DEEPFAKE: A Rhetorical and Economic Alternative to Address the So-Called “Post-Truth Era”

Since Greek antiquity, there have been two fundamentally different conceptualizations of the search for truth. On the one hand, platonic politics proposed to control the city by subjecting political expression to the philosophical concept. On the other hand, the rhetorical tradition opposed the logocratic and universal claim of philosophy, in the name of the diversity of subjectivities and forms of life that composed the demos, and justified democratic deliberation as a form and process of agreement and democratic agency.

On May 10, 2023, Social Science Matrix hosted a symposium that aimed to develop a critique of the current debates about Post-Truth and fakeness, and specifically of Big Tech’s effort to frame the political expression of the demos as it solidifies its control over the digital economy. Going beyond calls for the prohibition of deepfakes, this conversation aimed to evaluate and exploit the rhetorical potential of deepfakes for democracy. Do deepfakes, through the circulation and reappropriation of symbolic images, have democratic value? How can we promote an alternative rhetorical paradigm to the alienating alliance of surveillance capitalism, computational capitalism, computational sciences, and data sciences?

Read the Argument

Organizer: Igor Galligo, Visiting Scholar, UC Berkeley Department of Rhetoric; Founder,

Funding and Scientific Partners: 

Scientific Partners at UC Berkeley:

Other Scientific Partner:

Saas-Fee Summer Institute of Art


Opening Remarks: Igor Galligo, UC Berkeley, UPL, NEST, Founder of

First Session: Rhetoric, Democracy and “Post-Truth”: How are rhetoric and fakeness consubstantial with democracy? To what conception of truth does the notion of “post-truth” correspond? And why is Post-Truth a problematic notion for the rhetorical tradition?

James Porter (UC Berkeley, Rhetoric Department)
Linda Kinstler (UC Berkeley, Rhetoric Department)
Chiara Cappelletto (State University of Milan, CSTMS)
– Collective discussion with the audience

Second Session: Subjectivity, Digital Computationalism and Artificial Intelligence: How does the theorization of contemporary computing, which gave birth to the Internet and artificial intelligence, and which is based on computationalism, constitute a problematic conception of subjectivity? How is this conception opposed to the rhetorical and hermeneutic tradition? What conceptions of truth are discarded by computationalism?

David Bates (UC Berkeley, Rhetoric Department)
Warren Neidich (Saas-Fee Summer Institute of Art)
Morgan Ames (UC Berkeley, School of Information, CSTMS)
– Collective discussion with the audience

Third Session: Critical Digital Rhetoric. What renewals can be made within the rhetorical tradition to adapt it to the digital political and Artificial Intelligence contexts? What critical political powers can digital rhetoric retain in the face of computational digital media, fed by data sciences in the new social spaces that are the Internet and social networks?

Nina Begus (UC Berkeley, CSTMS)
Justin Hodgson (Indiana University, Department of English)
Nathan Atkinson (UC Berkeley, Rhetoric Department)
– Collective discussion with the audience

Fourth Session: Computational Capitalism and Surveillance Capitalism in light of the Deepfake. What conceptions and productions of truth do computational capitalism and surveillance capitalism promote? And against what conceptions or practices of producing truth do they discriminate? To which social groups, does this discrimination pose problems of expression and individuation today?

Marion Fourcade (UC Berkeley, Social Sciences Matrix, N2PE)
Igor Galligo (UC Berkeley, UPL, NEST, Founder of
Konrad Posch (UC Berkeley, Political Science, N2PE)
– Collective discussion with the audience

Fifth Session: For a New Digital Political Economy of Deepfake: How to extend the digital political economy to the symbolic and iconic economy? What new rhetorical and hermeneutic economy of truth can political economy invent? What circuits of collective truth production can political economy develop to grant the deepfake political meaning and value?

Martin Kenney (UC Davis, Department of Human Ecology, BRIE)
Mark Nitzberg (UC Berkeley, BRIE, BCHC, BAIR)
John Zysman (UC Berkeley, BRIE, CITRIS)
– Collective discussion with the audience


Jews and Other Groups Who Resisted the Nazis: Means, Motivations, and Limitations

Recorded on April 28, 2023, this video features a series of talks and panels from an interdisciplinary, comparative symposium exploring what remains an under-examined topic in the history of World War II and the Holocaust: the multivarious paths through which ordinary men and women resisted the Nazis. While scholarship on the choices, backgrounds, and motivations of perpetrators and collaborators has become quite robust, it is only in recent years that resistance has received growing scholarly scrutiny.

At the one-day symposium, historians and sociologists focused on a variety of locales from Eastern Europe, to France to North Africa to the Netherlands, explored a range of subjects that illuminate distinctive paths of resistance, among both Jews and non-Jews. Through their case studies, they illuminated how factors that include religious community and theology, proximate danger, pre-war political engagement, and social geography could become decisive in the choice and circumstances of resistance.

Co-sponsored by UC Berkeley’s Center for Jewish Studies, Helen Diller Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies, and the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion, the symposium was coordinated by Dr. Ethan Katz, Associate Professor of History and Jewish Studies and 2022-2023 Matrix Faculty Fellow.

Welcome & Introduction (starts at 0:12)

  • Ethan Katz (UC Berkeley History & Center for Jewish Studies)

Panel: Religion and Resistance (starts at 12:31)

  • Robert Braun (UC Berkeley, Sociology & Center for Jewish Studies), “Religion and the Protection of Jews During the Holocaust: Evidence from the Netherlands”
  • Johanna Lehr (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum), “Biblical resistance and the Reinvention of French Judaism Under the Occupation”
  • Moderator: Deena Aranoff (Graduate Theological Union, Jewish Studies)

Second Panel: Structures of Resistance (starts at 1:49:55)

  • Rachel Einwohner (Purdue University, Sociology), “Certain-Risk Activism: Risk, Threat, and Participation in Jewish Resistance in Warsaw and Vilna”
  • Ethan Katz (UC Berkeley, History & Jewish Studies), “Paths of Resistance in Algiers: Family and Community as Decisive Factors”
  • Sarah Farmer (UC-Irvine, History), “Resistance and Rescue: Hidden Jews in Rural France”
  • Moderator: Alma Heckman (UC Santa Cruz, History & Jewish Studies)

Concluding Roundtable (starts at 3:44:16)


Roundtable with Orlando Patterson: The Nature and Invention of Freedom




Recorded on May 2, 2023, this video features a roundtable conversation with Orlando Patterson, John Cowles Professor of Sociology at Harvard University, focused on The Paradox of Freedom, an interview with Patterson by David Scott, originally published in Small Axe in 2013. In their long interview, Scott and Patterson discussed the sociologist and novelist’s childhood, education, public service, and books. The conversation reflected on Patterson’s intellectual biography and his groundbreaking analysis of the political entanglement between slavery and freedom.

Joining Patterson in conversation for this Social Science Matrix Roundtable were Ricarda Hammer, incoming Assistant Professor of Sociology at UC Berkeley, and Daniela Cammack, Assistant Professor of Political Science at UC Berkeley. The discussion was moderated by Caitlin Rosenthal, Associate Professor of History.

Listen to the presentation as a podcast below or on Google Podcasts or Apple Podcasts.

About the Paradox of Freedom

The Paradox of Freedom is an exploration of the life and work of Orlando Patterson, probing the relationship between the circumstances of his life from their beginnings in rural Jamaica to the present and the complex development of his intellectual work. A novelist and historical sociologist with an orientation toward public engagement, Patterson exemplifies one way of being a Jamaican and Black Atlantic intellectual.

At the generative center of Patterson’s work has been a fundamental inquiry into the internal dynamics of slavery as a mode of social and existential domination. What is most provocatively significant in his work on slavery is the way it yields a paradoxical insight into the problem of freedom – namely, that freedom was born existentially and historically from the degradation and parasitic inhumanity of slavery and was as much the creation of the enslaved as of their enslavers.

The Paradox of Freedom elucidates the pathways by which Patterson has both uncovered the relationship between domination and freedom and engaged intellectually and publicly with the struggles for equality and decolonization among descendants of the enslaved. It will be of great interest to students and scholars throughout the humanities and social sciences and to anyone interested in the work of one of the most important public intellectuals of our time.


“The Nature and Invention of Freedom”: Roundtable with Orlando Patterson


[MARION FOURCADE] Hello, everyone. Welcome, welcome, welcome. So for those of you who were here last night or who watched the lecture online, it was a phenomenal lecture and a wonderful exchange. Lots of energy came out of the room, I think. And we are eager to repeat this today.

So I’m just going to introduce our moderator, Caitlin. And she will introduce our speakers. So Caitlin Rosenthal is a historian of 18th and 19th century US history. Her research focuses on the development of management practices, especially those based on data analysis. She works at the intersection of qualitative and quantitative methods to understand business history, economic history, and labor history.

Her first book, titled, Accounting for Slavery: Masters and Management, which came out with Harvard University Press in 2018, won the Simkins Award of the Southern Historical Association, as well as the first book prize of the Economic History Society. So thank you, Caitlin, for moderating this panel, and I am so excited about the discussion that is to come.

[CAITLIN ROSENTHAL] Thank you. Thank you for that lovely introduction, and especially for this introduction to be part of such a wonderful and interdisciplinary panel. When I was preparing my introductions, Marion said that I could have a little bit of liberty to personalize, which I thought I would take advantage of the fact that we had already had one introduction so far.

I will say, briefly, that Professor Orlando Patterson, who’s, I’m sure, already known to many of you, is the John Cowles Professor of Sociology at Harvard. He is the author of six major academic books, of three novels, and of countless articles, and a long, long list of prizes.

The two things where I wanted to personalize– the first, I guess, is not so much personal to me, as it’s coming out of the reading that we did to prepare for today’s session, in which Professor Patterson reflects on what it means to be a public intellectual. And reading that description of what his work aspires to do, I couldn’t find a better description of what it has done.

His work, as he writes, and I will paraphrase slightly to make clear that it has been done, is that “His work enlightens some of the big issues of our time, such as freedom, democracy, and equality. It helps readers come to terms with the great evils of human history, such as genocide, slavery, colonialism, racism, classism, and colorism. And it helps people to be honest about how the past works in accounting for present outcomes.”

And I thought, in particular, that use of that word accounting, which is what I study myself, is figuring out how to account for the past and how to change based on it. And the little bit of personal inspiration I’ll take is that I quote Professor Patterson very, very often. It’s a phrase from a 1979 article in the New Left Review, where he describes the period of slavery that I study, which, of course, is not all slavery in all places, as “Merely capitalism with its clothes off.”

And that’s a phrase that has not only been mobile in my own work, helping me to think in new ways, but has helped me turn around the way I ask questions about slavery and capitalism. Turning this around to think not just about what capitalism and slavery can tell us together, but what slavery and the history of slavery more broadly can reveal about capitalism, and its flexibility, and the power relations that it covers up in most broad terms. So thank you for that phrase and also for the inspiration.

We’re going to start not with Professor Patterson, but with two prepared comments. And then we’ll turn the floor over to him to respond and then to all of you for comments. First, Daniela Cammack is an assistant professor of political science here at UC Berkeley. Her work focuses on democracy and its history in ancient Greek. And her book manuscript, Demos: How the People Ruled Athens, argues that the meanings and practices of democracy are marked by relations of domination.

Professor Cammack will be followed by Ricarda Hammer, an incoming assistant professor, joining us this summer in the Department of Sociology. Her work is at the intersection of global historical and postcolonial sociology. She received her PhD from Brown University in 2021.

And her book manuscript is titled, Citizenship and Colonial Difference: The Racial Politics of Rights and Rule Across the Black Atlantic. The book aims to build a new genealogy of rights formation by examining it through colonial struggle from the perspective of the enslaved and colonized in the colonial Caribbean.

So I will begin by turning it over to Daniela for her prepared remarks.

[DANIELA CAMMACK] Thank you so much. Oh, wow, it’s very loud. Great, I think everyone must be able to hear me. Is that correct? Good. Thank you so much, Caitlin. It is a huge honor and pleasure to be here, to have been asked to take part in this roundtable discussion.

I think it’s about 20 years since I first read some of Professor Patterson’s books, when I started my graduate studies at Harvard. And going back to them in the last few days has been even more exciting, and actually enlightening and pleasurable than the first time around. They really– they’re so rich. And I’m so full of respect and admiration for the work that you’ve done. Thank you so much.

So there are so many things that I wanted to flag as points that I find so compelling in the writing that Professor Patterson has shared with us today. So, for example, freedom conceived as power– I find that very persuasive.

The lack of any kind of platonic form of freedom as a concept, that also the thought that it doesn’t exist universally in the hearts of men, but rather is something constructed. I was thinking about Elaine Scarry’s distinction between the made up and the made real, and thinking that freedom is something that has been made up, and has subsequently been made real in the forms of discourses and the institutions that it’s worked to congeal, kind of coalesced around it.

Yeah, and not found everywhere on the globe but is a distinctive value within the Western tradition. I take that very seriously. I fully agree. And I also was– I was so pleased to discover something that I hadn’t fully realized before, was that so many of your intellectual heroes, I’ve also– I really look up to and admire. So we were just talking about Moses Finley. I’m half British. In the British tradition– EP Thompson and Eric Hobsbawm, these are people that I also really revere. And the early Marx of course, is a huge touchstone.

I wanted to ask– there are so many things, actually, that come up in my teaching. And I was thinking, wow, I could really take advantage of my few moments here to ask your opinion on some of the things that I tell my students and what do you make of this? I selected two. I have two general issues that come up in my writing and in my teaching that really touch on a lot of the arguments that you make.

