Critical Refugee Studies Symposium (lunch served)

Yến Lê Espiritu and Evyn Lê Espiritu Gandhi

This event has passed.

206 Ingraham Hall
@ 10:30 am - 1:30 pm

Critical Refugee Studies Symposium

Co-sponsored by the Asian American Studies Program
and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies

Lecture 1

‘Livability’ and ‘Ungratefulness’:
A Refugee Critique of the Law and Humanitarianism

Yến Lê Espiritu
Distinguished Professor of Ethnic Studies
University of California-San Diego

This talk offers a refugee critique of the law and humanitarianism by moving resolutely toward formations of refugee livability and ungratefulness. It offers the concept of refugee “livability” to name the mundane, creative, and fearless possibilities of living, in refugees’ claims of the right to return, to stay, and to move audaciously—to be present everywhere. It then offers the concept of “ungratefulness” as a starting point for new and needed analytics that engage in “epistemic disobedience” of the colonial and unilateral knowledge production about refugees. As such, refugee “livability” and “ungratefulness” serve as points of access to distinctly discernible refugee agency and epistemology that break with the historically appointed role of refugees as seen entirely through a lens of precarity and gratitude.

Yến Lê Espiritu is Distinguished Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego. She has published extensively on Asian American communities, critical immigration and refugee studies, and U.S. colonialism and wars in Asia. A founding member of the Critical Refugee Studies Collective (CRSC), Espiritu is the lead author of Departures: An Introduction to Critical Refugee Studies (University of California Press, 2022), written collaboratively by CRSC members.


~ Lunch served from 11:30 AM – 12:15 PM ~

Lecture 2

*2024 Judith L. Ladinsky Lecture*

Archipelago of Resettlement:
Theorizing Refugee-Indigenous Solidarities
across the Refugee Settler Condition

Dr. Evyn Lê Espiritu Gandhi
Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies
University of California-Los Angeles

From April to November 1975, the US military processed over 112,000 Vietnamese refugees on the unincorporated territory of Guam; from 1977 to 1979, the State of Israel granted asylum and citizenship to 366 non-Jewish Vietnamese refugees. Evyn Lê Espiritu Gandhi analyzes these two cases to theorize what she calls the refugee settler condition: the fraught positionality of refugee subjects whose resettlement in a settler colonial state is predicated on the unjust dispossession of an Indigenous population. In this talk, Gandhi will offer tools for imagining emergent forms of decolonial solidarity between refugee settlers and Indigenous peoples.

Evyn Lê Espiritu Gandhi is an associate professor of Asian American Studies at UCLA (Tovaangar).  Her work engages critical refugee studies, comparative ethnic studies, and transpacific studies.  She is the author of Archipelago of Resettlement: Vietnamese Refugee Settlers and Decolonization across Guam and Israel-Palestine, published open access by University of California Press in April 2022, and co-editor with Vinh Nguyen of The Routledge Handbook of Refugee Narratives, published open access by Routledge in February 2023.  In summer 2022, Dr. Gandhi organized a public history exhibit entitled Remembering Saigon: From Vietnam to Guam.  She is currently working on a second book project, tentatively entitled Revisiting the Southern Question: South Korea, South Vietnam, and the US South.  Dr. Gandhi hosts a podcast, Distorted Footprints, through her Critical Refugee Studies class.

A recording will be available on the CSEAS YouTube channel following the event.