Panel on Deportation, Refugees and Exile Reply

This past week I participated in the Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities annual meeting.  Warren gave a great wrap up here, and Mai-Linh described the panel that we both participated on here. Below, I am posting the abstracts from my fellow panelists.  I will post a separate piece outlying my presentation.

The panel was chaired by Frank Snyder of Texas Wesleyan, who did a yeoman’s job of coordinating the panel.  It included myself presenting Re-Entering the Loneliness: Robert Penn Warren and the Exile;  Beth Caldwell of Thomas Jefferson Law School, presenting Clinging to Precedent in a Changing World: The Fiction that Deportation is not a Punishment;  and Quyen Vo, a very impressive student at UC Berkeley, presenting National Interest and International Legal Obligations in British Refugee Asylum.  Here are the abstracts in the order presented.

Beth Caldwell, Clinging to Precedent in a Changing World: The Fiction that Deportation is Not a Punishment

The Supreme Court decided that deportation is not a punishment in 1893. The decision was influenced by overt racism that characterized American society at the time. Since then, our societal norms have changed. However, the decision that deportation is not a punishment has remained the same. Although this core holding has not evolved over time, the Supreme Court reasoned in Trop v. Dulles that this characterization may be “highly fictional.” In 2010, the Court acknowledged that deportation may in fact be the most severe penalty resulting from a criminal conviction. The language the Court employs to discuss deportation seems to characterize deportation as a punishment. However, the Court has not explicitly reversed its 1893 decision that deportation is non-punitive. This paper explores the evolution of the case law and attempts to reconcile the Court’s evolving reasoning with its decision not to reverse or reconsider the ultimate question of whether deportation is a punishment. This inquiry is particularly important because deportation would be subject to review under the Eighth Amendment if it were defined as a punishment.

Quyen Vo, National interest and International Legal obligations in British Refugee Asylum, 1933-1951

 This paper considers how the British state’s refusal to acknowledge formally an asylum seeker’s refugee status affected the scope of British refugee asylum between 1933 and 1951; in the former year the first international refugee treaty emerged under the League of Nations, and in the latter a more comprehensive refugee convention was established under the United Nations. This paper argues that the British state sought to determine the entry of asylum seekers and rights of ‘refugees’ territorially present using primarily the national immigration law, which sought above all to protect and promote the national interests. By examining shifting boundaries between national immigration law and international refugee law, this paper highlights distinctions between citizen and alien, legal and illegal, and inclusion and exclusion that lie at the heart of British refugee asylum. More broadly, the analysis offers a richer historical understanding of the British state’s attitudes toward international refugee law.

Marc L. RoarkRe-entering the Loneliness: Robert Penn Warren and the Exile

How do exiles return to community? As Randy Hendricks has demonstrated, Robert Penn Warren uses as a principal literary figure the wanderer to describe his theories of racial relations, his concept of language, and his own place in the southern narrative. This paper explores Robert Penn Warren’s conceptions of the exile as tragic hero in the context of the law. Importantly, Warren’s wanderer’s always return home, a process that requires legal acceptance of the wanderer’s place in society

Law, Culture & the Humanities 2012: Panel on “Global Citizens: Violence and the Transnational Subject” 1

The following is cross-posted from Legal Lacuna.

This past weekend in Fort Worth, TX, I was pleased to be part of the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities. This year’s theme was “Representing Justice.” Tweets can be found at #ASLCH.

Audrey Golden, Nicolette Bruner, and I formed a law and literature panel called Global Citizens: Violence and the Transnational Subject, graciously chaired by Marc Roark of The Literary Table. Here are the paper abstracts:

Translating the ‘Self’ from Central and Eastern Europe: Putting Theory to Practice thought the Works of Aleksandar Hemon and W.G. Sebald by Audrey Golden

The second half of the twentieth century has borne witness to forced migration and statelessness in numbers previously unimaginable within modernity. Through the works of Aleksandar Hemon, a Bosnian-American émigré writer, and W.G. Sebald, a second-generation German novelist, this paper looks to the narratives of displaced persons and questions the role literary theory might play in imagining the processes of transnational movement and of internal “self-translation” that emigrants must undertake. This paper conceives a broader and more abstract model of “translation” that looks beyond natural language to include a cultural self-translation, and then asks if such a process is fraught with previously unimagined identity problems, or whether, although stemming from acts of violence, translating oneself might have ameliorative qualities for an individual caught between places, or in “nowhere” spaces.

