Esmeralda Arrizon-Palomera

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities

20212022 Forum on Migration

Esmeralda Arrizon-Palomera

English

Cornell University, 2020

Esmeralda Arrizón-Palomera earned her Ph.D. in English Language and Literature from Cornell University in August 2020. She specializes in U.S. Latinx and African American Literature and culture with a focus on race, gender, and migration. Her current book project, The Coloniality of Citizenship and the Turn to the Undocumented in Feminist Thought, studies the work the undocumented immigrant, its presence and absence, has enabled in feminist history, theory, and literature from the mid-nineteenth century to the late twentieth century. Her work has been supported by the Ford Foundation and appears in Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies, Latino Studies, MELUS, and DreamersAdrift.

The Coloniality of Citizenship and the Turn to the Undocumented in Feminist Thought

My book project examines the work the undocumented immigrant, its presence and absence, has enabled in feminist history, theory, and literature, from the mid-nineteenth century to the late-twentieth century, and argues that the undocumented immigrant is central to the development of U.S. feminist thought. Specifically, this project calls attention to and traces a theoretical shift in U.S. feminist thought, what I term the turn to the undocumented, where citizenship is replaced by undocumentedness, a multidimensional experience that is not simply a result of the modern immigration regime but is rather a result of interlocking oppressions and resistance to them, as the organizing rubric in feminist thinking and organizing. This process, as this project demonstrates, begins with feminist thinkers’ recognition of the coloniality of citizenship, by which I mean, legal citizenship’s function as a mechanism for the perpetuation of colonial forms of domination, and is followed by a rejection of the institution of legal citizenship that is enacted through the trope of the papers, what I define in this project as the use of legal and extralegal documents in Black and Chicana feminist writings to interrogate both the limitations of legal citizenship and the liberatory potential in the abolition of this institution.