World War I supplied a new field in the battle for freedom rights. Nearly four decades after the end of Reconstruction, African Americans still sought the basic rights of American citizens, and they pushed their fellow Americans to make the world safe for democracy at home as well as abroad. Their triumphs and failures would shape the subsequent civil rights movement and its aftermath.
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Citizenship and Crisis:
OSU Student Research Conference at the OSU Center for the Humanities
Both World War I and II lend to massive population displacements, and this talk examines the legacy of those events in terms of how they continue to drive immigration policy in contemporary Europe. In particular, it considers how the inheritance of those conflicts impacted the failure of the movement for a formal European Constitution. In May and June 2005, first France and then the Netherlands rejected the Treaty that would have established a European Constitution. Those “no” votes are typically attributed to fears about immigration, or that an integrated Europe would render the nation’s borders overly porous. This talk engages those debates about migration and the long aftermath of war through analyses of a series of recent European films that address assaults upon the human rights of unauthorized migrants and refugees. Films by the Dardenne brothers, Michael Haneke, and Stephen Frears all imagine controversies over immigration in what I describe as “biopolitical” terms, as they depict the disavowed immigrant labor that is vital to the European economy. In so doing, they further enlist the longstanding “body politic” metaphor for the nation in order to contend with various challenges that confront attempts to forge a political community that transcends the limits of state borders.
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