So one has to do with power and the kind of power that the ancient Greek demos had and that maybe ordinary people would need to have in other contexts in order to be free, or when free. And another interest of mine is also going to be what to make of passages when the demos is itself represented as being a slave, how to think about those. So those will be the two main issues I want to think about.

So in terms of the different– the power that the demos has, or had, when being free, being eleftheros, Professor Patterson, very sensibly, distinguishes between the positive understanding of freedom, the power to– positive power to do things with respect to oneself, others, society. Also associated with the idea of being empowered or autonomous, as distinct from her negative power, power to resist compulsion, and a third kind, which he glosses as public power and associates with participation and equality.

I was very interested and pleased, very delighted to see your use of Emil Benveniste, his work on the concepts of kratos, the term kratos. I also followed him in my work. And I think his– I think his historical account of the kratos as a form of power, that obviously is really important for us, is the kind of power that is found in the term demokratia– demos and kratos. People often talk about that as people power or people ruling, rule by the people. There are different ways of glossing it.

And I just– I wanted to probe a little bit your take on kratos as a form of domination. You mention this in the extract from the forthcoming book, The Short History of Freedom. And I take that very seriously. I’ve also written about kratos as a form of domination. I read it as really a kind of prevailing power.

It’s the power to prevail over others is how I understand it. And I wondered if in your mind, when you think of the demos having kratos, are you thinking of the demos having power over others– others being doulos, being slaves in the first instance, possibly allies in an empire?

And what do you make of the claim that I would want to put to you, which is that possibly the most important form of kratos that you see in demokratia is the domination of the demos over the elite, over the political elite? But that may actually have been for the ancient Greeks the most important group over whom they would need to dominate, the demos, ordinary people, would need to dominate in order to be free. I think we can see that in the history of democracy. And I would really value your impressions of that.

I also wondered about them the relationship between kratos as prevailing power, the power to dominate, and a couple of other Greek terms for power. Because we tend to use that one term, power, in many, many different senses, of course. But the Greeks, I think– the ancient Greeks were much more differentiated in their understandings of different kinds of power. So kratos, the power to prevail, seems very different from being kurios, being authoritative or being an authority.

And that is another kind of power that the demos has within demokratia. It has the power to control– kind of sovereign power. We can think of it as sovereign authority. That’s a slightly different form, but I think also a very important ingredient in their conception of eleftheria, of freedom.

And another kind, again, is [GREEK], which is more like empire, or sway, or really office holding. Usually, in ancient Greek democratic texts you don’t find the demos talked about as having– as [GREEK]. There’s a couple of examples very early in the late 5th century.

But by the time you get to the 4th century, to have [GREEK] is really understood as being the kind of power that an office holder has as an individual, very distinct from the idea of power that the collective has. And the demos is always the collective.

So I just– I wondered if these different conceptualizations of power map on in any way to the ideas you have of power within freedom or if they feel, actually, very different from some of the arguments you’ve been making? So that’s one set of issues and thoughts.

So the second set of issues and thoughts I had was these passages where the demos– we find the demos represented as itself being a doulos– itself being a slave. Actually, often it’s with the use of the verb. So it’s often the demos is [GREEK]. It’s hard to know how to translate that. I’ve struggled with it ever since I first started learning ancient Greek. I wanted to say slaving away is one possible translation. Or you could also just say serving.

So the idea of the demos serving the elite comes up over and over again in the text, actually– again, from the late 5th century onwards, but, for example, in the old oligarch’s text, there’s several mentions of the demos serving the elite or risking having to serve the elite, to [GREEK] again if they didn’t keep the upper hand over the elite.

We also find it in Aristotle’s politics. He says there, flat out, that if the demos does not have the power to elect officeholders and hold them to account, then it is nothing but a doulos, or would be nothing but a doulos, a slave and a [GREEK], a hostile internal enemy.

So these passages always put me to some trouble when I’m teaching, actually. Because the students very naturally want to know what is being said about the demos here. Is the idea that the demos, without its political power– say, before Solon’s reforms, often comes up here, because before Solon’s reforms, the demos are described as a doulos to the [GREEK], so serving the– serving the nobility, serving the nobles.

And they want to know are we being told here that all the members of the demos literally were slaves, they were doulos to the elite? Or are we maybe being told that en masse they were conceived as dominated by the elite to such an extent maybe they’re constantly risking being turned into individual slaves with individual masses among the elite? Or is there some other way of understanding this?

I’ve always wondered, are we meant to understand– do you think we’re meant to take those passages literally or maybe more metaphorically, that the demos is being glossed as a slave or framed as a slave, when it doesn’t have full political power? Is that a metaphorical usage of the notion of doulos? Or might it be that it suggests that there was always a very political– what we would call a very political component to the notion of slavery from the very, very earliest texts?

That maybe the paradigm of the individual slave, perhaps in a household, in an oikos, serving one particular master, maybe that’s not the entire foundational paradigm. But maybe there’s a sense in which there’s a collective enslavement, maybe of the class. I’m thinking of Marx, the class of slave to the many– sorry, to the elite. Is that the way we should be thinking about that?

And then the final question I have on that theme would be something like, would you think that there is maybe a collective equivalent to your notion of social death? So as I understand it, that is operationalized at the level of the individual, that the slave within a household experiences this [GREEK] dishonor, before they’re in a household, but also. But is there an equivalent at the collective level? Or would that be slightly to misconceive or misrepresent the relations that you see obtaining between these different groups, that dominated and the dominators?

Thank you so much. I’ve so much enjoyed reading everything, your work, and the new work. It was a privilege to read some of the new work that’s coming out. And I can’t wait to see the full–

[ORLANDO PATTERSON] Thank you. Thank you very much.

[RICARDA HAMMER] OK, so thank you, Marion, Julia, and everybody else who was involved in putting together this really extraordinary conversation. I am overjoyed really to be in community with you all, finally. And it is such an honor to have this conversation with thee Orlando Patterson. It is so nice to meet you, if a little surreal. But thank you for sitting down with us and engaging us.

So I wrote my comments to keep myself on time. Now, it is fitting that the starting point for a discussion on Patterson’s writings on freedom is a biographical dialogue. His life experience in the Caribbean is the vantage point that shapes much of Patterson’s opus. For it the site that encompasses so many of the contradictions of the modern world.

Much like C.L.R. James, who positions the Haitian revolutionaries not as particular, but as world historical actors, Patterson shares with many intellectuals in the Caribbean tradition the ability to think from the Caribbean, but too, give us a perspective on the world.

In fact, in this interview with David Scott, Patterson explains that it was the celebration of Empire Day that brought inspiration for his monumental study on freedom. A young boy in colonial Jamaica, he was submerged in the unofficial anthem of the British Empire, “Rule, Britannia,” and its bizarre chorus, called, “Britons never, never, shall be slaves,” which struck him, as he explains diplomatically, strange.

Now this invocation to articulate freedom through its antonym will eventually lead Patterson to theorize the twin dimensions of slavery and freedom in Western culture. Indeed, from the position of the colonies, he is able to see clearly the components of the nature of freedom, one of which is the power to dominate others.

It is no accident, he says, that the American Revolution is fought by a set of slave owners. And indeed British settlers in the West Indies were particularly intent to claim their, quote, “Rights of Englishmen,” precisely because their insistence on their freedom to dominate others.

Now Patterson claims freedom as a sociological topic of study. Meaning that freedom is not an ideational product of the European intellectuals’ mind, but rather it is culturally and historically situated. And it comes out of a particular social constellation. And that is the institution of slavery. Freedom then is not a universal value, but it emerges, and gets institutionalized peculiarly, and in unlikely ways, in Western culture through its emergence out of slavery.

For historical sociologists, Patterson offers a methodology for how to situate concepts not as free-floating, abstract ideals, but as products of particular social institutions. For example, the second component of the triad of freedom emerges in the struggle of the enslaved, perhaps best epitomized in manumission, the release from slavery, which is the struggle for absence of domination.

I’m quoting Patterson– “Freedom began its career as a social value in the desperate yearning of the slave to negate what for him, or her, or for non-slaves was a peculiarly inhuman condition,” end quote. And he then traces the struggle from ancient Greece, Rome, and continuing through its Christian reformulation. Freedom follows from slavery, from death to rebirth, slavery to salvation. In short, I quote, “Out of evil, cometh hope.”

Now Patterson really stands alone in his mastery of these topics in sociology. And this work has opened up the space for us to engage these topics as sociologists. But I’d be really boring if I didn’t at least try to challenge you. So here it goes.

My questions have to do with the distinction between the ancient and the modern world, and whether in the modern world, after 1492, with the onset of the colonial project, freedom is mediated by who gets to be human in the first place. Take the temporalities of slavery and freedom, “Out of evil, cometh hope,” what happens when manumission is not the absence of domination, but the imposition of a new form of domination? In other words, what if abolition is not the antonym of slavery, but the beginning of something else?

Abolition in British Jamaica, for example, invoking the historian Thomas Holt, posed for the British Colonial Office the quote, “Problem of freedom.” For the Colonial Office, abolition required an investigation into the nature of the enslaved, specifically whether people would work without slavery. Indeed, this colonial report concluded that– I’m quoting– “Slaves, if emancipated, would maintain themselves, would be industrious, and disposed to acquire property by labor,” end quote.

So applying a Pattersonian methodology, one that sees freedom as culturally inflected with meanings and socially situated, it becomes clear that freedom after abolition is the freedom to work. Of course, freedom in liberal England is a scam, we’ve known since Marx’s “Satanic Mills.” But my point is that with abolition re-emerge an older question, which is this debate over the anthropological nature of the newly freed.

And this debate was not only centered on work, but also sought to answer more foundational questions over their disposition, their souls, the minds of the newly freed. Missionaries, as Catherine Hall, made clear in Civilising Subjects insisted that the formerly enslaved were reformable, only to then lose this battle with the rise of polygenists’ racist science of the 1850s. By then, the British Colonial Office concluded that the formerly enslaved were, indeed, fundamentally different.

So to understand slavery and freedom in the modern world and in the colonial context, don’t we need a mediating concept, which is that of personhood? What kind of person could be free or who could be a person at all. As you know, John Stuart Mill is outraged at the British colonial state’s violent response after the Morant Bay uprising, and yet, Mill finds absolutely no problem with the imposition of Crown rule in 1865. Because, quoting his One Liberty, “Despotism is a legitimate form of government in dealing with barbarians, provided the end is their improvement,” end quote.

Now I think Jamaican intellectuals are leading the conversation of new genealogies of freedom. Alongside Patterson, Sylvia Wynter and Anthony Boggs have also undertaken this work. And for them, colonialism throws a wrench in the story.

Take Wynter, in 1492 she argues, “Ushered in the articulation of those who self-articulated as human, versus those colonial intellectuals designated as outside of the human community, a community under God, versus those without souls, and hence, heathens, a political community of rationality, versus those incapable of it, or we might say, in this case, a community of laboring, responsible subjects, versus those who are not reformable.”

With debates in modern Europe emerged the conception of personhood, designating the colonized as outside it. And thus, foreclosing any discussion of the simultaneous, coetaneous existence of slavery in the plantation colonies. How else do we explain the apparent cognitive dissonance in someone like Benjamin Constant, who was very much thinking about liberty and relationship to ancient slavery.

But in 1819, wrote, as Barnor Hesse pointed out, seemingly without any irony at all, that, quote, “Thanks to commerce, to religion, to the moral and intellectual progress of the human race, there are no longer slaves among European nations,” end quote.

Now finally, Patterson is an intellectual in the world, engaged in politics. So I must mention the third part of Patterson’s triad of freedom, which is freedom as participation and equality. If, as Du Bois remarked, “The slave stood for a moment in the sun in periods, such as Reconstruction, but at the same time Reconstruction saw the realigning of capital and the reshifting of racist ideologies to tighten the borders of the political community,” leading Du Bois to conclude that “This very failure of Reconstruction led to the failure of democracy in America.”

With the limits of abolition and Reconstruction, my question to you then would be if it is not only slavery that needs to be explained, but also the limited ways in which freedom was instituted.

All right, so thank you so much for republishing this book and for rekindling these debates. I look forward to our conversation. Thanks.

[ORLANDO PATTERSON] OK, well, thank you very much for those extremely stimulating comments. Well, in many ways, very provocative and raises issues which I’ve often thought about myself. I keep going back to my work and rethink what I originally thought, often based on not just criticism, but things I’ve read later on and from discussions of this nature. And you’ve certainly raised a lot of very interesting issues of the sort, which leads me to rethink.

For me, ideas are always open, and nothing is ever closed, including the possibility of completely rethinking what was thought before. I always hold that possibility out. So I think the issue you raise about power is very, very important.

I often find real resistance to the idea that power is central to the notion of freedom, for the same reason that liberalism tends to see it as the opposite of freedom, rather than being, in a sense, the defining principle. But that’s just a sort of form of way of hiding.

I tend to see liberalism as a kind of elaborate camouflage of the principle of power, because what is being said is that what’s important, what’s central, of course, is the escape from domination. And that’s why in David Brion Davis’s work– in a sense, I see the essence of his work, is that the centrality of the abolition movement to liberalism was, indeed– it made that point. Quintessentially, freedom is getting rid of slavery and doing that.

But what is it camouflaging? It is camouflaging the idea that there is a form of power which remains central to the idea of freedom right through to today. This has being camouflaged all along. And that is, of course, property.

Marx, in a famous passage, once made the argument that modernity involved the transition from the control of power of property through the control of people directly– that’s what serfdom was about– to a condition in which we control people through a control of property. And that’s what is being camouflaged.

