By Aihwa Ong
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Extra resources for Buddha Is Hiding: Refugees, Citizenship, the New America (Public Anthropology, 5)
7 And “the rights of man” were repeatedly violated as the sheer humanity of refugees was often not sufﬁcient in itself for them to receive political asylum abroad. Even when accepted by a host country, refugees of ethno-racial and cultural backgrounds different from those of the dominant majority were subjected to questions about their worthiness as new citizens. Despite the lip service paid to the principles of human rights, modern political sovereignty is based on the power to exclude or kill what Agamben calls “bare life,” in order to constitute the foundation of the nation-state and deﬁne the status of citizenship in biopolitical terms.
While many are plagued by nightmares of death, destruction, and ﬂight, they also dream of home villages, orchards full of fruit-bearing trees, ﬂourishing rice paddies (see ﬁgure 1), and large families. To their way of thinking, this was a time when they were real Cambodians, before the wars of the 1970s, before they became known as Cambodian refugees, before their families and culture were torn asunder and they had to become different kinds of people. They saw their lives as moving through a series of stages: before Pol Pot time, Pol Pot time, America, the future.
It seems that social interventions and regulations are producing for minority populations a feminine sociality that has elements of a contractualist connection with the wider society, while ethnic male sociality remains intracommunity and disempowered. Ethno-racial stereotypes operate as branding mechanisms directed at citizen-subjects considered to be at risk, who are measured according to the economic calculus. The bipolar racializing scheme is a social regulatory scheme that situates such at-risk subjects along the continuum of more or less likely to succeed.
Buddha Is Hiding: Refugees, Citizenship, the New America (Public Anthropology, 5) by Aihwa Ong