April 15, 2021


Visit to register

6:15 pm – 8:45 pm

Event Organizer

Bernard Harcourt, Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought (CCCCT)

Event Sponsor

13/13 CCCT, Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought (CCCCT)

Event Co-Sponsor(s)

The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities, The Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and Columbia Global Center - Paris

Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought (CCCCT) presents 12/13 | OPEN BORDERS

Professors E. Tendayi Achiume, Seyla Benhabib, Joseph Carens, and Bernard E. Harcourt read and discuss:

“Migration as Decolonization” by E. Tendayi Achiume

“We Refugees” by Hannah Arendt

“The End of the 1951 Refugee Convention? Dilemmas of Sovereignty, Territoriality, and Human Rights” by Seyla Benhabib

On Borders: Territories, Legitimacy, and the Rights of Place by Paulina Ochoa Espejo

About this seminar:

“The feudal system was once deeply entrenched. So was the institution of slavery. For a long time, there was no real hope of changing those social systems. Yet criticism was still appropriate,” Joseph Carens argues. It is time, now, to ask fundamental questions about the justice of borders. This seminar will explore those questions in all their complexity, including the fraught relation between borders and colonialism. We will also discuss the movement to Abolish I.C.E.

“I think that the way the world is organized today is fundamentally unjust. It’s like feudalism in important respects. In a world of relatively closed borders like ours, citizenship is an inherited status and a source of privilege. Being born a citizen of a rich country in North America or Europe is a lot like being born into the nobility in the Middle Ages. It greatly enhances one’s life prospects (even if there are lesser and greater nobles). And being born a citizen of a poor country in Asia or Africa is a lot like being born into the peasantry in the Middle Ages. It greatly limits one’s life chances (even if there are some rich peasants and a few gain access to the nobility). These advantages and disadvantages are intimately linked to the restrictions on mobility that are characteristic of the modern state system, although the deepest problem is the vast inequality between states that makes so many people want to move. This is not the natural order of things. It is a set of social arrangements that human beings have constructed and that they maintain.”

— Joseph Carens, “When Immigrants Lose Their Human Rights,” New York Times

Abolition 13/13 information, including bibliographies, can be found here.

 The Heyman Center for the Humanities, Room B-101
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