And that terrible truth, one of Marx’s most powerful readings, is what’s being camouflaged with the obsessive emphasis only on the idea of freedom as negation of personal– of the power over another. Because it remains almost– it’s too embarrassing and revealing to see this other dimension.

But, of course, as I pointed out, American history, itself, makes clear the centrality of power, not only in the importance of property, which is being camouflaged, but directly, in the fact that half the nation went to war to defend the principle of freedom as power over [INAUDIBLE]. That’s what the Civil War was about.

So the idea– and the Southerners were quite explicit about this– they were fighting for their freedom. And it befuddled many people, but it shouldn’t, if they knew their history. In fact, the South has the history of Europe on its side.

So I found your comments extremely useful. The idea– the notion that the demos as a slave, I just wondered whether– that expression, and that image, and that thought, an that metaphor is a powerful one which persists right through. So in a sense, the Stoics took it up, the notion of the ultimate freedom was, in fact, surrender and complete– well, enslavement to God– to the power of the universe.

In Roman thought, of course, it is significant that– and this comes out in the famous biography of Augustus, that ultimately a surrender to the emperor– enslavement to the Emperor was the ultimate freedom. And the Romans– the freedmen of Rome– the elite freedmen, the ones who subscribed to the Lares cult, which was the cult of the emperors, saw their freedom as guaranteed and vested in being the slaves of the emperor.

And that idea, of course, was picked up in Christianity and became central to– this is why I think Paul has a solution to much of many of the problems of [INAUDIBLE] and their freedom. People, you should all read Paul. He was a very strange man, but maybe the most brilliant thinker. Certainly, the most influential thinker in the history of the West, whether you’re a Christian or not.

So the two great letters were– the letter to the Galatians was freedom in the simple negation. This is what Christ’s death simply bought you out of enslavement to the sin. The metaphor is– the interjection was direct. Jesus paid for you to be manumitted. Evidently, the people don’t seem to know that the word redemption comes from redemptive, which literally means to buy someone out of slavery. So Jesus bought you out of slavery in the negative sense.

But in Romans– and theologians spend so much time wondering about how you can reconcile Paul’s letter to the Romans with Paul’s letter to the Galatians. I never saw a problem. Because what he then did was to shift the notion of freedom as slavery to God. And of course, says it quite clearly. And he got that straight out of Stoicism, by the way, who got it straight out of the Greeks.

So that extraordinary idea, which became central in Christianity– one of the most difficult and profound passages in the entire New Testament was when Paul describes the experience of– and people have always thought, what is he saying? How could he have moved from Galatians? Which was– literally, goes on about the freedom of women, of Gentiles, and so on. This is what Jesus’ death presented too, an idea, which is very much a more Augustan idea of freedom as surrender to God. But it all goes back to the Greeks.

So that sense of freedom coming from surrender to a powerful force, which is– which can be conceived as the state, if you like, and is how I would see the origin of that idea. And, of course it tracks right through Western history, through Christianity.

And by the way, the reason why then Christianity is so important is that it’s Christianity that carries Western– ancient thought and ideas of freedom. People often see a break in the history of freedom with the collapse of Rome, but it’s nothing of the sort. The point is that these ideas were powerfully encapsulated, although interjected in Christian doctrine of freedom.

And it’s often– especially philosophers tend to see Christianity– oh, that’s religion, so that’s not– this is ridiculous. It was the most important thought there is in Christendom. And as [INAUDIBLE] and others have pointed out, in many ways modern thought was simply the extrusion, if you like, or the opposite of interjection– the extrajection– the turning out of the spiritual back into the secular, in the same way that the secular thought of the Greeks and the Stoics was interjected into Christianity, which then held it for 1,000 years.

And reflected, by the way– and no one reads the simple fact that– perhaps the most prominent student of modern source of freedom is Locke. Locke’s work– and I think the biographers of Locke have now come around this idea– it’s almost accepted– was applied theology. It’s hard to believe.

Now, I don’t know how many of you read Locke’s religious writings, but his commentary of the Gospels, which nobody reads, which– was very revealing. But it’s just part of the process of the extroversion, if you like, or whatever the proper word is– the interjection– of this powerful Christian, if you like, encapsulation of ancient Greek thought through [INAUDIBLE] back into the world.

And the same ideas– the same three ideas came. So the idea of the Galatian idea, the letters, of freedom as escape from sin, the power of slavery as a sin, the idea of freedom as well. But also, the idea of the Corpus Christi as the embodiment of the civic notion of freedom, freedom in identity with the Christian community.

All those ideas, in fact, can be easily secularized. And, in fact, there’s another book I’m writing on the earliest thought of– the early modern thought, which draws heavily on these metaphors. But that, in the broadest terms, is how I [INAUDIBLE].

But I like very much some of the issues you raise. By the way, I love it– I didn’t know this quote from Ellen. I see Ellen every month. And we belong to the same society. That “Made up and made real”–

[DANIELA CAMMACK] It’s a great article.

I love it. The next time I see her, I’ll say, well, how come you hid this from me all this time. Wow, that’s fantastic. But let’s get back to the point you raised earlier of the demos. Because do you know, the very earliest– going through language– the very earliest in the European word were– of freedom, which I can’t pronounce. Maybe you can. You’re a student of language.

But anyway, it means, literally, among the beloved– we who are. And Benveniste explore this at great length. It refers to we, as opposed to them– which is often a slave– who are not. It’s an us versus them idea. So the original idea– and it does include the slaves, but it’s them versus us. And the– and I wonder if Toni Morrison knew this. That the most ancient Indo-European meaning of the word freedom is beloved– we, the beloved.

So, yes, it’s who are they, and how they are to achieve this relationship with the elite, of course, is the essence of the struggle of Greece from the 7th century, when they were virtually reduced to– they were essentially in debt bondage, a massive debt bondage in that early period, until the Solonic reforms, under the threat of revolt.

But in a way, I see dynamically as a struggle, a constant struggle between– to define precisely what demos means, and the ways in which they elite define as opposed to the way in which the mass– it’s a very fluid thing. And the different, subtle ways in which you define it, seems to me, reflects where the struggle is at at any given time.

And I find your exploration of this really intriguing. I’d love to read what you have to read about it, because as I said, I’m always open to rethinking. And so the idea of a demos as a slave, though, is simply then more the idea of– it’s the slave of God, this idea of ultimate freedom, as it was found in this– well, the question is, what is the demos enslaved to? I was just wondering


The elite– was it always the elite?

[DANIELA CAMMACK] Outside demokratia?


Yes. The argument is always– or the representation is always the demos is enslaved to the elite.


Or risks falling back into enslavement by the elite if they don’t maintain their Democratic institutions.

[ORLANDO PATTERSON] I see. That, in a way, is almost an early precursor of the Augustan idea, isn’t it? Because he saw enslavement, to his genius, to his power as the sort of security of the Roman freedom. Of course, he may say there was no real freedom there. But it was that idea.

But I do find this very intriguing. [LAUGHS] I must explore it some more. But as you can see, the important thing to note is that this singular liberal notion of freedom is so sort of naive, when looked at historically.

But, OK, we can get back to–

[CAITLIN ROSENTHAL] I’m going to– can I just– so that we–

[ORLANDO PATTERSON] OK, sorry. I like very much the points you raised about– from the Caribbean point of view, as to what happens after slavery was, quote-unquote, “abolished.” And the notion of personhood– what kind of person could a free person be?

That was the struggle. That was the whole point of the post-colonial period, in a way. One solution is, of course, just to move away entirely from any engagement with the former colonial masters, who are now– and that was the peasantry. And the refusal to be engaged with the plantation, because the plantation meant, indeed, all the problems that you raised.

And so the Jamaicans did escape, in a way, into the present. And did recreate a kind of Afro-Jamaican culture, which was the source of much of the vitality of Jamaican culture. It’s the source– Bob Marley is a peasant before he became– grew up in the most rural part of the peasantry before he went to Trenchtown and so on. Almost everything that’s vital in Jamaican culture emerges from the group which completely removed itself from the plantation.

The plantation, on the other hand, as Edith Clarke and many anthropologists of Jamaica– remained a kind of neo slavery system. And has been traumatic for the experience. And remains so, indeed, right through to the modern times. It’s a source of turmoil, of endless violence, and so on.

And so, yes, you’re absolutely right– the question of– and the peasantry, of course, was the source of the rejection of the missionaries’ attempts to define freedom as becoming Christianized. And accepting marriages– those mass marriages which they arranged for the peasants, who refused to accept it, and threw away their rings, and developed their own form of culture.

So freedom then becomes the capacity to create one’s own culture, independently of– and it goes back to my discussion yesterday of ethnicide and genocide. They recognized slave as a form of genocide. They recognized that. And one form of expression of freedom was the fact that they suddenly started to reproduce right after slavery. But a second form was the fact that they started to recreate their own culture and a vital culture.

And those who are not in it remained, in a sense, entrapped in a kind of semi-slavery. That was the plantation. And so that’s so you’re absolutely right, the kind of person which was created afterwards, was it the ex-slaves who are going to create it or was it going to be the missionaries and the continued plantation owners? And I think there’s part success in the peasantry, in the culture.

But, of course, the other part of Jamaica was the one dominated by the continued ex-planters, and the elite, and the Brown-skinned elite, and so on. And the struggle continues in Jamaica. And you can hear it in the dance halls in the nights. It’s the ragamuffin versus the bourgeoisie. And they call them self– they celebrate their ragamuffin status as the expression of their freedom. So it’s recognized as the expression of their personhood, which drives the middle class crazy.

So the struggle still continues in Jamaica, in a way. Yeah, so you’re absolutely right. But we can talk some more about that. I think I should stop at this point, but thank you.

[CAITLIN ROSENTHAL] That’s a wonderful note to turn it open to the audience for questions.

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] Hi, I’m Dmitri. I’m a second-year history PhD student here. Thank you so much for being here and for sharing this text with us. Reading David Scott’s introduction and part of your interview, I got the sense that the freedom being discussed was primarily understood as an individual freedom, with distinctly Western origins.

And I guess, I’m curious about– I’m curious about whether– about what you– whether you see a distinction between the kind of freedom that you’re describing in your interview with David Scott and forms of collective freedom understood as freedom of a people or a community from various forms of domination? Or freedom of a people or a community to form a state or a political organization?

And I’m wondering if you think of that kind of collective freedom as different in some way? And if so, whether you also trace it to this Western lineage of individual freedom? Or can we trace other genealogies of freedom that don’t necessarily inhere in the individual?

[ORLANDO PATTERSON] Yes. It’s a good point. I’m glad you raised it. I do not mean free states in the sense of independent states. Because in that sense, any independent state, even totally barbaric, tyrannical ones, can be said to be free. So no, I do not mean to use the term in that sense at all.

Because I don’t see Russia as a free state or any of the number of– or China as a free state. It’s free in the sense that it’s an independent state, but it’s– or North Korea. North Korea is free in that sense, collectively, as they constantly celebrate. But it’s freedom– I do not mean freedom in that sense.

Although, of course, the struggle for freedom does become tied into this. I prefer to use it on the social aspect of freedom. Because when I speak of freedom in the third sense, as sort of engagement with freedom in the demos, as being an equal part of the demos, there’s a collective social element in that. And it’s a very important one, by the way. And it’s one– well, it’s a source of democracy.

It’s one we’re likely to neglect. But you know something, it explains– its power is explained in what’s happening right now in America and in the populist revolt all over the world. And let me backtrack a little about how I see these three elements.

I see them– I use the metaphor of a chord, a chordal triad. And just see them interacting with each other. And that three require each other. And true freedom– true freedom, real freedom comes only where the three are working together. But the long history of freedom has been a long struggle in which different groups have tried to extract one from the other.

Elites have always emphasized freedom as power. Throughout the Middle Ages– one of my favorite example of this is the English lords in the 9th century referred to the freedom of gallows, by which they mean the freedom to execute anyone within their domain, which is an extreme form of the idea of freedom as power. And, obviously, that suits them.

They were very resistant to the idea of freedom as liberation, independence– freedom from. And, of course, the idea of freedom as a equal– basically, equality in the laws, in the social– whatever the governing social order is, and pride in that.

Now when these become separated, they can become dangerous. And in many ways, what’s happening in America– let’s look at the crazy situation, the fraught situation we’re in in America today. In many ways, the populist rhetoric is very much an appeal to that most, if you like, primeval– Benvenistian idea of the freedom as the we, the collective we, who possess this space, this political and social space, which is America– we, the people.

OK, and the fear that we, the people, are being invaded by others, who are not among the beloved– the beloved being we, white, Christian. So that’s the definition of what freedom is. It’s a real part of the history of freedom. And it’s the fear that those who are not among the beloved– the Mexicans, the Blacks, the immigrants– are going to come into us, among the beloved and– the spoilers.

That’s not new. That’s a profound and deeply rooted. And then it goes back to the demos and the attitude, if you like, of the hostility towards the freedmen in Athens. It’s remarkable that even though so much of what is great in Greece– the buildings, much of the art, the policemen, who kept order. They were all slaves and ex-slaves, for Christ sake’s, but they were never really accepted.

Even Aristotle was not accepted. That precious entity– both your parents had to be Greeks and so on. And that idea of a special community of the beloved, as well as the core of the, if you like, the social notion of freedom as we– among the beloved, we, who constitute an equal group and so on.

And it becomes dangerous when it’s separated from the other notions of freedom, it seems to me. And it’s there. I see it. And what do they emphasize? Freedom– they’re not– to say that– to say that they don’t know what they’re talking about, they know what they’re talking about. It is one element of freedom, that idea of us belonging to a community, which we share, as we are equal members, the beloved. And it doesn’t belong to them, who are not among us. That has deep, deep roots in the history of freedom.

