Don’t ask me anything about this till after the Law school applications are in, hopefully mid-December.
This paper begins with an investigation of the lives of some undocumented students living in the United States who have been raised as Americans, but not seen as belonging to America. Historically, the notion of citizenship emerged with the abstract idea of the nation; citizens being the free romanticized abstract subjects belonging to an imagined space or community with allegiance only to the nation. With a discourse opposed to the hegemonic idea of national belonging, the ‘illegal’ or undocumented person has long threatened this free romanticized vision of the citizen, and hence the hegemonic project of the nation.
To be fundamentally American and yet marked as a political, social and cultural ‘Other’ means little legal redress, few job opportunities, multiple conflicting identities, and bleak prospects to eventual citizenship and national belonging for the undocumented student. Using original interviews with undocumented students fighting for the DREAM Act and their narratives, this paper seeks to answer the following questions: How do these undocumented students create spaces for themselves? How do they resist or come to terms with their statelessness, battle the label of an ‘illegal’ and the markings of racialized foreignness? The citizen/non-citizen, legal/illegal, inside/outside, us/them binary discourses that emerge in the political quagmire are seen as spatial placeholders and dividers that ultimately work for the nation-state project. Eventually, the paper deconstructs notions of the nation and nationhood, citizenship and belonging, renegotiating what it really means to be American.