Corporate Citizenship as U.S. Empire in Richard Harding Davis’s Soldiers of Fortune by Nicolette Bruner

Published in 1897, Richard Harding Davis’s novel, Soldiers of Fortune, describes the travails of a mining company that operates in the fictional Latin American country of Olancho, a thinly-veiled version of Cuba. The hero, filibustering engineer Robert Clay, facilitates the success of the corporation through military and financial interventions in Olancho. Meanwhile, Clay romances and marries Hope, the young daughter of the sole owner of the company’s stock. In this paper, I examine how Davis complicates the boundaries between corporate employer and human employee even as he glorifies the deeply unequal relation between U.S. corporations and the countries they exploited for profit. Corporate imperialism, as represented by the incursion of the U.S. citizen stockholder and his employees upon Latin American territory, becomes more than a matter of domination, but also an illustration of the complex interdependencies between business, storytelling, and violence in the fin de siècle.

Another Vietnam: War, The Archive, and the USS Kirk by Mai-Linh K. Hong

In late 2010, National Public Radio (NPR) aired a special series about the USS Kirk, a U.S. naval ship that was sent during the fall of Saigon to rescue the “remnants” of the South Vietnamese navy. The rescue was accomplished partly by transferring the Vietnamese ships’ sovereignty to the U.S. through a change of flags, a peaceful, quasi-legal transformation that dislodges the conventional Vietnam War narrative of violence and moral failure. Placing this “never before told” redemption story in the context of today’s U.S. war in Afghanistan, my project examines NPR’s historical revisionism and its production of a new visual iconography for the war that has haunted all later U.S. wars. I argue that, with “the archive” a site of suspense in the Wikileaks era, the rewriting of Vietnam must be understood as a response to contemporary anxieties about American imperialism, militarism, and national identity.

Wrap up from ASLCH in Fort Worth 1

A few notes from this year’s conference.

  • The Association of for the Study of Law, Culture and Humanities Conference ended yesterday with a fury.   Table contributors Mai-Linh Hong from Legal Lacuna, and Marc Roark each presented papers and participated together on a panel titled Global Citizens: Violence and the Transnational Subject.  Mai Linh presented a paper titled Another Vietnam: War, the Archive and the USS Kirk.  Marc presented Re-Entering the Loneliness: Robert Penn Warren and the Exile.   Perhaps they will post a brief write up on their respective papers.
  • The folks at Texas Wesleyan were all incredibly hospitable.  I understand one faculty member bought lunch for several guests on Saturday.  Southern hospitality never gets old.
  • The keynote address was incredible.  Judith Resnik and Dennis Curtis discussed their new book Re-Presenting Justice: Visual Narratives of Judgment and the Invention of Democratic Courts.  In the words of Austin Sarat, one of the respondents to the talk, the work represents “an audacious representation” and the “best for what we are attempting to do.”  I wanted to shell out $75.00 immediately.  The book looks incredible.  A Summary of the keynote was tweeted by Mai Linh.
  • If you were not following our TWEETS from the conference, you can access them here and here.  They are a little uneven, due to the depth of different talks.   Nevertheless, several were enjoyable.  I particularly enjoyed David Fisher’s Medea’s Laws: Reading Euripides’ Medea as Law and Literature.
  • This year’s conference was well done. Kudos to Linda Meyer and her organizing committee.  Next year’s conference is in London.

Live Tweeting from ASLCH Tomorrow #ASLCH Reply


Tomorrow and Saturday, myself (@warrenemerson) and Mai-Linh of Legal Lacuna (@legallacuna) will be live tweeting from the Association for the Study of Law Culture and Humanities.  Hashtag #ASLCH.  Follow us or come find us.  My offer still stands for a free drink to the winner.