And that’s what they mean by freedom. They’re not interested in the other two elements. They’re not interested in the liberal notion of freedom and freedom as power, which they also recognize. This is why they’re hostile to the elites and so on.

So I see this, and I scratch my head that people think that– what’s happening, of course, is a fragmentation in America of this triad. If you want to use the musical metaphor. It’s fragmented deeply in America now and in other parts of the West.

In a way, the welfare state– I don’t want to celebrate it, but one definition of the welfare state, when it works, is indeed the integration of these three notes of the chord. And it still works, in part. I don’t want to name any society as my– but when it works, it works very well. And it came very close to working very well in parts of Western Europe.

But it’s been– I see it as fragmented now. And in America, it’s very fragmented. And this is what Trumpism is all about, the appeal to the beloved. OK, so–

Hopefully we’ll get–

Sorry, moved too far.

[CAITLIN ROSENTHAL] Let’s take one more question and maybe another one.

[ORLANDO PATTERSON] I’m going to be very brief from now on. So, please.

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] Hello, pardon me. Hello, my name is William. I’m a third-year PhD student in geography. As you were talking about freedom, what was coming to my mind is marronage, and particularly the gendered forms of marronage.

So I study West Africa, but also parts of the Caribbean. And what I found very interesting is when you look at gendered marronage, and you look at some of the slave narratives or dialogues, a lot of the female slaves were conceptualizing freedom, or marronage, in terms of being reconnected to family or escaping sexual violence.

Whereas, a lot of the male slaves were conceptualizing freedom of marriage in terms of the absence of chains. So it was more abstract. So you see there’s a gendered note behind marronage. And so I was interested in your thoughts on that, and gendered freedom, and gendered marronage. Particularly, you mentioned yesterday gendercide or femicide.

And the second question to this is, as you were talking, I was thinking about Trouillot’s Silencing the Past, and his comment on the Basals and the Congolese in the Haitian Revolution, and how they conceptualized freedom for them was living on the sides of mountains and having food sovereignty.

[ORLANDO PATTERSON] And having what?

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] Food sovereignty– farming themselves. And so I’m thinking about this gender conception of freedom, and then this almost ecological food sovereignty, as it were, and how you conceptualize or move between them in your work.

[ORLANDO PATTERSON] Yeah. Well, one of my early works is on marronage, the earliest history of the slave revolts in Jamaica and leading to the– often called the first Maroon wars. And Jamaica, as you know, has made a national hero of Nanny. It was one of the leaders of the Maroons. The problem is we don’t know very much about Nanny, except that she was a great leader.

And as I said earlier, I entirely agree– the peasants– with Jamaican peasants withdrawing to the hills. And developing their own peasant communities was core idea. For them, freedom meant that independence, even if it meant only a half acre of land. But they could produce– and it’s amazing to see what you can produce and how you can feed a family of six on a half acre of land. But that was freedom in every sense of the term to them– economic freedom, and political freedoms, and individual freedom.

I would need to know more. There is no doubt from the history of slavery that one of the central features of slavery everywhere was rape, the rape of women. And Frederick Douglass, in a famous passage, pointed out the worst fate which could befall a slave woman is to be even mildly attractive, because she’d almost certainly–

But rape as an essential part of slavery is now– is, I think, fairly accepted. And so for women, one can see that as critical in defining what their freedom is. And my novel, Die the Long Day, in fact draws– that was central to this theme of the novel. Because her rebellion is based on the fact that she didn’t want her daughter to be raped by the overseer.

But look, it gets more complicated in a way in which– to get back to what I mentioned yesterday– many people don’t like to talk about. Because there were tensions between those views of what freedom is. Because, unfortunately, the slaveholders’ view of freedom as domination carried over into the slave community.

Now, we don’t want to, in writing, a usable past– I don’t like that term, actually. I think it’s very Bourgeois. But you know what it means, right? OK, in writing, a usable past is great if you’re telling the truth about what exactly happened. One of the tragedies is that freedom as domination of others over whom you exercise control is carried over into the slave quarters.

The slave drivers were pretty vicious within the slave system. And men, in their attempts over women– they didn’t quite succeed– also carried over this idea of freedom as domination. I’m free to the degree that I can exercise power over anyone, whether it’s my children, whom I can beat the way I was beaten, or the women whom I can exercise my freedom over by being powerful.

And women, of course, obviously powerfully resisted this and continue to resist it. And would rather be not married, and in fact– than be married or have a relationship in that situation. And this, by the way– single parenting, started from very early, constitutes an expression of female freedom in important respects. Because they know that marriage, a continued relationship with a man, often means a carryover of the idea of freedom as power over, when for her, freedom means– freedom was in this negative sense. And in a sense of power in the sense of directing my life– empowerment.

That’s the other sort of– by the way, there’s a brutal and a benign aspect of the idea of freedom as power. The brutal aspect is just the slave masters’ view– freedom means power over. And it’s also the capitalist view– power over. My ability to buy with a stroke of a pen, dis-employ thousands of people, destroy a whole town, that’s power. And that’s freedom.

[INAUDIBLE] to have that freedom recognized, as opposed to the freedom which is empowerment. And Amartya Sen develops this idea very much. He thought he was being very original, in fact. Well, in a way, I guess he was. But in capability– he goes at great length of the notion of capability. And I keep scratching my head, and saying, OK, that’s very, very original.

But it’s the idea of freedom as power in the sense of capability, self-direction, empowerment, which women all have emphasized in describing it. Which is different from the power of power over. Power over versus power over others, as opposed to power over oneself, and so on, is the critical distinction between male and female views of freedom.

And it runs right through history. And we certainly find it in Jamaica if you talk to women, who have now given up completely on– most working-class women have given up completely on marriage for exactly this reason. And I want the power to direct myself, and I won’t get it in a relationship with a man.

So I don’t want to stray too much in this area because it gets very contentious. And people– it doesn’t gel with the idea of the usable past, which is the Bourgeois idea– if I want to have a past, which I can boast about, and which is part of the great empires, and what have you, and so on– whatever you want to call it. But the real past involves a real struggle. And it has to do with these different dimensions of freedom and what freedom really means.

But you’re right, there is a gendered view of freedom. And several people have written brilliantly on this. And I love the work of Judith Butler on this. Her work on Antigone, which, by the way, uses social death in a way in which, I must say, was more original than anything I could have thought of. I love her stuff. As she keeps saying– carry on, carry on.

This is my favorite example of Sartre’s, in his great book, What is Literature? It’s a great little book. Every person– student of literature should read What is Literature? But the central idea there is that when a writer writes something and puts it out into the world, it’s only half finished. It’s finished by the reader, who then can create with it what they want.

So Judith Butler does great things with social death, which I love. The Afro-pessimists do interesting things when they had their social [INAUDIBLE]. I’m not going to complain. Because I just retreat to the Sartrean view. Well, you’re completing it in that way. It may not be my way, but I have no claims anymore.

[CAITLIN ROSENTHAL] We’re almost to the final moment. So how many questions remain out there? If there’s only one, then we’ll take one last question. Or we could take two. Let’s take two together, and then you’ll get one final word. And then the rest will be finished by the reader.

Right. [LAUGHS]

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] The question I was hearing raised by Will and Dmitri in various ways was what to do with freedom in the non-modern West. And I wanted to return that to the– I thought it was a brilliant exchange between you and Professor Cammack. And especially your elaboration of the ancient, but I thought the way you took it to the reception through late antiquity was especially great.

So we know that by the time we come to the Eastern Mediterranean, later on, Islam, itself, is surrender, and it has a conception of freedom very radically. And equally, in Eastern Christianity, it’s a doulos [NON-ENGLISH], as you say, taking from Paul, but really taking that. There’s even these amazing descriptions depictions of Christ [NON-ENGLISH], the all powerful, the frescoes of God that are common in Eastern Christianity.

So the question is what to do with that? To describe it as freedom or as forms of unfreedom? And here I’m thinking, I feel like if we take your thesis seriously, and as I understood it in from the interview, and also in this exchange, these are all variations on a theme of freedom. Because in part, it is taken from ancient conceptions and elaborated in different ways throughout this history.

I would contrast that with– just because last week, we had the privilege of having Mahmood Mamdani visit. And he offered the opposite, view is– but in a way, it’s the same. That’s why I’m not sure where you stand on it.

He said that freedom and slavery are modern. They emerge together. They emerge with capitalism through modernity, in what we understand through secularization, et cetera, et cetera. And actually, in most of the world for most of the time, ie, the non-modern West, by and large, people were neither free, nor enslaved, but in various ways existing in states of unfreedom.

So for me, these are two contrasting ways of taking seriously the kinds of things we raise in discussions with Professor Cammack and with the other people. I don’t know whether to understand marronage, or Islam, or things like that as variations on freedom or as– or as varying kinds of unfreedom.

If we want to take seriously the idea that it’s in the West that freedom and slavery come together, which it seems at stake there is also your comment, Professor Rosenthal, the idea of capitalism with its clothes off, that its coexistent with modernity, and liberalism, and capitalism. It seems like that might be something we want to save.

But on the other hand, if we go that route, it seems to maintain the primacy of the West as that to which everything else has to be compared. And it seems to neglect the idea of thinking from those other perspectives. So I don’t know. I would like to hear what you have to say.

[FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER] I wanted to ask, in the interview that we read, there a lot of emphasis on thinking about the persistence of freedom and why the term has stuck over such a long period of time, and also thinking about it in a dialectical relationship with slavery or with the construction of the other.

So my question was in the contemporary moment, is it possible for us to shake freedom free of its dialectical connection to slavery, or the other, or the dominated through a contemporary struggle to re-articulate and re imagine the term? And if it’s not, as people who are thinking– political actors in the world today, should we turn to something else, another term, like liberation?

[ORLANDO PATTERSON] Yeah, those are two great questions. And I could spend a week on each one. I know I got to be brief. But they’re really– let me start with the second one– the second question. My answer, simply, is no, we can’t. It is what it is, as Naipaul would say.

Meaning– so I do not see ideas in any platonic sense out there, which can be discovered, or either in the hearts of men and women, or out there in the platonic ether to be found. And if we don’t like that, we go find– we go searching in the ether to find something else. That’s not how ideas– ideas emerge socially, historically.

And I use– and I pointed out something I learned from Aristotle, funnily enough, about how he talks about how ideas, in a way, almost emerge from the real world, from– he didn’t use the term struggle, but I’d say from struggle. And people, in making sense of it, come up with some idea of what it is they are struggling over.

And what happens is that the wise then pick up on these ideas. And among the things they do is to imagine that they are the first to imagine it. But, in fact, it’s not. And then you have a dialect– the history of an idea then, of a thought, is the a history of that dialectic between this real people struggling over the meaning of this thing. The wise is telling them what it is, having derived it from them. And so you have two path continuing and constantly feeding on each other and reinforcing each other.

But the arrogance of the philosophical and intellectual mind is often that we were the ones who discovered it. And we can sit in our armchair, like Isaiah Berlin, and discuss what freedom is. And negative freedom is the only freedom. And no, that’s– well, that’s how philosophers do it. And they can continue to get paid to do it, so they can continue doing it when they want.

But the point is, that’s not how it works. How it works is in this dialectical way between real struggle and thinking. So the most you can do is continue the dialogue as a thinker, or also as an actor, of both. I see myself as both. And try to make sense of it and try to direct it. Otherwise, you go find some other concept which you may want to promote.

So that would be my idea– no, you can’t. We’re stuck with that freedom, with that history. And that is what it is. And we can do all kinds of tricks. We can do what liberalism tried to do, and say, it’s only the negative part and so on. We can say it’s only among the beloved, and so on and so forth. But whatever, you’re going to continue with that. Otherwise, you find– as other people have done.

And so this takes me to your first– no, I don’t– so here’s the funny– I keep getting myself into situations where I’m being confounded with reactionaries because people don’t understand the radicalism of what I’m saying. So it’s a difficult situation.

So one of the criticisms I get for being conservative is that– hey, Patterson, you are just saying that this great idea of freedom existed in the West and it didn’t exist in other– and that’s a chauvinistic way of viewing the world. Freedom existed everywhere and so on. In a way, Amartya, whom I love, and he’s is a great man, partly accused me of this. But he claims that freedom existed in India. And his example of some Muslim person who set free some of his slaves or something.

But look, to the contrary– to the contrary, I think I’m offering a very radical interpretation, not a chauvinist. Yes, it originated in the West. And no, other people have great ideas of their own. OK, whether is Nirvana or whether– whatever. Different cultures emphasize things which are central to their societies.

The irony is that people are saying– other people have freedom too. In a sense, they’ve been so bemused by the West, that they are insisting that an idea which is very Western must have existed elsewhere. No, it was diffused elsewhere.

And the Chinese are right. And by the way, this is very interesting. By the way, they’re resisting translation– someone has translated Freedom into Chinese, and the Chinese are trying to figure out whether they’re going to have it published or not– but anyways. But they have insisted, rightly– there’s a famous conference in Bangkok in 1993, after the big celebration– the idea, after the fall of the Soviet Union– you remember, freedom is triumph. Remember that?

And that’s when this fellow wrote about the last man and whatnot. And everyone thought– and so there was this celebratory conference, which the UN arranged– you’re too young to remember– in Bangkok, in which the whole world was going to come, with the mantle of the world on the [INAUDIBLE] freedom– we’re all free and lordy, lordy.

