Buddha Is Hiding: Refugees, Citizenship, the New America by Aihwa Ong

By Aihwa Ong

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Additional resources for Buddha Is Hiding: Refugees, Citizenship, the New America (Public Anthropology, 5)

Sample text

42 The concept of the American nation as a specific, racially homogeneous identity has been and continues to be the measure by which all potential citizens are situated as either integral or marginal to the nation. 43 Historically, the intertwining of race and economic performance has shaped the ways in which different immigrant groups have attained status and dignity, within a national ideology that projects worthy citizens as inherently white. The tendency to frame ideas about immigrants in terms of a bipolar racial order has persisted, and newcomers are located along the continuum from black to white.

34 A repertoire of techniques of power, informed by the human sciences, comes to constitute “the social,” defining categories of sexual deviants, criminals, and troublesome workers, in opposition to what is thereby considered “normal” society. Such social norms define which category of subjects is more or less valued as citizens of the nation. In Foucault’s terms, this exercise of government, “a rationalization that obeys—and this is its specificity—the internal rule of maximum economy,” is called liberalism.

The tendency to frame ideas about immigrants in terms of a bipolar racial order has persisted, and newcomers are located along the continuum from black to white. It is obvious that these racial categories are fundamentally about degrees of undeserving or deserving citizenship. Such relative positioning in the national moral order is not state policy, but rather part of the political unconscious that variously informs official action and public perception. 44 These processes of relative positioning, group status competition, and group status envy result in cultures becoming race-based traditions.

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