CFP: Late Identity: Outlasting the premises of identity in critical ethnic studies

CFP: Late Identity: Outlasting the premises of identity in critical ethnic studies

Call for Papers, March 1, 2016

Late Identity: Outlasting the premises of identity in critical ethnic studies

For better or worse, identity has been a dominant preoccupation in ethnic studies, and persists in critical ethnic studies. However, identity is often used in ways that present significant theoretical, methodological, and political problems which – if unaddressed – may undermine the otherwise robust commitments of the field. This themed issue invites papers which trouble the future of identity frames in critical ethnic studies. In particular, we welcome papers that address the problems created by the naturalized importance of identity for Indigenous sovereignty (Jackson 2012), self determination (Coulthard 2007), the politics of place (Lawrence 2012), trans/national organizing (Walcott 2003), the geopolitics of blackness (McKittrick 2006), and other pressing concerns. In other words, what has identity done for me lately?

The submission deadline for this Spring 2017 themed issue is March 1, 2016.

For submission guidelines, see

Please email inquiries to

The co-editors for this themed issue are: Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang

Most treatments of identity will say that it is complex, but in practice identity can have a flattening effect on theory, methodology, and analyses. Identity, as a typology, seems to require the reduction of unlike ontologies into static units for comparison and categorization

Powerful and inspired interventions on identity have been made over the past decade+ (Spillers 2003; Walcott 2003; McKittrick 2006; Nash 2008; Fujikane & Okamura 2008; Barker 2011; Hames-García 2011; Byrd  2011; Puar 2012; Jackson 2012; Lawrence 2012; Coulthard 2014; Wehieliye 2014; Moreton-Robinson 2015). Yet, identity still presides as a benchmark construct of ethnic studies. As a whole, this themed issue wonders whether identity is worthwhile to retain in critical ethnic studies, or whether the distinct (and varied) political concerns of the field invalidate its ongoing dogma. Identity as it is often deployed certainly has problems, especially with regard to scale, and its penchant for equivocation.

Identity is in part a code-word for race and if not race, state-based recognition, which is often already race-based (see Coulthard 2014 and Lawrence 2012). In this respect, identity does good service in directing attention to the significance of race and materiality of racism. Yet at the same time, identity can problematically equivocate Blackness with nonwhiteness/all people of color, thus obscuring antiblackness and its structures (Nash 2008; see also Walcott 2003). Identity can also mislabel Indigenous life and land as a racial category – which works against how Indigenous peoples understand Indigeneity (Byrd 2012). These are just a few of identity’s limitations.

To be clear we do not plan to publish propositions of post raciality, explorations of self identity,
identity formation, challenges to authenticity and essentialism, dismissals of tribal sovereignty, rehashings of hybridity, or studies that remain methodologically at the level of individual.

Critical Ethnic Studies provides a space for unique and insurgent critique among academic and activist intellectuals within ethnic studies. It invites interdisciplinary works that reposition the guiding assumptions of other fields, and engage the new methodologies, philosophies, and propositions of this emerging intellectual formation. It recognizes that distinct fields have been collapsed in the institutionalization of Ethnic Studies in universities, and presses back against equivocations which domesticate critique and action.

The Journal encourages and enacts several related, multilayered lines of inquiry. First, this journal questions the nation state model, paying attention to the present manifestations of colonialism, extra-national effects of globalization and privatization, as well as structural redevelopment programs on Indigenous people and people of color.

Second, this journal appraises the productive tensions between fields that have institutionalized together under the umbrella of Ethnic Studies. Particularly, Indigenous Studies has attended to ongoing settler colonialism and ongoing Indigenous resistance to occupation and erasure, whereas Ethnic Studies has often been vexed by the ways in which discussions of race, civil rights, immigration, labor exploitation, and inclusion may ignore settler colonialism.

Third, by explicitly foregrounding white supremacy as a logic and social formation intimately abetted by race and racism, the journal provide trenchant critiques of how and why race, racism, and antiblackness persist and not merely state or describe their persistence.

Fourth, the journal reflects intersectional, feminist and queer analyses that treat categories such as race, class, gender, and sexuality not as additive modes of identity, oppression, or discrimination—but rather as constitutive, as robust analytics for critically apprehending and theorizing alternatives.

The journal is published bi-annually by the University of Minnesota Press.

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Essay Submission Guidelines

Essays (between 6,000 and 10,000 words) should be prepared according to the most recent edition of the Chicago Manual of Style using endnotes and submitted electronically to

Please submit manuscripts in Microsoft Word. Author’s names should not appear on manuscripts. Instead, please include a separate document with the author’s name, email, work address, the title of the article, and abstract (250 words) with your electronic submission. Authors should eliminate any self-identifying information (such as notes or credits). References to the author’s work should be in third person.


Barker, Joanne. Native Acts: Law, Recognition, and Cultural Authenticity. Durham, Duke University Press, 2011.
Byrd, Jodi A. The transit of empire indigenous critiques of colonialism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011.
Coulthard, Glenn. “Subjects of Empire: Indigenous Peoples and the ‘Politics of Recognition’ in Canada.” Contemporary Political Theory 6 (2007): 437-460.
Fujikane, Candace and Jonathan Y. Okamura, eds. Asian Settler Colonialism: from Local Governance to the Habits of Everyday Life in Hawai’i. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2008.
Hames-García, Michael. Identity Complex:  Making the Case for Multiplicity. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011.
Jackson, Shona N. Creole Indigeneity: Between Myth and Nation in the Caribbean. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012.
Lawrence, Bonita. Fractured Homeland: Federal Recognition and Algonquin Identity in Ontario. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia Press, 2012.
McKittrick, Katherine. Demonic Grounds: Black Women and the Cartographies of Struggle. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006.
Moreton-Robinson, Aileen. The White Possessive: Property, Power, and Indigenous Sovereignty. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015.
Nash, Jennifer C. “Re-thinking Intersectionality.” Feminist Review 89 (2008): 1-15.
Puar, Jasbir K. “‘I Would Rather Be a Cyborg than a Goddess’:  Becoming-Intersectional in Assemblage Theory.” Philosophia 2.1 (2012): 49-66.
Spillers, Hortense. “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe:  An American Grammar Book.” In Black, White and in Color: Essays on American Literature and Culture, 203-229. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.
Walcott, Rinaldo. Black Like Who? Writing Black Canada. 2nd Edition. Toronto:  Insomniac Press, 2003.
Weheliye, Alexander G. Habeas Viscus:  Racializing Assemblages, Biopolitics, and Black Feminist Theories of the Human. Durham, Duke University Press, 2014.