And the Chinese turned up and said, we’ve got other ideas. And a strange collection of people– the Chinese, the Singaporeans, and I think the Indonesians, and a few others, said, no, this is our idea. Anyway, we have notions of it, like the development, that getting rid of poverty as being critical to that. It was a fascinating conference. Everybody are shocked.

Because the West was so full of itself, that its idea had triumphed over the world, that it just assumed that everybody would sign on to the fact that the world is free, which is not true. And I think I’m on the side of the Chinese here. They’re absolutely right. It’s a Western idea. And to accuse me of being conservative in saying that, this is so– it’s just fascinating.

But it did evolve. And, however, the way in which it evolved is one– so while people may, on the one hand, say– conservatives may say, oh, yeah, we like that idea, that it originated in the ancient West, they don’t like the idea when I explain how it originated. This dialectic– the first– the reason why it emerged was not just the existence of slavery, but something else, which emerged first in the ancient West.

And it’s a distinction with Moses Finley– the great Moses Finley– often made, the distinction between slave society and slave holding societies. Slave holding societies exist everywhere. In China, everywhere, there are some slaves, and so on– in Africa, everywhere.

Slave society, that extraordinary thing, in which a society becomes powerfully dependent, economically, and socially, and politically on slavery is central to its existence, emerged historically– it was a historically unique event. And it emerged among the ancient Greeks for the first time. And the evidence is quite powerful.

Slavery existed long before in the ancient Near East. It existed in China. It existed in Korea. It existed in Japan. But they never became slave societies. The phenomenon of slave society emerged in ancient Greece. And I tried to trace the history there in freedom and making of Western culture.

And then, of course, in Rome it metastasized into the greatest slave society of all time, which the world has never seen– not even modern slavery. Because slavery permeated the entire system, except the army. The economy was run by slaves. You read Cicero, if you don’t believe me.

The bureaucracies were– the teachers– if you want a teacher, you go buy a Greek teacher. And the imperial bureaucracy– and even the advisors to the emperor during the Claudian section. So that system– therefore, the world had never seen anything like that before. And it will never see anything like that again. Even the modern slave societies were nothing like that, in which the system was totally permeated by slavery. That is uniquely Western.

And the important thing to note is that at all the great points in Western history, we find this perverse institution. Over and over, we find it. In ancient Greece, and then it pops up again, 500 years– then in Rome. But you know something, we think of the end of the Rome as the end of slavery. That’s not true.

Michael McCormick’s great work, of course, has abolished the whole notion of the Dark Age. It no longer exists. It’s now lit up. And I belong to an organization of Harvard called “The Science of the Human Past,” in which the use of modern science, both in archaeology, the study of the history of the weather, the history of diseases, have led us to reinterpret the fall of Rome and all the rest.

But anyway, McCormick’s great book shows that, in fact, the whole notion of the fall of Rome, and then things were sunk into quiescence. But it’s all wrong. That slavery was alive and well. In Merovingian, France, that it rose again in the 10th century.

The reason why in all of European languages, the only word– no matter what the European family of language– each has the root slav– in all the languages– is because– you should know this, because I often hear it said that one of the characteristic features of modern slavery is that it became identified with one racial group– Black people.

Hey, that’s not true. it’s happened before, at least once, with a group of people called Slavs. And that’s why whether it’s Swedish, or French, or Spanish, or Hungarian, it has the same root. And they’re a very different family of languages. Slavery, the idea emerged from– well, the Slavs were the first group.

But more importantly, when Europe rose again, and moved away from China, which is the leading– the most advanced country up to about– well, there in now, the Great Transition. But the idea then there is somewhere around 1730 or ’40 is when the West move away from China.

How did they do it? They turned to slavery. And as you know, the slavery and capitalism are twins, are essential. So this civilization is strange from this point of view. It’s the only civilization which at all its high points has emphasized slavery as central to its development.

And if you follow the history and know that, Sam Beckett and others, who are going on about slavery and capitalism, but they kind of get it wrong, in that it happened much earlier. And I wish they’d celebrate Eric Williams a little more. But it started in the West Indies.

So what I’m saying is that this is a unique history– a unique history, like nowhere else. And in a sense, that dialectical relationship between slavery and freedom is how I got to it. I blundered into it. I didn’t– it’s not a hypothesis I had. I don’t work that way.

I didn’t have a hypothesis– hey, freedom emerged from slavery. It was very grounded. It popped up there, and I couldn’t believe it, that this, indeed was the case. And it was reinforced throughout by the continued existence of slavery, or slave-like institutions, such as serfdom.

So that’s– I’ve gone on [INAUDIBLE] because I’ve been so– it’s so irritating to hear people misinterpret what I think is a very radical, critical interpretation of Western culture, as one in which I’m supposed to be sort of defending, a very traditional, conservative view of the West as being the glorifying origins of great ideas. It’s the origin of freedom, but freedom itself is an idea worth probing very deeply.

And you may not think it’s so great if you– I happen to think it is. But I think it’s important to recognize that, yes– and I’m never going to back down from this– that it is Western. It originates in the West. And to the degree that it’s found elsewhere, it’s been defused. And there the history strikes me as being very, very powerful in favor. And I find no evidence of the idea of freedom as value.

Now look, guys, the idea of freedom–

I think this is–

Just one final word. The idea of freedom is a simple one, especially the negative one. Just people must have talked about from some time or the other, but that’s not the point. The idea is that freedom as value, an essential value– that’s the point I’m making here– is unique to the West.

Every other culture– as a matter of fact, there’s one exercise you can do, especially those of you in language, which I got my students from Korea, China, and elsewhere– it’s a nice thing. Especially, you can do this at Berkeley. Get them to look at the etymology.

All languages now have the word for freedom, OK? But did not have it before Western contact. So one interesting exercise you can do is to go and search for the etymology of the word in a particular language. You’re in for a shock.

And my favorite example, of course, is the Japanese notion of freedom, which the original meaning is something like– it’s something distasteful. It means irresponsibility or something like that. In all the languages, if you go back to the etymology, it’s often seen as, eww– something– and then, of course, later on people say, oh, I see.

So I see the typical situation of a missionary having lived for 40 years in the heart of China not converted a single person to Christianity. And decide, OK, before I go back home, I’m going to write a dictionary. So you go to this Chinese peasant, and OK, so tell me what dog means or what are dogs? And what about freedom?

And he says, what do you mean? Well, freedom, it’s written in your heart, you must know what it means, or something to that effect. Well, the person will say, well, I’m not quite sure. We don’t have a word, but tell me what you are getting at. And so the missionary tells the person this wonderful word. Says, what? Oh, that sounds like irresponsibility. [LAUGHS] And one gets this everywhere.

And so the word freedom is everywhere now. But, in fact, the original response to it is really quite startling if you go back to the etymology. So, yes, it’s Western. I’m never going to back down from that. But how? And that’s a different story. Anyway, sorry.

[CAITLIN ROSENTHAL] With that bit of radical etymology, let’s thanks Professor Patterson.





Consent and Legitimacy: A Revised Bellicose Theory of State-Building with Evidence from around the World, 1500–2000

Recorded on March 9, 2023, this video features Andreas Wimmer, Lieber Professor of Sociology and Political Philosophy at Columbia University, presenting a talk entitled “Consent and Legitimacy: A Revised Bellicose Theory of State-Building with Evidence from around the World, 1500–2000.”

The talk was presented at Social Science Matrix, and was co-sponsored by the UC Berkeley Institute of European Studies, the Center for Jewish Studies, the France-Berkeley Fund, and the Department of Slavic Studies & Literature. A paper related to the talk can be found at


This research builds on the large literature that discusses if frequent international wars enhance state-building, as famously argued by Charles Tilly. It integrates key insights of that literature and a series of additional arguments into a more comprehensive and systematic model of bargaining between rulers and ruled. The model specifies the conditions under which wars are likely to build states: if there are political institutions enabling such bargaining and expressing the consent of the ruled, if the population contributed substantially to the war efforts by providing soldiers and taxes, and if rulers are legitimized either through nationalism or success at war. The paper expands the empirical horizon of existing quantitative research by assembling two measures of state development, ranging from the early modern period to the present.

Matrix Lecture

Slavery and Genocide: The U.S., Jamaica, and the Historical Sociology of Evil

On May 1, 2023, Social Science Matrix was honored to present a Matrix Distinguished Lecture by Orlando Patterson, John Cowles Professor of Sociology at Harvard University. Professor Patterson’s lecture was entitled “Slavery and Genocide: The U.S, Jamaica and the Historical Sociology of Evil.”

The event was co-sponsored by the Townsend Center for the Humanities, and the discussant was Stephen Best, Professor of English at UC Berkeley and Director of the Townsend Center.

“We organize a lot of events at Matrix, but some are very special to us, and the Matrix Distinguished Lectures are in this category,” said Marion Fourcade, Director of Social Science Matrix, in her opening remarks. “I must say it is very intimidating to introduce Professor Patterson, and not only because he was the chair of my dissertation committee. The real reason is that his accomplishments in every domain of public and intellectual life are truly remarkable.”

Patterson previously held faculty appointments at the University of the West Indies, his alma mater, and the London School of Economics where he received his Ph.D. His academic interests include the culture and practices of freedom; the comparative study of slavery and ethno-racial relations; and the cultural sociology of poverty and underdevelopment with special reference to the Caribbean and African American youth. He is the author of numerous academic papers and six major academic books including, Slavery and Social Death (1982); Freedom in the Making of Western Culture (1991); The Ordeal of Integration (1997); and The Cultural Matrix: Understanding Black Youth (2015).

In his lecture, Patterson examined parallels between two recurring horrors of history: slavery and genocide. “They’ve had separate research traditions, slavery and genocide, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that the gesture of joining the two, of seeing the interaction, has come from genocide scholars, rather than slavery scholars,” Patterson said. “One would have thought that students of slavery would have been more preoccupied with this subject, but it’s been genocide scholars who have become increasingly interested in slavery.”

He outlined a definition of slavery as “a form of social death, by which I mean that it is a relation of total domination of one person by another…. Societies go to great lengths to prevent that by all kinds of means of containment. Slavery is unusual, in that it’s the relationship in which total domination, subjection of one person by another, is allowed.”

“The total domination often entails the rights of life and death, no matter what the laws say,” he explained. “There are almost no cases of the many, many instances of slaves being killed that the person [responsible] was punished.”

The slave is “never a member of the society,” Patterson said. “The slave is the ultimate outsider. They’ve been ripped from one society and brought into another, but not resocialized in that society. And the idea exists among the slaveholder class and their kin that the slave does not belong because the slave belongs to a person, and is an object of belonging to another, so they have no right to belong.”

A slave is “the ultimate deracinated person, a geneological isolate,” Patterson said. “You’re an isolated case in history, with no claims on one’s ancestry, including one’s parents, and including one’s children, who can be ripped away from you…. To think that you have no claims whatever on your children, or on your ancestors, however much you may love them, is such an abomination that I think most people just pass over it.”

He added that degradation is also an essential part of slavery. “In many cultures, especially in very honorific cultures, like the medieval Germans, the slave honor was never recognized,” he said. “If a slave woman was raped in the German honorific system, the dishonor went not to the slave, but to the slave master. The slave woman had no honor to be recognized. That has huge implications.”

Many of the same characteristics of slavery are found in genocide, Patterson said, though he noted that a definition of genocide that has been used by the United Nations and other institutions has long been disputed by scholars, who have raised questions about the role of intent in making a mass killing a form of genocide. “I didn’t know that there’s such contestation around what struck me as perfectly obvious definition,” Patterson said. “There’s the question of how many people must die for an atrocity to be considered genocide. In my view, actually, the murder of a single member of a group because of their group identity should be considered genocidal killing.

“A good example of this is the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis,” Patterson said. “This is very puzzling. White cops have been killing Black people by the hundreds over a long period of time. Why did this act generate the response that it did, not only in America, but globally? And a simple answer is that it was quintessentially genocidal. There was someone being slowly killed because they were Black.”

Watch the full video of the lecture, along with the response by Stephen Best, above or on YouTube.

You can also listen to the lecture as a podcast below or on Google Podcasts or Apple Podcasts.


Orlando Patterson: “Slavery and Genocide: The U.S, Jamaica and the Historical Sociology of Evil”


MARION FOURCADE] Hello, everybody. It is wonderful to see so many of you here in Matrix. And I know that we have also a very big online audience. My name is Marion Fourcade. I am a professor of sociology and the director of Social Science Matrix here at Berkeley.

We organize a lot of events at Matrix. But some are very special to us. The Matrix Distinguished Lectures are in this category. They have been with us since the beginning of Matrix. We organize them only once or twice a year for very special people. And the Matrix Lecture usually stays in Berkeley for a few days.

Today’s event, however, is extra special because it came together as a joint effort with our partner institution in the humanities. So before we start, I want to express my gratitude to Professor Stephen Best and the Townsend Center for helping us bring today’s esteemed guest to Berkeley.

Now, it is with unmitigated pleasure that I welcome Professor Orlando Patterson to Berkeley and introducing his Matrix Lecture and a series of events that is to follow. Now, I must say, it is very intimidating to introduce Professor Patterson, and not only because he was the chair of my dissertation committee. No, the real reason is that his accomplishments in every domain of public and intellectual life are truly, truly remarkable.

Orlando Patterson is a John Cowles Professor of Sociology at Harvard University. He previously held faculty appointments at the University of the West Indies, his Alma mater, and at the London School of Economics, where he also received his PhD. But maybe you do not know that he started out as a novelist and a quite extraordinary one at that. In fact, a critic dubbed him “The Caribbean Zola” after the publication of his first novel of Three Children of Sisyphus.

