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Christine L. Williams, Chair CLA 3.306, Mailcode A1700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-6300

"Coloniality and the Urban Crisis", Professor Eric Tang

Fri, May 6, 2011 • 1:30 PM - 3:00 PM • Burdine 214

Sociology Department, Race and Ethnicity Speaker Series Talk, Friday May 6th, 1.30-3pm, Burdine 214

"Coloniality and the Urban Crisis", Professor Eric Tang

During the late-1960s, US black radicals looked abroad to the anti-colonial struggles in Southeast Asia for inspiration. They asserted that the black inner city was a veritable internal colony, one deserving of anti-colonial liberation modeled after struggles in the Third World: If the Vietnamese revolutionaries could win, so too could black urban America. I am interested in the “return” of that gaze– twenty years later— in the form of refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos who were resettled to US inner city neighborhoods in the throes of the urban crisis. The 1980s saw waves of new immigration to US cities, yet few if any immigrant groups other than Southeast Asian refugees—the direct subjects of US colonial and imperial projects— were resettled to the heart of the US urban crisis: neighborhoods marked by massive and compulsory black unemployment, the drug wars and rapidly decomposing housing stock. All of this begs the question:  As erstwhile subjects of late-twentieth century US colonialism, how were Southeast Asian refugees appropriated for the internal colonies of black urban America? Answering this question serves to underscore the coloniality of the present-day black condition; in other words, it allows us to concretely theorize the post-Civil Rights war on the black poor in its proper neocolonial framework. 

Professor Eric Tang is an Assistant Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies, and a core faculty member with the Center for Asian American Studies. He is also the director of the Social Justice Institute at the UT Community Engagement Center.  He served as a community organizer in the refugee neighborhoods of the Bronx, NY and as a board member of the Highlander Research and Action Center.  He is the author of several articles on race, immigration and social movements. He is currently completing a book on refugees and the US urban crisis.


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