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2020 Election Series: The Value of Citizenship

Greg Graham headshot

On Tuesday, Oct. 13,  Greg Graham, associate professor in the Clara Luper Department of  African and African American Studies at the University of Oklahoma, will discuss the value of citizenship. He will raise the current crisis in policing as part of a global crisis in the legitimacy of the state and posit that this manifests as a palpable depreciation in the value of citizenship in liberal democracies.

Throughout October, the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences is holding a series of lunch-hour discussions on topics related to the 2020 general election. The programs will be held on Zoom from noon to 12:50 p.m. Registration is required.

Register now.

About the speaker

In addition to his role at the University of Oklahoma, Greg Graham is the author of “Democratic Political Tragedy in the Postcolony” (2018). He received a PhD and MA in political science from Temple University and MSc and BA degrees from the University of the West Indies, Jamaica. His areas of specialization include African politics, Caribbean politics, Africana political thought, critical race theory, classical political theory and modern political theory.  

About the lecture topic

Drawing on Plato, Aime Cesaire and Frantz Fanon, Graham will raise the current crisis in policing as part of a global crisis in the legitimacy of the state that manifests as a palpable depreciation in the value of citizenship in liberal democracies. This widespread devaluation that is cause for much alarm is the festering of what has always been a latent feature of such societies. It is a festering namely of the underlying coloniality that demarcates the boundary between citizenship and that the lack thereof for certain groups in the state. This original coloniality has now oozed out onto the streets of so many countries and presents itself unabashedly for the scrutiny of the public gaze. The racial levies that kept the precarity of citizenship at bay have been ruptured and threaten to burst asunder. Such is evidenced by the deployment of the authoritarian tendencies that have presented themselves in response to popular concern over the implications of the devaluation of citizenship, and of human worth generally. To be short, predominantly white spaces like Portland, Oregon, come face-to-face with a dimension of what the Cameroonian scholar Achille Mbemebe has referred to as “the becoming black of the world.” In their own time Cesaire and Fanon discerned similarly how colonial systems of oppression and the technologies of domination they employ in time make their way to the center of global empire.