In academia, he is, of course, a scholarly giant who has written on the culture and practices of freedom, the comparative study of slavery and ethnoracial relations, the cultural sociology of poverty and underdevelopment with special reference to the Caribbean and African-American youth, and the sociology of sports, especially the game of cricket.

At Harvard, he is a beloved teacher and charismatic teacher who just finished lecture this past week to 450 undergraduates about the sociology of human trafficking. Let’s ponder that. He’s a public intellectual who publishes widely in journals of opinion and the National press too many to count.

And last but not least, he has played a major role as a policy figure in Jamaica. For 8 years, he was special advisor for social policy and development to Prime Minister Michael Manley. And then in 2021, he completed a major report on the future of public education in Jamaica.

Professor Patterson is the author of countless academic papers and six major academic books, including his classic Slavery and Social Death, published in 1982, which won the Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Award of the American Sociological Association; Freedom in the Making of Western Culture published in 1991, and that one won the National Book Award for Nonfiction; The Ordeal of Integration published in 1997; and The Cultural Matrix– Understanding Black Youth published in 2015. And that’s among others.

The Sociology of Slavery, his dissertation and first academic book in 1967 on Black slave society in Jamaica, is now being republished with a new preface. And then, there’s another forthcoming book, which is a long and extended interview with David Scott, which is coming out as The Paradox of Freedom in a few weeks. And that will be the subject of tomorrow’s lunchtime conversation. And I hear that there are two more volumes of essays that are, of course, coming from [? Polylighted ?] Press– one on enslavement and one on culture–

Culture and ethnicity.

Culture and ethnicity and race. And then finally, on Wednesday, Professor Patterson will talk about The Confounding Island, his 2019 monograph on the postcolonial dilemma in Jamaica. And that talk will be in the Geography Department colloquium.

We could not have a better respondent to Professor Patterson lecture than Stephen Best. Professor Best is the director of the Townsend Center for the Humanities and a professor of English in Film and Media Studies here at Berkeley. He’s a scholar of American and African-American literature and culture, cinema and technology, rhetoric, and the law and critical theory. He studies the critical nexus between slavery and historiography as well as the varying scholarly and political preoccupations with establishing the authority of the slave past in Black life.

He is the author of two books– The Fugitive’s Property– Law and the Poetics of Possession published in 2004, which is a study of property poetics and legal hermeneutics in 19th century American literary and legal culture. And most recently, he published None Like Us– Blackness, Belonging, Aesthetic Life in 2019. He has also co-edited three special issues of the journal Representations titled respectively “Redress,” “The Way We Read Now,” and “Description Across the Disciplines.” And as their title suggests, the last two of these volumes tackled epistemological issues in critical theory and literary practice.

So needless to say that we are in for quite a treat today. So please, join me in warmly welcoming Professor Professors Patterson and Best. And now, Orlando, the floor is yours.

[ORLANDO PATTERSON] Thank you very much, Marion. I still can’t believe that our relationship goes back 30 years.


This is when I first met you. And thanks for having me over here in Berkeley. I also can’t believe that this is my first visit here. Well, my second, the first one being when I attended the graduation of my daughter. But it’s always good to start sometime.


And I’m very happy about this, happy about the engagements, which you’ve arranged. And I’m really looking forward to these discussions starting with today. So I want to examine today a subject, one of which I’ve been deeply involved with from the very beginning. As Marion mentioned, my first book, which is published way back in 1967 has been republished recently on slavery.

And I found that’s been a major preoccupation. And as the biographical dialogue, as it’s called, which is the book that’s coming out in a few weeks indicates, has been in many ways the existential and intellectual force of much of my thinking since then on freedom, the nature of freedom, on slavery elsewhere, on the problem of colonialism, and of decolonization. And also, of course, the source of my literary writings since my second novel was, in fact, based on the materials I collected in my book on slavery and thinking that this material is too good to be buried away in historical sociology. So I wrote a novel.

And today, I sense going back deeply into the subject of slavery but also the subject, which more recently, I’ve become engaged with– genocide. Of course, like all persons who engage in their society, genocide is a subject which I have always had an interest in but that of a layman. I’ve acquired a scholarly interest in beginning to, so forgive me if I am wanting in some respects in the subject.

They’ve had separate research traditions– slavery and genocide. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that the gesture of joining the two of their interaction has come from genocide scholars rather than slavery scholars. It’s surprising. One would have thought that students of slavery would have been more preoccupied with this subject. But it’s been genocide scholars, as we’ll see, who’ve become increasingly interested in history of slavery.

Occasionally, scholars and stories and so on have reflected on the extent to which the two institutions, these two horrors are connected. But the issue remains contentious and understudied. I must say, the somewhat egotistical reason why I became involved when someone drew to my attention that the work of one of the really prominent genocide philosophers, Claudia Card, was brought to my attention and said that, in fact, one of her most widely cited pieces drew rather heavily on the concept of social death in her attempt to define what is distinctive about genocide.

And I’ll address that later on today. So I thought I’d returned the complement and found when I got into the subject that it’s something which I should have been involved with much earlier.

So I want to begin by summarizing what essentially slavery is all about. And everyone thinks they know what slavery is. But it’s like everyone knowing what they think they know what love is until they try to define it. Or I should say– that’s a bad metaphor. I should say what evil is until they try to define it.

I have, some of you may know, define it quintessentially as a form of social death, by which I mean that it is a– first, it’s three things– relation of total domination one person by another. This is unusual. Most people are surprised to learn this.

But total domination of one person by another, societies go to great lengths to prevent that by all kinds of means of containment. Usually, patron-client relations, of course, familial relations or what have you. There is domination. But there is some control of one kind or another.

Slavery is unusual in that it’s the relationship with which total domination of subjection of one person to another is allowed. I mean, the closest, of course, is the extreme marital relationships. And the relationship between marital slavery is disturbing.

As I pointed out in Slavery and Social Death, many of the rituals of domination in many cultures are derived from marital relationships. The total domination often entails the right of life and death no matter what the laws say. The US is typical. You’re not allowed to kill your slave. But you can– and almost every slaves were killed with impunity. And there are almost no cases of the many, many instances of slaves being killed that this person was punished.

The simple way of getting out is that you’re allowed to punish someone, punish them severely. So accidents happen. So it’s the right then of total domination including the right of life and death is one of the central points, of which very few other institutions or relationships of this kind.

Slaves, secondly, is never a member of the society. I use the term native alienation to define that the slaves are ultimate outsider. They have been ripped from one society and brought into another but not to socialize in that society.

And the idea exists in longer terms, [INAUDIBLE] class and their kin, that the slave does not belong because the slave belongs to a person, to another, an object of belonging to another. So they have no right to belong. It’s very important.

Not saying as many people have superficially claim that I am saying the slave has no relations or no community. Of course, there is a slave community and what have you. I was different. It’s important that you are recognized as a member of your community. That goes with all kind of rites of birth.

I call it native alienation for that reason. There are certain rites of birth as every society recognizes of someone belonging and are protections as a result of those rites. A slave is the ultimately deracinated person, the genealogical isolate. Because what it implies is that you have no ancestry, recognized ancestry or descendants. You are an isolated case in history and the new claims on one’s ancestry, including one’s parents and including one’s children, who can be ripped away from you.

So just think about it. It’s important to try to make sense of that idea. It’s such an abominable thought that many people just pass over that. But to think that you have no claims whatever on your children or in your ancestors however much you may love them, that is such an abomination that I think most people just pass over it for not thinking of its importance. But I spent a lot of time thinking of what that implies. Just think about it in living terms.

Finally, it’s a relation of degradation. And it’s important to recognize this too, the notion of dishonor. Slave is someone who– and their descendants, someone whom one has no respect can be dishonored, spat upon, insulted, raped without redress.

In many cultures– they were especially interesting in very honorific cultures like the medieval Germans and so on. The slave owner was never recognized. It was more the master’s honor that would recognize.

The slave woman was raped. And just the Germans, that elaborate honor [INAUDIBLE] went not to the slave but the slave master, who was the one who’s being dishonored. Because the slave woman had no honor to be recognized. That’s a huge implications.

Now, I’ve tried to bring home the idea to my fellow social scientists more recently by looking at the work of psychologists and social psychologists, who look at and try to define for us what it is to be human and what are the fundamental elements of being a human person. And therefore, for me, what social death implies is, in fact, the loss of their souls and these fundamental things.

I found Susan Fiske work some extent draws in more famously known work by Maslow on hierarchy and things. But her work, I found to be extremely valuable. And she emphasized the five fundamental motives of must love of God and needs of being human. And the most fundamental being to belong, the opposite of which is natal alienation.

Belonging, that is fundamental. And it’s the foundation, interestingly, of all the other fundamental motives or needs of being human, the fact that you belong to a community, a society of some time; relationships that are real, are meaningful, are recognized. That is a fundamental human motive. And loss of that always goes with terrible consequences for the person.

So be able to make sense of your world, the world in which we live. How can you make sense of a world in which you just think about what it involves being a slave, not owning yourself. He make a sense of a world in which you do not possess yourself, the idea of having some control, some little control and competence over one’s life.

So imagine getting up each morning. And absolutely everything you do that day is determined by someone else. You have absolutely no say in what it is you were doing that day from morning until you go to bed exhausted. And you wake up the next morning and no control whatever, to view ourselves as worthy and improvable again. And this is a fundamental one, easy to neglect, that to trust others, to be able to trust, to view the world as a place that facilitates group life, attachment, interdependence, and love.

Slavery assaults. And in social psychological terms, social death may be designed as the assault in those five fundamental motives or needs and so on and everything I’ve read about slavery in the case that that’s the case.

This denial of one’s humanity– now, again, I have to pause and say that this is how the society and the slaveholder and his people, our people define the situation. It has devastating consequences. But it does not necessarily mean that this is how the slaves view themselves.

And I’ve had a lot of problems with people who have written this nonsense about this. I mean, in fact, my very first work, Sociology of Slavery, was an attempt to understand from the slave’s point of view what this meant and how they reacted to this. And so to indicate that there was a slave community of slaves and of their children and so on is to miss the point entirely.

So genocide, I’ve tried to come to grips with what it is. The term, as you know, was coined by Lemkin in his response to the Holocaust, which he defines as the crime of destroying national racial or religious group. And as you know, the UN in 1948 defined it in more precise terms in a legally binding document, which has been ratified by over 149 states.

So in this definition, genocide involves any of the following acts– committed with the intent to destroy in whole or in part to national, ethnic, racial, or religious group; killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group– that, by the way, bear that in mind. It’s a very important one for me as the argument I make will point out that repeatedly– imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and forcefully transferring children of the group to another group.

So the definition become part of in general customary international law and is recognized by the International Court of Justice. However, almost every aspect of one of the elements of this definition has been contested by academics and genocide scholars. I was quite surprised.

Again, this is a– as a general educated person, I knew about the UN definition. What I didn’t know that there’s such contestation around what struck me as perfectly obvious definition. But every one of these have been contested.

One key issue is that of intent– issue of intent. So genocide scholars spent a lot of time in the world. I’ve been fascinated with this debate– to what extent is it necessary for mass killing to be considered genocide? The intent to kill.

The controversy, intellectually, in many ways goes back to Jean-Paul Sartre, who argued that there– in a way, disagreeing with that as he’s disagreeing so much. And, for example, you use the case of the American bombing and killing of thousands of civilians in Vietnam, which you consider genocide. And to argue, the issue of intent became central to the defense of America.

However horrible the bombings as you know, were and however many Vietnamese may have lost their lives, it was never the intention of America to deliberately exterminate the Vietnamese people because they were Vietnamese. What? Just because they were communists, I guess. And that genocide emerges only with the targeted slaughter of specific groups.

Another issue is the targeted killing of political groups, which, again, is generating a lot of argument with some exclude from the crime of genocide while others strongly argue otherwise. Stalin’s nationalization of land and agricultural policy, which resulted in the mass starvation death of some 5 million Russian peasants, Mao’s Cultural Revolution, which resulted in the deaths of some 30 million Chinese people are considered by many to be cases of genocide but by many more as not because partly the history of intent, partly because this is a political act.

Preventing people from reproducing especially on a mass scale is considered genocide. And I think that’s an important element as outlined in the UN Declaration. There’s also the question of how many people must die for an atrocity to be considered genocide.

In my view, actually, the murder of a single member of a group because of their group identity should be considered genocidal killing. A good example of this is the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. So this is very puzzling.

I mean, white cops have been killing Black people by the hundreds for very long period of time. Why did this act generates the response that it did not only in America but globally? And a simple answer is that it was quintessentially genocidal.

There was someone being slowly killed because they were Black. And I mean– and I think that may happen quietly without the camera and so on. But seeing that act just brought home in a vivid way what genocide is. And this is– well, at least, that’s my explanation for the extraordinary response, was global. What was going on?

It’s that feeling, that gut feeling that this is a different kind of killing. This is genocide. It is a question of cultural genocide. But I never call it ethnocide when they use that term.

Many people who work in genocide studies are preoccupied with the destruction of a people’s culture. This is already indicated, by the way, in Raphael Lemkin’s famous and definitive study. It’s become to occupy a central place in the work of one of the leading philosophers of genocide, the late feminist, philosopher in Wisconsin, Claudia Card, whose use of the concept of social death, as I said earlier, partly responsible for my engagement with the subject.

For Card, social death is what distinguishes genocide from other forms of mass killing. This is how she sums up her argument. She says that, “The essay develops the hypothesis that social death is utterly central to the evil of genocide, not just when a genocide is primarily cultural but even when it is homicidal on a massive scale.

