words it’s been taken from them. So that’s true as well, but
that very much underscores the fact that citizenship can
be identity without rights and without a sense of place,
and yet it can be very real. – I think we’re going right
up there, you got one? Okay, good. – Is it on? This is for Professor Abrego. You mentioned that when
the U.S. intervenes in other countries, it’s decreasing the ability
of the other countries to provide justice for its people. In international relations we have kind of an understood concept from
what I’ve been learning that countries try and
influence other countries and they try and protect themselves. What my question is is
while the U.S. intervention does decrease a country’s ability to create its own version of
justice for its citizens, isn’t that loss of
sovereignty just a reflection of that country’s inability to properly provide for its peoples’
citizenship and rights? – I would say that, at least
in the case of Central America, it’s more complicated than that. It serves a geopolitical need for the United States
with its fertile lands, with its natural resources, it’s the location itself has
allowed the United States to profit greatly from
being able to use it for its trade routes and
to exploit the labor there in such ways that the United
States has for over a century thought of it as its backyard and would not allow, given
just the inequalities in terms of being global
powers versus not, there just hasn’t been the space for those small governments
to be able to fight back in any way that was sustainable, because any time that you’d
have democratically elected leaders who wanted to
conduct agrarian reform, to give lands back to the
people who were from there, the United States, based
on U.S.-based companies that were there already
using up much of that land and those owners having the
ear of legislators here, there would immediately
be a coup of some sort. That happened over and
over and over in Nicaragua and Guatemala and
Honduras and El Salvador. There just hasn’t been the possibility for this isthmus area
to develop in any way that has been separate from the interests of the United States. – We’re gonna shift over right here. (muffled distant speaking) Is it on? – It’s on but it’s not on. – Yeah, I’ll dismiss with the setup. My question is I was reflecting on the John Lennon song “Imagine,” you know, “Imagine the
world being as one,” this idea that Dr. King had
about us being caught up in an inescapable network of mutuality tied by a single garment of destiny. When we look at climate change and the emergence of climate refugees, how does that impact the way we consider what citizenship can be? The numbers may not be as large
as the movement that we see from war and things of that nature, but the philosophic underpinnings of why people have to move, this idea that because people
do things in the United States or in Europe is impacting
Pacific Islanders and what they have to do, how will that impact what
citizenship looks like and who gets to decide
what that looks like and what is bequeathed to
those folks who become citizens in this new definition? – I don’t know if I can
fully answer that question, but I think that it’s safe to assume that people who are now not under
threat of climate change will be soon, and so that cities that we
consider to be big metropolis in the Western world will come under… I mean, Miami is not gonna be there. Amsterdam may not be there. I think that when we
think of climate change it’s important to not
think of it as something that is happening in parts of the world but it is something that’s
coming to all of us. I think that then
consequentially the question is so what does that mean for citizenship? Because I think this sense of othering that is now being applied to that just doesn’t hold anymore. – I think the numbers
that you’re talking about are actually quite high. In other words we’re talking
about a number of people that is really kind of astronomical when you play out the possible scenarios, so I think in that sense you’re really posing a
really important question. It reminds me that when
migration is perceived to be in kind of a small scale, well, then people do
the small scale thing. They build a wall. Then when it gets a little more migration, then you back that up with some
more enforcement apparatus. Then at a certain point
when you’re dealing with numbers or such, sooner or later people
realize that it doesn’t work to react that way (mumbling) So I see climate change
as one of those things that is going to make it important, finally people are gonna realize that you got to worry
about why people leave. It’s the shark, right? Maybe that’s the effect of
seeing this as not localized. Well, that’s only where they have a war. That’s why it’s going to
put a lot of us to the test as small scale solutions
to a huge scale problem are proven more and more
to be obviously inadequate. Maybe climate change does
that more than anything. Only time will tell. That’s the nature of the largeness of the scale of this potentially. Also, bear in mind it’s
not just climate change. It’s climate change combined
with a certain degree of political inability to deal with that in places where it’s current. – I want to jump in. We’re just about out of time, and so wherever we jump
in we’re closing up. I’d certainly like to
give each of you a moment, very, very short to have some last words. There’s a part of me that
just wants you to ask Leisy your question again, and even if we cannot answer
it here tonight in this room, if we could take it with us, if you could frame that up for us so that we can follow
through as we leave here and go to the next places,
the next borders, et cetera. – Well, I offered up the
idea of settler colonialism as a way to think about why
borders exist in the first place and it kind of ties
back up to your question about climate change and the
worldviews that are prevalent in the United States that
don’t allow us to recognize how we really are in it
with the rest of the world. We think only of ourselves, right? That’s part of the
worldview that is set up in the foundations of settler colonialism as it plays out here, and just to recognize
that some of the people that are seeking asylum right now and not allowed to cross
the border into the U.S. who have been there for months, are people who are coming
here due to climate change. That and mining and all the
other extractive activities from foreigners in their countries, and if we are seeing what’s
happening and not reacting, we have to recognize this is
only going to increase in size and we have to have better responses. – Last word? – Yeah, following up on that I would say also thinking of the border
as a illusive construct really that only exists due to extent that we consider it meaningful. It’s not a physical space. It’s a rule that, as a
society we give meaning to and it extend beyond national borders. The border extends into
what we see here in L.A., so think about how notions
of borders and bordering are not exclusively in the
north or south of the country but how they really permeate the way that we design a society. – I think this mic doesn’t work, so if you wanted to have
a last word, Hiroshi, and we’ll end right there. – Well, I was thinking
about the prompt really, what is citizenship? In some ways I think citizenship is just a type of membership. It’s a type of belonging. It’s a word that we use for that. But then what is belonging? I think a lot of the way
I think about belonging is it’s an important part of identity. All those terms, citizenship,
belonging, identity, they really cut both ways. They can give us our sense of self and we can use it for good
or we can use it for bad. I think that’s a struggle we all have. – Thank you to the three of
you for a tremendous evening. – Thank you. (audience applauding) – Thank you to you all for
weathering Tuesday night, ninth week. Have a great week and long weekend.

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