2019 American Studies Association Panel: "Risky Places: Geographies of Race and Risk"

deadline for submissions: 
January 27, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Jamal Batts & Brittany Meché / UC Berkeley
contact email: 

We seek interdisciplinary papers for a proposed panel at the 2019 American Studies Association conference (Honolulu, Hawai'i, November 7-10 2019) investigating the overlapping geographies of race and risk. While scholars have primarily emphasized risk as a modality of liberal governance and a technology of rule, our approach considers the Janus-faced character of risk as possible emancipatory performance—a rejection of propriety—and risk as a key technique through which regimes of surveillance (Browne 2015), calculation (McKittrick 2014; Snorton 2017), and security (Masco 2014) operate. If, as Stuart Hall (1978) and Judith Butler (2006) teach us, moral panics have a history, how do genealogies of race provide the conditions of possibility for delimiting risk in the modern world? What are the paradigmatic subjects and sites of riskiness? And paradoxically, can one revel in risk and risk-taking (Bailey 2016; Scott 2010)? Can one learn to live with and through the inherent riskiness of racial subjectivity? We seek to conceptualize modalities of risk that bridge multiple places: the bathhouse and the prison (Dean 2009; Gilmore 2009); hurricane-affected islands (Bonilla 2018; LeBrón 2017); contaminated human and other-than-human environments (Agard-Jones 2014; Chen 2012). We question how risk is measured and represented, following recent interventions within Black and Post/De-Colonial Studies that interrogate how racial/sexual “Others” are rendered ontologically risky (Ferguson 2004; Hunt 2014; Jackson 2014; Somerville 2000). We seek papers that work across multiple disciplinary fields, including: Geography; Visual Studies; Science and Technology Studies; Art History; Gender and Sexuality Studies; Postcolonial and De-Colonial Studies; Surveillance and Security Studies. 


Please send abstracts of 250-300 words to Jamal Batts (jbatts@berkeley.edu) and Brittany Meché (brittany.meche@berkeley.edu) by January 27th, 2019.


Possible Paper Themes:


Risk-taking, Riskiness, Queer and Gendered Performances of Risk;

Panic, Danger, and Affects of Risk;

Calculation, Measurement, and Indices of Risk;

Health, Disease, Risk as Embodiment;

Race, Ecology, and Materialities of Place;

Surveillance and Spaces of Risk: Borders, Frontiers, Prisons, Plantations;

Racial Formation, Beloved Community, and Emancipatory Place-Making with and beyond Risk.





Agard-Jones, Vanessa. 2014. “Spray.” Commonplaces: Itemizing the Technological Present. Somatosphere. http://somatosphere.net/2014/05/spray.html(accessed 15 January 2019).

Bailey, Marlon M. 2016. “Black Gay (Raw) Sex.” In No Tea, No Shade: New Writings in Black Queer Studies, 239–61. Durham: Duke University Press.

Bonilla, Yarimar. 2018. “For Investors, Puerto Rico is a Fantasy Blank Slate: How Tech Companies and Private Capital are Poised to Reshape the US Colony.” The Nation. https://www.thenation.com/article/for-investors-puerto-rico-is-a-fantasy-blank-slate/(accessed 15 January 2019). 

Browne, Simone. 2015. Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness. Durham: Duke University Press.

Butler, Judith. 2006. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge.

Chen, Mel. 2012. Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect. Durham: Duke University Press.

Dean, Tim. 2009. Unlimited Intimacy: Reflections on the Subculture of Barebacking. Chicago ; London: University Of Chicago Press.

Ferguson, Roderick. 2003. Aberrations In Black: Toward A Queer Of Color Critique. Minneapolis: Univ Of Minnesota Press.

Gilmore, Ruth Wilson. 2009. “Race, Prisons and War: Scenes from the Gilmore History of US Violence.” Socialist Register, 45(1).

Hall, S. et al. 1978. Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State and Law and Order. London: Macmillan.

Hunt, Sarah. 2014. “Ontologies of Indigeneity: The Politics of Embodying a Concept.” Cultural Geographies, 21(1), 27-32.

Jackson, Shona. 2014. “Risk, Blackness, and Postcolonial Studies: An Introduction. Callaloo, 37(1), 63-68.

Lebrón, Marisol. 2017. “Congress Could Help Puerto Rico Recover. What’s Stopping It?” The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/commentisfree/2017/sep/27/puerto-rico-debt-recovery(accessed 15 January 2019).

Masco, Joseph. 2014. The Theater of Operations: National Security Affect from the Cold War to the War on Terror. Durham: Duke UP.

McKittrick, Katherine. 2014. “Mathematics Black Life.” The Black Scholar, 44(2), 16-28.

Scott, Darieck. 2010. Extravagant Abjection: Blackness, Power, and Sexuality in the African American Literary Imagination. New York: NYU Press.

Snorton, C. Riley. 2017. Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Somerville, Siobhan B. 2000. Queering the Color Line: Race and the Invention of Homosexuality in American Culture. Durham: Duke University Press.