It is social death that enables us to distinguish the peculiar evil of genocide from the evils of other mass murder,” she claims. “Even genocidal murders can be viewed as extreme means to the primary end of social death. Social vitality exists through relationships, contemporary and intergenerational, that creates an identity that gives meaning to life.”

That’s such a lovely short definition of social death in a way. I feel sometimes that I want to use that to the summary of it. “Major loss of social vitality is a loss of identity and consequently a serious loss of meaning for one’s existence. Putting social death at the center takes the focus off individual choice, individual goals, and individual careers, and body counts, and puts it on relationships that create community and set the context that gives meaning to choices and goals.

If my hypothesis is correct, the term ‘cultural genocide,'” she said, “is probably both redundant and misleading– redundant, if the social death present in all genocide implies cultural death as well, and misleading, if ‘cultural genocide’ suggests that some genocides do not involve cultural death.”

I was just fascinated by this. They’ve already repeatedly over and over. And it’s generated a lot of argument, disagreements, and as well as complementary studies. And I see cultural and physical actions that present reproduction about a form of genocide. Indeed, this may be the worst form of genocide today.

This is another idea which I’ve become very– another evil in the world I have become very involved with and got into from my study of the problems that I’m teaching now. And it may be the worst form of gendercide today. And I refer here to the crime of genocide, which ironically, is only mildly punished in some societies. And it’s not illegal in most Western societies, including the US.

So what is gendercide? It’s remarkable that I have to define it once what it is since many have not heard of it. Most of my students in my traffic and course have never heard of the idea, even though it involves millions of deaths or at least elimination.

Gendercide refers to the deliberate killing of individuals based on their gender or the selective prevention of the birth of fetuses of a particular gender. In most cases, females are targeted. The term underside is sometimes used by some to refer to the targeted killing of males.

The UN estimates that– in the US, the United Nations is going to take this very seriously. It’s a very recent development recognizing this as a crime. The UN, which recognizes it– it began, by the way– I should give him credit. Amartya Sen was the first major scholar to really bring to attention in a now famous piece published in the New York Review of Books on it.

The UN estimates that at a minimum, there are 140 missing women in the world as of 2020. Try to get your head around that. I don’t know how many of you are aware of that. But we’re talking big numbers here.

And the deliberate intentional prevention of the birth of a hundred– or the killing in the case of pure infanticide, which goes on a large scale in many parts of the world. But mainly now of 120 million women, gendercide is– now, as you see, this is very important to the argument I made earlier. But it ties into the idea, the centrality of the idea of preventing reproduction as something I want to– if I leave one idea with you, I want to be clear– preventing the reproduction of a group amounts to genocide.

Now, the reason why is so recent is that it’s exploded somewhere about the 1980s. And the reason being– now, in history, girls have always been killed or abandoned. But the crisis that came in the Roman slave system at the end of the Republic and early empire with the Roman kings, they there no more slaves from outside. And there’s a big question of where the Romans get their slaves from. This went on for several more centuries.

And as you know, Max, there were famous discussion of this. But the wise man was wrong on that. And most of them came from abandoned [? areas. ?] So thousands and thousands of them.

So it’s an ancient practice. But it’s become far greater now than anything in the ancient world, even the Romans were– or at least didn’t kill them, abandoned them. And most of them actually got taken up and used as slaves.

With a technological development, the ability to identify the gender of the fetus– which is a very expensive proposition until about 1980s when, in fact, it became very cheap to do that. So today, for about $25, an Indian, Pakistani, or whatever woman can identify the gender of the fetus.

And then it’s made illegal in– it’s illegal in India. It’s not illegal, by the way, in the United States. But it’s made illegal in India because it became such a major issue. It’s illegal in China too, where it’s big. But it doesn’t have much effect because there are other reasons why you may find out accidentally from your gynecologist what the gender is and especially if the gynecologist knows that you are very eager to know what the gender is. He can just let it drop.

So it’s led to an explosion, Korea. And the thing is we can measure this quite accurately. This is the other interesting thing because of a demographic constant. We know the ratio of males and females’ birth in nature. And so just look at the difference between what should be the case in terms of gender ratio. And you can calculate quite accurately how many will then have been terminated.

And it’s very interesting that it’s not illegal in the United States. There is a stop gendercide clause in the trafficking clause. But not many people take it very seriously. Oh, OK.

There have been studies, as I said, of the subject. And one of slavery and genocide. But one interesting aspect of this, which I want to point out, is the degree to which the ethnocidal or cultural genocide exist.

And Card, in a sense, made it very important. But as I pointed out in an earlier slide, I prefer to maintain the distinction as much as I greatly admire all genocide and crimes involve some kind of ethnocide. But not all ethnocide entails death [INAUDIBLE].

Now, some extreme form of ethnocide do amount to genocide. And there’s the case, which is now very much in the news, the ethnocide of Native American children, which the Pope has given his formal definition of as genocide. He went to Canada. He asked forgiveness. And he defined it as genocide, which in a way taking Card’s position.

My position then is that all forms of genocide involves ethnocide. But you can’t have ethnocide without genocide. And the distinction I’m going to draw between Jamaica and the US rests on that. And I’d love to hear your response to that.

There’s been work which I’ve looked at in recent works on trying to compare slavery and genocide. As I said, it’s come mainly from genocide scholars. The basic distinction, to cut a long story short, is to emphasize that genocide involves killing people, whereas ethnocide does not necessarily involve that.

And these are some works, which I’ll skip over the details. We can talk about it in the discussion. Very good works. I mean, the work on Kaplan’s work, I found, extremely bright. It has now become a classic, Between Dignity and Despair.

And Kaplan’s one of the earliest persons to use slavery and social death because she basically argues that the period of both ’33 and ’40 or so for her constitute a period of social death of the Jews. That’s her basic argument, whereas the genocide in a sense begins with the death camps and so on. So she marked that, a significant difference.

So she’s taken the view, hey, you could call the period of the ’30s in Nazi Germany an ethnocidal one as opposed to the beginning of a genocide. And the same goes for Danny’s work on– it was “Willing Executioners,” who also uses the concept of social death to make that distinction. So it’s become almost commonplace now that purposeful killing marks the difference.

The others have disagreed such as Vessels of Evil and so on. So I can– I should mention one early work which generated huge amount of controversy which did compare the concentration camps with American slavery. And that’s Stanley Elkins’s book on slavery, which came out way back, ’59. That’s so early I used it in my thesis. So long ago, that was, right?


It’s a measure of antiquity. But Patterson wrote this thesis. That the work– what Elkins did was to argue that drawing on several accounts by survivors of the concentration camp, including several Freudians and psychologists, who have escaped the camp, he found that the descriptions of the relationship between the concentration camp inmates and the concentration camp guards was one of a utter dependence and what he called a childlike attachment.

And this target was the characteristic of total institutions– that are called total institution, total domination of one person by another [INAUDIBLE] the threat of life with the possibility of life and death. And Elkins found parallels between the spotted dependency like attachment and between the somber type personality, which is described in countless accounts of US slavery by slave owners writing about the character of the Black Americans, the stereotypes, and the psychological relation between Jewish inmates and their owners.

And the Bruno Bettelheim most famously, of course, written on this. And it drew heavily on Bettelheim’s account to claim that there is some core of truth in this [INAUDIBLE] that what total institutions reduce you to is a kind of highlight attendant’s attachment, refers to the things that some concentration camp inmates would take pieces of the inmates’ clothes or dormitories.

And so as you can imagine, you’re all too young maybe to remember the storm of controversy which came in response to Elkin’s book. And it was after being greeted with some excitement and so on. Elkins is a fine historian, I should say. It was thrown to the [INAUDIBLE] heap of historiography and never to be heard of again, except by a few curious people like Rolando Paris [INAUDIBLE].

So I mean, I– well, I had to read it from my dissertation. So I saw it. But it’s a fascinating work. And I don’t– and the criticism of Elkins– and I was part of that. A famous book came out criticizing Elkins, which is a chapter from the Sociology of Slavery, which is critical of Elkins’s use.

But my argument was not to throw it in the wastebasket. But to argue that, in fact, from my comparative study of slavery, I did find– I did find that everywhere that slavery existed, you found from the slave owners’ accounts, accounts which are very similar to Sambo all across the world. My most famous example of that comes from the Latin literature on slavery in ancient Rome.

And the Roman elites’ attitude towards their slaves summarize a perfect summary of [INAUDIBLE]. is [INAUDIBLE] Sambo. This is a reference to the typical slave, ironically, who was Greek, the Greek also. But the Romans’ description of their slaves– and it’s interesting. A racial type became identified with it– refers to the Greek slaves, who [? social ?] dominated the households and so. Was that they were Sambos. And so my argument is that, yes, this existed, quite likely, in the [INAUDIBLE]. But what does it mean?

What did it mean to the slaves? So my criticism wasn’t to claim that this is not true. This is just made up. There clearly was something in it. The question is, what was it in it? What is real in it? And my argument was– and I found, by the way, exactly similar thing and in Jamaica. It is called quashie. And as with the Roman use of the term [INAUDIBLE] using racial categories. The quashies, they have three names for the [INAUDIBLE] for slaves. And [? quashiba. ?]

And quashi was very similar in the descriptions or identical almost to [? sambo. ?] And both were very similar to [INAUDIBLE]. So what is going on in those– what are the owners trying– was this totally made up and so on?

And my argument is that it is a form of psychological warfare, if you like, between slave and slave owner, that a slave was simulating this, that a slave was making the giving the master what the master wanted to see as a way of manipulating master. But the problem is, if you play that game too often, what does it do to you, eventually.

So the trick is some. But OK, so most of the works you see here, one of the problems I have with it, including Elkins is that– well, not Elkins. Elkins is specifically related to Marcos. It takes a it to a monolithic view of slavery, that slavery varied a lot, and from one part of the Americas to another.

And the variations due to patterns of ownership, proportion of number of slaves owned by the typical owner, and manumission rates. And by the way, one important thing to remember is that American scholarship is so dominant, and that very often, American scholars end up assuming that what’s the norm in the US is the norm everywhere. I’ve been driving people crazy all over by pointing out that this kind of parochialism has got to stop.

I mean, I first noted it as a graduate student in slave studies. And when I came to the– at first reading, the established words that US slave was the norm. And so you get to work like Tannenbaum, and so on, which is sort of very concerned with why is it that the slavery in Latin America was so different from the norm. When in fact, the question was the other way around. And I mean, why would the US sound so different?

For example, in manumission, Tannenbaum wanted to know why did this Latin slave owners, they made such a high proportion of slaves. Their assumption being that the norm is very small manumission rate. It was the other way around. Most large scale slave societies have higher rates of manumission. It’s a major way of containing the system.

But anyway, so I want to use two major slave societies then. If you want to look at Jamaica and the US South as two paradigmatic systems. They’re both plantation systems that originated in the British imperialism, and the slave, all the classes, both came from Britain.

And until about 1776, they were also part of the British empire. The scale of ownership differed. The average ownership is only about 10 slaves in the US. The average in Jamaica is about 100 slaves on a typical large plantation.

In the US, the majority of people were free and white. In Jamaica, from the early 18th century from about 1710 or so, the vast majority were Black and enslaved. The slave population outnumbering the free by over 10 to 1. And Blacks outnumbering whites by 12 to 1 by about 1730 or so, and for whites who survived tropical diseases.

However, Jamaica was a source of great wealth. Jamaica was the Saudi Arabia of the 18th century. So hard to believe. More wealth was generated in Jamaica than all the 13 colonies put together.

And if you look at just the trade figures, Britain had more trade with this one little island than all of North America right up to the end of the 18th century. That’s the important [? ways. ?] A fundamental difference between the two systems was the survival rate of the Black populations.

In America, the Prada class, from very early, calculated that it made economic sense. So encouraged their reproduction of their slave population, a decision encouraged by the cheaper cost of food in the US, whereas a large free farming population and abundant land. We’ll see the kind of crops they grew– tobacco and later, cotton. Also made a reproductive slaves strategy more profitable.

This is in sharp contrast to Jamaica, where the sugar crop and slave trade led to the slave holding class to an economic calculation in which reproduction was seen as too costly and a waste of time and a waste of money and was replaced by one in which young Africans were bought, work mercilessly with little concern for their welfare. If you could keep them alive for eight years, you would not only get what you paid for them, but make a handsome profit.

Death was everywhere in Jamaican society, as I show in this sociology of slavery. And in this literary sequel, died around [INAUDIBLE]. The physical death, they tried to shun. The social death, that, they could not.

And I use the term protracted or slow moving genocide to explain the demographic and social situation of the Black population in Jamaica during the period of British slavery from 1655 to about 1830. This is not a metaphor. And it’s the data from the Atlantic slave trade database now available.

It’s possible to calculate more precisely the death rate, the death toll in Jamaican slavery using a simple counterfactual strategy. So I’m going to get to in a minute. And to do that, we need another slave society that shows what might have been possible. The counterfactual had the British proto Leviathan in Jamaica not pursue the demographic strategy of buying mercilessly over exploiting and replacing their slaves from the slave trade.

The demographic experience of the ethnocidal enslaved in North America provides such a counterfactual case. We’ve seen America as a classic case of ethnocide on a grand scale. Jamaica had ethnocide and genocide. [? We ?] protracted genocide. This is my basic argument.

There are many very good recent comparisons of Jamaica and the US. Richard Dunn, the historian, perhaps this brilliant meso-level demographic analysis of these what you call two radically different systems of action and systems in action. Why did I say [INAUDIBLE]? Thinking of [INAUDIBLE] at the back of my mind.

