Ruins of Homeland Security: Disaster, Displacement, and Renewal in Asian America (AAAS 2022)

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
AAAS 2022 / Jennie Snow
contact email: 

Seeking abstracts to be included with a panel proposal for AAAS 2022.  

Please send 250-word abstract and CV (no more than pages) to by Thursday, September 30. 


This panel invites multiple ways of thinking of crisis and disaster in the so-called era of the “Global War on Terror” by pivoting toward the strategically-ambiguous Department of Homeland Security. Now at the end of 2021, we are in a cultural, political, and intellectual moment that is turning back to the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and reflecting once again on how this event ushered in an era of intensified, xenophobic national security and military intervention abroad, jusified under the broad threat of terrorism. As Jodi Kim, Joseph Darda, Yên Lê Espiritu, and others have shown, this era is not “new” so much as the refinement of the American military-humanitarian state that has a long history of intervention, police actions, and recuperative humanitarian missions, particularly in Asia during the Cold War. Indeed, the messy evacuation of Afghanistan this past August directly echoed the evacuation of Saigon forty six years prior. At the same time, while the American military was responding to the racialized threat abroad, the newly-made Department of Homeland Security refined the extension of state power at home, introducing new technologies of surveillance, containment, displacement, discipline, and detention to target racialized communities. Shifting attention here brings into focus the ongoing climate crisis, experienced in irruptions of “natural” disaster, public health crises from Flint, Michigan to the covid-19 pandemic, as well as immigrant and refugee movements responding to crises around the world, sometimes a direct result of American involvement abroad.


Centering the idea of ruins signals not only the “ruin-making” force of militarized-humanitarian intervention, but perhaps more importantly, what survives, remains, and persists. Panelists will respond to a broad landscape of disaster(s) to examine practices of resistance and invention, communities of care, and political futures beyond the nation-state. Focusing on Asian America, literature and media, this panel is also concerned with the unique layers of history embedded in the “ruins of homeland security” and will foreground questions of memory, intergenerational care and identity, witnessing, representation, and aesthetics that emerge around disaster, displacement, diaspora and renewal. 


This interdisciplinary panel welcomes a wide range of topics and perspectives, which may include but are certianly not limited to: 

- natural disasters and the climate crisis, e.g. Hurricane Katrina, California wildfires

- public health crises such as the water crisis in Flint, MI or the covid-19 pandemic

- immigration and refugee movements since 2001; bans, quotas, and politics of sanctuary

- refinements/expansion of the prison industrial complex

- Asian diaspora and Cold War inheritances

- human rights discourse and advocacy campaigns

- rhetorics of war, terrorism, islamophobia, racism, xenophobia, security, criminalization, etc. 

- indigenous studies and critiques of settler colonialsm 

- literature, photography, film, media from this period; aesthetics, memory, and documentary