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Lisa Lowe.jpg


Tufts University & Yale University


Metaphors of Migration

This talk considers the dilemmas of representing contemporary migration in discourses of national security, humanitarianism, migrant activism, and the arts. Whether as foreign threat or suffering victim, the state produces "the migrant" as the limit of national sovereignty, social order, and liberal personhood, even as it seeks to translate the “migrant" into the “immigrant" through regimes of visibility, legality, and temporality in the political sphere, laying claim to migrant labor in the economic sphere, and subjecting what remains to humanist concepts of free will and autonomy. Activist projects and aesthetic works offer other vocabularies with which to represent migration,and other means to frame the political beyond normative ideas of citizenship in the nation-state.


Lisa Lowe

Ph.D. Literature, University of California, Santa Cruz
B.A. History, Stanford University



  • Comparative literature

  • British empire

  • U.S.-Asia studies

  • Transnational feminism





  • The Intimacies of Four Continents (Duke University Press, 2015)

  • The Politics of Culture in the Shadow of Capital, with D. Lloyd (Duke University Press, 1997)

  • Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics (Duke University Press, 1996)

  • Critical Terrains: French and British Orientalisms (Cornell University Press, 1991)


Recent Essays and Articles:

  • "Globalization," Keywords for American Cultural Studies, Second Ed., B. Burgett and G. Hendler, eds. (NYU Press, 2014

  • "Reckoning Nation and Empire," Blackwell Companion to American Studies, J.C. Rowe, ed. (Blackwell 2010)

  • "Metaphors of Globalization," Interdisciplinarity and Social Justice, R. Samantrai, et al., eds. (SUNY Press, 2010)

  • "Autobiography Out of Empire," Small Axe 28, Vol 13, No 1 (2009): 98-111

  • "The Gender of Sovereignty," The Scholar and the Feminist, Vol. 6.3 (Summer 2008)

  • "The Intimacies of Four Continents," Haunted By Empire: Geographies of Intimacy in North American History, A.L. Stoler, ed. (Duke University Press, 2006)

  • "Insufficient Difference," Ethnicities 4: 3 (2005): 409-414

  • "The International within the National," The Futures of American Studies, R. Weigman and D. Pease, eds. (Duke University Press, 2003)

  • "Immigrant Literatures: A Modern Structure of Feeling," Literature on the Move: Comparing Diasporic Ethnicities in Europe and the Americas, D. Marçais et al., eds. (Carl Winter, 2002)

  • "Utopia and Modernity: Some Observations from the Border," Rethinking Marxism 13/2 (Spring 2001): 10-18

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