"Unsettling Citizenship: Sexuality, Race, and the History of Naturalization in the U.S."
Presented by Siobhan B. Somerville, Associate Professor, Department of English and the Gender and Women's Studies Program, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Recent controversies over immigration, naturalization, and citizenship have brought heightened attention to the ways in which race and racism have historically shaped understandings of national belonging in the U.S. Less pronounced in these debates are questions about how sexuality has been entwined with racial discourses in immigration and naturalization policy. Drawing on research for my current book project, this talk explores the stakes of using a queer approach to understand the history of naturalized citizenship in the U.S., arguing that it allows us to see not only the intertwined history of sexuality and race in immigration policy, but also the larger role that naturalization has played in a settler colonial project that has mobilized sexuality, race, and indigeneity to construct the figure of the U.S. citizen.
Siobhan Somerville is an Associate Professor in the Department of English and the Gender & Women’s Studies Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Somerville’s expertise includes feminist theory, queer studies, and American literature. She has written extensively on the intersection of race and sexuality in U.S. literature and history, and is currently studying immigration law and U.S. citizenship. Her publications include Queering the Color Line: Race and the Invention of Homosexuality in American Culture (Duke University Press, 2000) and “Notes Toward a Queer History of Naturalization” in American Quarterly 57.3 (2005): 659-675.
*A reception honoring the Coley family will precede the lecture at 11:30 a.m.