Feb 10, 2014: 'From the Hoodie to the Hijab': Trayvon Martin, Shaima Alawadi and the Racialization of Murder

full name / name of organization: 
Stanley Doyle-Wood: The Transitional Year Program/Dept of Equity Studies, University of Toronto

From the Hoodie to the Hijab: Trayvon Martin, Shaima Alawadi and the Racialization of Murder**

The racialization of murder is a fundamental part of racial ordering. Labeling lives as worthy of life and others for destruction and murder forces us to ask important questions about who lives, who dies, and what processes of dehumanization allowed for the killings of Emmett Till, Sean Bell, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Stephen Lawrence, Cynthia Jarret, Mark Duggan, Reena Virk, Helen Betty Osborne, Shaima Alawadi, and many others. This project will serve as a locus for inquiry about the poetics of racial violence, particularly murder. What are the structural, symbolic, and socio-historical causes of death and murder for racialised bodies, and how can we understand the occurrence of racist murders within the broader context of ongoing and multiple deaths, both 'extraordinary' and banal in nature?

We seek to explore the important nexus between individual murders and state sponsored violence and murder. This project aims to provoke a deeper analysis of the biopolitics of racial presence, and the threat that racialised bodies pose to the nation-state merely by existing. Our goal is to historicize murder as a political object/tool, and understand the daily, multiple deaths that racialised bodies incur as part of the imperatives of the nation-state and racial ordering therein. In addition, this project aims to disturb the way we view murder as both ordinary and extraordinary, and how the banality of racialised murder is indicative of a broader project of state sanctioned murder deployed in order to affirm the relative positions of racialised and dominant bodies within a defined racial order. We ask: what are the signs that colourize and racialise folks of colour? What other signs and symbols [hoodies, hijabs, etc] mark, racialize and colourize peoples for death? What structural or symbolic acts of violence killed Trayvon Martin or Shaima Alawadi? We hope to illuminate the manifest and latent reproductions of murder including the symbolic, structural, and corporeal murders that racialised folks experience daily, constantly.

This project will also provide a space for inquiry about the links between targeted individual and mass murder alike. What connects the massacre of Oak Creek to the racist vigilantism of George Zimmerman? We hope to interrogate the ways in which people of colour are racialised and coded for murder and destruction at both individual and group levels. Here, we understand the necessary contribution of state sanctioned physical and symbolic violence towards the murder of Trayvon Martin, the massacre at Oak Creek, and indeed the targeting of Indigenous communities (particularly women) as theatres for exclusion, death, and infrahumanity.

Finally, we offer this project as a space for acknowledging and buttressing important, ongoing acts of resistance to violence and murder. Who speaks back to murder? How do Trayvon Martin, Mark Duggan and others speak back to murder? How did Emmitt Till speak back to the violent state that was accomplice to his murder? How can we support these bodies both awake and dead in speaking back as an act of spiritual and political resistance in the face of ongoing murders and the threat of death? This exploration will rely on a number of different methods—we encourage analyses of imagery/iconography, hermeneutics, poetry, personal reflections/essays, and interviews. Submissions should be no longer than 5,000 words and should include appropriate credits and citations (APA for academic essay submissions). All submissions should be made to stan.doyle.wood@utoronto.ca by June 1, 2014 at 5:00 pm.

Stanley Doyle-Wood, Bedour Alagraa, Gurpreet Johal.

Dr Stan Doyle-Wood Ph.D.
The Transitional Year Program
49, St George St,
Toronto, ONT.M5S 2E5
University of Toronto.
Voice: 416 978 4532:
Dept of Equity Studies
New College, University of Toronto"
Email: stan.doyle.wood@utoronto.ca