Religion, Gender and the Politics of State Security
Yale University

September 14-16, 2017
With support from the Henry Luce Foundation and the Edward J. and Dorothy Clarke Kempf Memorial Fund.

Whitney Humanities Center, 53 Wall Street, Room 108

6:00pm: Welcome Reception and Dinner

Featuring the exhibition, Critical Refuge: Sculptures by Mohamad Hafez
A student-curated collaboration advised by Zareena Grewal and Najwa Mayer.

Remarks by artist, Mohamad Hafez.

Hall of Graduate Studies, 320 York Street, Room 211

9:00-9:15am:  Introduction: Inderpal Grewal, American Studies and Women Gender and Sexuality Studies, Yale University
Zareena Grewal, American Studies, Yale University

9:15-11am: Roundtable: What is the security state? What is the place of religion in the security state?
This opening roundtable invites participants to reflect on their own scholarly work over the years, public engagement, and activism on issues related to the security state. Drawing on their respective work, they will attend to the varying histories, features, and interrelations of contemporary security states. The roundtable asks not only “what is the security state” but also “what does critical security state studies look like.” What are some of the key ways in which the targets and optics of security have changed over the decades – both in distinct geographies as well as in their transnational inter-relations?  How have certain religious populations come to be produced and managed through gendered and racial technologies of control in the name of security? What academic genealogies and trends might guide our inquiries and concerns? Who are our contemporary interlocutors – and what has, historically speaking, been the role of public cultures and public spheres in relation to the study of security projects? From heterogeneous sites, moments, and practices of study, we will situate our multiple political presents in relation to divergent and cooperative histories of securitized governance. This wide-ranging roundtable will build the groundwork for our conversation over the next two days.

Chair: Cindi Katz, Geography in Environmental Psychology & Women’s Studies,  CUNY Graduate Center
Maryam Al Khawaja, Gulf Center for Human Rights
Catherine Lutz, Anthropology & International Studies, Brown University
Asli Bali, Law, UCLA School of Law
Sylvester Johnson, African American Studies, Virginia Tech

11-11:15am: Break

11:15-1pm: Panel 1: Imperial Legacies, Transnational Religious Networks, and Global Security
This panel will examine historical logics of control in order to situate our understandings of current struggles. While the contemporary forms of the security state have contextual specificities, colonial legacies of dispossession, disenfranchisement, and racial violence testify to common experiences for those who bear the brunt of these tactics. Participants will trace the racial, religious, and gendered manifestations and currents in what might be called an imperial/colonial pool of repression and state power. Through what matrices, subjects, and infrastructures are the security state globalized, and in what ways do tactics of religious minoritization and gendered power intersect? Conversely, how do transnational religious networks and global security concerns intersect? Panelists will think about some of these intersections, circulations, and reconfigurations both historically and in the present. Understanding these imperial legacies and contemporary transnational currents is crucial, because, as Cedric Robinson reminds us, “regimes themselves are unrelentingly hostile to their exhibition”.

Chair: Rosie Bsheer, History, Yale University
Gavriel Cutipa-Zorn, American Studies, Yale University
Kevin O’Neill, Religion, University of Toronto
Melani McAlister, American Studies, George Washington University
Malcolm Shanks, Race Forward: Center for Racial Innovation
Discussant: Darryl Li, University of Chicago

1-2pm: Lunch

2-3pm: Keynote: Eyal Weizman, Goldsmiths, University of London


3:15-5pm: Panel 2: Policing, Militarization and ‘Terror’: Religious Minorities and Lives that Matter
This panel considers the mobilization of the language of terror in the construction of racialized, gendered, and sexualized enemy others, alongside the expansion of policing in public and private spaces. From Kashmir to Kenya, Tunisia, and the United States, papers will explore how religious minorities shape and are shaped by transnational structures of militarization, surveillance, and state-sponsored terror. They will examine how these structures unfold in public life with concomitant implications for debate, participatory politics, and religious practice, as well as for class imaginaries and socio-economic well-being. Participants will also consider the “private” domain and how these structures permeate the home, with attendant consequences for kinship and gender relations. How do the objects of state security and counter-terror practices interpret and contest discourses and policies about lives that matter?

Chair: Eda Pepi, WGSS, Yale University
Samar Al-Bulushi, Anthropology, U.C. Irvine
Ather Zia, Anthropology and Gender Studies program, University of Northern Colorado
Junaid Rana, Asian American Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Corinna Mullin, Politics, University of Tunis
Discussant: Deepa Kumar,  Journalism and Media Studies, Rutgers University-New Brunswick

6:00pm: Dinner

Hall of Graduate Studies, 320 York Street Room 211

9:00-10:45am: Panel 3: Visualizing (In)securities: Cultural Economies, Faith Communities and Expressive Forms
Contemporary security states are heavily administered through optical technologies and reproduced through representational genres and transmissions of culture. We know that the visual realm is central to projects of security, war-making, and empire—be it border governance, biometric surveillance, bodily and psychological torture, physical detention, population management, or drone warfare.  Visual frames are pivotal to the gendered and racial construction as well as the physical and social destruction of target populations. While visual technologies both enable and shape the exercise of power, they also contribute expressive resources toward its resistances. This panel will seek to enrich our political imaginations and academic studies of social life of religious minorities under security regimes through the practices and circulations of public and faith cultures—including art, music, religious ritual, and narrative. We will address the material economies of production, commodification, and dissemination in addition to the lived practices of creation, performance, and social or faith communities in relation to the violent technologies of securitized governance. Though we begin with the realm of visuality and its dominant authorities in producing gendered racial knowledges, bodies, and spaces, we will also invoke visuality’s simultaneous logic in making invisible, uncounted, or disappeared. We will interrogate beyond the visual field, too, in order to consider those conjoined affective, sensory, and narrative modalities engaged in the projects of securing bodies as well as in the expressive praxis of insecure subjects– with particular attention to state-targeted religious communities. For instance, we may consider the spatializations and ritualizations of sound, the pained and intimate registers of touch, the authorizing and resilient exercises of narrative, the moralizing and connective politics of emotion. How are overwhelming visions of security interpreted, challenged, or re-imagined through expressive forms?

Chair: Kathryn Lofton, Religious Studies, Yale University
Deepti Misri, Women & Gender Studies, University of Colorado, Boulder
Mehammed Mack, French Studies, Smith College
Najwa Mayer, American Studies, Yale University
Discussant: Zareena Grewal, American Studies, Yale University

10:45-11am: Break

11-12:45pm: Panel 4: Gendering Slow Violence in Religious Communities: Time, Intimacies, and Affect
To borrow Rob Nixon’s (2011) words as he conceptualizes “slow violence”, violence, is “a contest not only over space, or bodies, or resources, but also over time”. We know that violence in the present is often about controlling the narratives of the past and the future. This is explicit in emotive public discourses around ‘security’ yet the entanglements of emotion, temporality, and violence in the life of security projects are not always so visible; they may unfold not only in the language of kinship but also be located in intimate domains. This panel considers how structures of militarized power are personalized to be entrenched and powerful, even as the family or the domestic are often invoked to enforce/maintain boundaries between the personal and the political. How are different affective modes and gendered subjectivities mobilized in service of state security projects? In parsing out these intimate and affective modes of state security projects, how do we understand the toll on gender roles and relations and religious practices within minority communities? How and why do memory and questions of time become central to delegitimizing political claims even as they are pressed forward by individuals and communities? In these different ways, panelists consider the intimate rhythms and forms of affect in experiences of and living with exclusionary nationalisms, militarization, and surveillance across a range of contexts.

Chair: Narges Erami, Anthropology, Yale University
Sahana Ghosh, Anthropology, Yale University
Anila Daulatzai, Anthropology, Independent Scholar
Inderpal Grewal and Sasha Sabbarwal, American Studies, Yale University
Catherine Besteman, Anthropology, Colby College
Discussant:  Mayanthi Fernando, Anthropology, U.C. Santa Cruz

12:45-1:30pm: Lunch

1:30-2:30pm: Ethics & Research in Insecure Spaces: An Informal Discussion
In the context of asymmetrical surveillance regimes and deepening insecurities, how do we negotiate relations with the populations with whom we research, study, and write? This will be a space for an open discussion about research methods and challenges, including concerns about the university’s own role in surveillance and concomitant implications for how research agendas are shaped.
Facilitator:  Jaskiran Dhillon, Anthropology, New School

2:30-4:00pm: Roundtable: Gender, Religion, and the Politics of State Security: Critique, Policy, and Political Engagement
Our concluding roundtable will reflect on the work shared and consider future steps. From universities to religious institutions, these are capacious sites for both normative and critical conversations on contemporary security state projects. How do we reckon with the security state from academic sites with complicated histories of knowledge production, distribution, and application – especially in relation to policy? Given the complexities of policy work (in terms of audiences, agendas, and lines of accountability), what are some of the ways in which scholarly critique and policy-formulation can be in dialogue? Concurrently, how can our work build on or be in dialogue with the work of activists, artists, and religious institutions? What forms of political engagement and critique are constructive at this time?

Chair/Moderator: Inderpal Grewal & Zareena Grewal
Neloufer de Mel, English, University of Colombo
Anila Daulatzai, Anthropology, Independent Scholar
Ramzi Kassem, Law, CUNY School of Law
Maja Horn, Spanish and Latin American Cultures, Barnard College