Wherein the Jamaican planter is treated in slate, as quote, “Disposable cogs in a machine, importing slaves from Africa, working them too hard, feeding them too little, exposing them to debilitating diseases, and routinely importing new Africans to replace those who died.” Unquote. That was the situation in Jamaica [INAUDIBLE] in the oil industry.

In contrast to the demographic growth of the enslaved in Virginia, now, to be sure, the American slaveholders were no angels. I mean, this is an economic calculation we’re talking about. All right, and in fact, there’s an easy way of showing that they weren’t angels.

If you could find a situation which they are similar to the Jamaican situation, what would they have done? And we have such a situation. [INAUDIBLE] There’s a lot of counterfactuals one can use in the study of slavery.

And one comes to the historian, Todman, who has shown that if you go to the one exception to the cotton thing down, in America, Louisiana, what were they growing? [? Pain, ?] you found a similar demographic structure similar to what you found in Jamaica. So they were merciless there, too.

And Todman did a brilliant job at that. So the reproductive choice has made easier for them by virtue of the fact that the crops in which they made their wealth was not sugar indeed. And where there were sugar planters, they acted just as viciously inhumane as in Jamaica.

Now there are arguments against this counterfactual strategy, which I considered at some length in the published version of this. And one is that epidemiological factors prevented such a reproductive strategy in Jamaica. And it’s easy to dismiss that by looking at the case of Barbados, where a similar [INAUDIBLE] society actually succeeded in reproducing their slaves.

One set of historians, the [INAUDIBLE] has blamed the breastfeeding habits of West African woman for their difference. Because West African women tend to have long periods of breastfeeding that lead to lower reproduction. It is nonsense. I mean, actually, it comes from a historian, whom I actually like very much, much of his work, and that’s Stan Engerman. But it’s a ridiculous argument.

In fact, modern studies have indicated that the long period of breastfeeding makes a lot of sense indeed, especially in a brutal environment. Because the longer period in which you are feeding the child, a long period of silence will provide more nourishment than the horrible nourishment being provided on the plantation. And perhaps, the best response is that right after slavery was abolished, the reproduction rate started rising almost immediately. African lactation practices had nothing to do with this. This is just a brutal, brutal sort of regime.

So I’m willing to go into the details of this in the discussion. But I won’t. We can talk about that later on. But the basic argument then is that this is a deliberate tragedy. Now what are its consequences? So let me just give you an idea of– one thing to note is the incredible– I’ll get back to this in a minute.

If we look at these two figures I’m going to show you. Did I missed something here? OK. The proportion of slaves who came to Jamaica as opposed to those who came to America. And it’s just staggering. Most people are just not aware of it, and they’re prepared to be shocked, to not believe what you’re seeing.

If you look at these two figures, this figure and this one here. And just take my word for it. We can go in the details. The relative proportion of slaves in the Jamaica and North America mainland between 1661, just [INAUDIBLE] before the British took over the island in 1830, which is just before the end of slavery in Jamaica.

Between 1651 and 1660, North America received far more, far, far more– far less slaves than Jamaica. And sorry, let me repeat that. Between 1651 and 1655, North America actually received far more slaves in Jamaica. But in 1655, when the British took over, we had a different story. Essentially, between 5 and 10 times more slaves were delivered in Jamaica than to North America during the six decades after 1660.

So let me just show you something here. I think maybe one way to do this is I need to get to– maybe escape here. I want to get to one behind there. So yeah, there we go. Bring it all the way. And so some of you have seen this I gather. Yep.

Thank you very much. So here, this is not a simulation, by the way. Oops. [? Better. ?] Can you help me with this thing? This is not a simulation. This is based on real data on the slave trade. And each dot is a slave ship, and it’s a real ship with real numbers.

So if I bring this up here, OK. And just look at– do you see where Jamaica is? Some of you may have gone there on holidays. And it’s up there. It’s this tiny little island here. And of course, we’re in North America is this all of this. OK.

And what I’m saying is that so many more slaves went to this little island, and it’s powerfully reflected in this diagram, in this graphic. Let’s see. [INAUDIBLE]

Mac PC battle.

So, yeah, so just look at where those little dots are going. See how few go to America? Just look at that. And they are all going there. Eventually, they start going to South America, where we’re up to about eight years, 1700. We’re at 1700. Just look at that. It shows–

And as I said, if we stop and look, we have the data on each ship and the numbers taken. It’s just a fantastic database. And so let’s carry on. Now, we’re at about 1700. And let’s go up to about 1760 or so the height of the Jamaica. Just look at that.

You see that there are [INAUDIBLE] this little island. I just find is a very powerful sort of image and so on. And it started going to Brazil and so on. But OK, thank you very much again. Yeah, thank you. Thank you.

So the last decades of the 18th century, between 5 and 10 times more slaves were delivered to Jamaica than to all of North America during the six decades after 1660, and during the last decades of the 18th century, and more than twice as many in the middle decades century. And if this figure here shows the accumulative effect in absolute numbers, between 1650 and 1830, a total– let me see– of over one million Africans were taken to Jamaica while only 388,233 Africans were taken to the United States during that entire period. Just think about that little island, about one fifth the size of California. What happened to them? What is going on? [LAUGHS]

But in 1830, at the end of the period, we find over 2 million enslaved Africans in America. And including freed Blacks, a total of 2.3 million Blacks were in the United States from that number up to 388,000 total. At the same time, only 319,000 enslaved Blacks are in Jamaica. And 357, you took into account the mixed Black population.

So my argument is very simple, one simple counterfactual one. Had Africans and their descendants experience the same rate of increase as the US? The 1830 Black population of Jamaica should have been 5.26 million. And this total, including freed Blacks, should have been a little over 6 million.

Taking account of the 359 survivors, the 9,000, in 1830, with the US then, this counterfactual, we find that there were 5.7 million missing Black people in Jamaica. And that’s the extent of the genocide I’m arguing if one accepts the fact that prevention of reproduction of the brutalization of a population to prevent them from reproducing constitute genocide. This is real genocide. And now, it’s the measure, I said, of physical genocide, in addition to the ethnocide.

So I distinguish them between two kinds of genocide, what they call concentrated and protracted. I’ll use the term concentrated genocide to explain the experience of the Jews in Nazi Germany. Protracted genocide to explain the almost 6 million people who disappeared or did not reproduce in Jamaica.

And secondly, the Jewish physical destruction is concentrated over a period of four years. In Jamaica, it lasted for 183. And in the case of the Jews, where actually living bodies destroyed, and there’s a lot of destruction of physical bodies in Jamaica, I can tell you. Lots of these are killed, beaten to death, died on the treadmill. But apart from these murders, shortened lives, we’re talking about starting lives and potential lives, which were preventively eliminated.

And in my novel, Die the Long Day– in which I went over this thing but from a fictive point of view– looking at slave plantation in a single day, in which a woman was killed at the command of the people after she attempted to kill the slaveholder, and at the funeral that the novel took place over the course of the day of the funeral. And in Jamaica, there is a custom of carrying the corpse– it’s actually the West African custom, that was, again, very, very important in Jamaica– where this was celebrated. And the corpse is carried, and people say goodbye, and bring gifts, and so on.

And so big messages back to West Africa. And what is the period of celebration? Death was a cause for celebration. Happiest day of your life. And I had a character, slightly deranged Fanti woman, and this thing I want to show you, I [INAUDIBLE].

Singing a dirge, her version of a Fanti dirge, I find a tribe in Ghana for which substantial number of Jamaicans came. And this is their dirge. “Do not say anything, O, Mother, Sister. Do not say anything. For anything you say would be too much, and nothing you say will be enough.”

And I thought, that’s very powerful. It sums up the banality of evil and the impossibility of ultimately understanding, making sense [? that ?] [? stuff. ?] Thank you.

[MARION FOURCADE] Thank you very much, Orlando, for this brilliant lecture. So we are really behind. So I hope that you will take another– we will take another 15, 20 minutes. However it takes. First of all, we want to hear Stephen’s comments, and then we will try to end this probably about 15 minutes after.

[STEPHEN BEST] Thank you, Marion. Can everyone hear me? OK? OK. Thank you, Professor Patterson, both for that amazing paper and also for traveling to Berkeley to be with us. Thank you to Marion as well for inviting me to respond. I’m really honored to respond. My auntie in Barbados is very impressed that I’m responding to the illustrious Orlando Patterson.

So Professor Patterson has given us a very thorough sort of account of his transformative work, Slavery and Social Death, a Comparative Study from 1982. I came of age intellectually during a period when that concept of social death had a huge influence on the field of slavery studies in both its humanistic and social science aspects.

And I think Professor Patterson was thinking about some of this work and his side remarks. I’m thinking about the work of Ian [? Balcombe, ?] Stephanie Smallwood, Saidiya Hartman. This is work that has often been criticized in precisely the ways that Professor Patterson has given us, conflating a kind of exposition of slaveholding ideology with a description of the actual condition of the enslaved, mistaking a theoretical abstraction that comes from a breathtaking study of 66 slaveholding societies, reducing that to a description of the life of the enslaved.

Now, Professor Patterson’s influence on my own work and thought does not lie in slavery and social death. It actually lies in a less celebrated essay that he published in 1972 that was critical of the way the legacy of slavery had shaped Black American identity. This is an essay called “Toward a future that has no past reflections on the fate of Blacks in the Americas”. More on that shortly.

So in the talk, he’s given to us today, slavery and genocide, the US, Jamaica, and the historical sociology of evil, Patterson– pardon me for referring to you in the third person or referring to you by your last name. I’ll address you directly at the very end. Patterson explores these– it just feels weird when the person is sitting right next to you, referring to them by their last name.

Orlando– OK, without being disrespectful– Patterson explores the use of social death by genocide scholars. Rather than the future that has no past, Patterson sets out to project the future of a particular past, that is he sets out to imagine how Black Jamaicans would have existed, were it not for the slow rolling genocide that was Jamaican slavery. To see Jamaican slavery as a genocidal act requires the careful stitching together of academic work on either side of the slavery genocide analogy, particularly the uses to which the concept of social death has been put in fine tuning that analogy.

The problem begins with the definition of genocide, a term coined in the mid-forties. Questions of intent, as he’s shown us, have been central to deliberations over genocide as have concerns with ethnic and political group identity and numerical measures of harm, body counts, versus the destruction of a people’s culture and community. The feminist philosopher, [? Cardia ?] Card was one of the first genocide scholars to use the concept of social death to respond to these disputes, and Professor Patterson sort of summarized her work elegantly for us.

One of the first historians to explore the connection between slavery and genocide was Stanley Elkins in the book Slavery, a Problem of American Institutional and Intellectual Life, which was published in 1959. The term genocide had only been coined in the previous decade. Certainly, the nuances of the definition of genocide hadn’t yet been worked out by academics and genocide scholars, but I also imagine that the Nazi Holocaust, at the time a matter of living memory, was for that reason hard to analogize to other experience, which might explain some of the harsh resistance to Elkins’ proposal of a similarity between the American slave and the Jewish inmate.

Whatever the case, Patterson sees a continued lack of nuance in the slavery side of the equation, asserting that genocide scholars has taken a too monolithic view of new world slavery and failed to differentiate between slavery in the US South and slavery in Jamaica. These aren’t simply types of slavery, but in some respects, the extremes, one in which it made economic sense to encourage the reproduction of the slave population, and one in which it did not. Drawing on data from the Atlantic slave trade database, Patterson asks that we entertain a clever and compelling thought experiment that American slavery is the counterfactual to Jamaican slavery.

Now, because I’m trained to think about form, and my mind comes alive when I encounter ideas with a hint of literariness, I’ll focus my comments on the counterfactual and on Patterson’s use of the form. And so my responses are specifically to the argument in the paper, the language of the paper, specifically the language as it relates to the counterfactual.

So the OED defines counterfactual statements as quote, “Pertaining to or expressing what is not in fact happened but might, could, or would in different conditions. Such statements often assume the form of a conditional assertion, which consists–” again, this is from the OED– “–of two categorical clauses. The former of which expressing a condition introduced by if or equivalent word is called the antecedent. The latter, stating the conclusion, is called the consequent.” The counterfactual is a form favored by armchair historians, those who like to speculate what would have happened to America had JFK not been assassinated, or what would have happened had Europe not vanquished Hitler.

As Catherine Gallagher observes in her recent book, Telling It Like It Wasn’t: The Counterfactual Imagination in History and Fiction, the form has a long history. It has its origins in military histories, specifically the histories of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, military histories of France and Prussia. The Prussian military theorist, Carl Von Clausewitz, one of the earliest adherents, felt that counterfactual speculation gave one the ability to gain knowledge from the past for the sake of future planning.

We’re perhaps most familiar with its appearance in fiction and popular culture, time travel narratives. One of my favorites is a novel entitled, Black in Time, published in 1970, in which Black scholars use a secret invention called the Nexus apparatus to travel back in time and confirm the blackness of certain historical figures. This, of course, anodyne project goes awry, and they start intervening in history. Some things that happen in that novel, the scholars, as they’re traveling back, intervene in the exchange of food and slaves between settlers in Jamestown, and the crew of a distressed Dutch ship, the sort of origin of North American slavery in 1619.

We also encounter the form in legal cases, particularly cases in which a broad remedy is sought. Plessy versus Ferguson, Brown versus Board of Education, Bakke versus the Regents of the University of California, all are cases that draw on the counterfactual form. The legal theorists, HLA Hart and AM Honoré, observed in their book, Causation in the Law, that the legal counterfactual tries to answer two simple questions.

First, would y have occurred if x had not occurred? And second, is there any principle which precludes the treatment of y as the consequence of x for legal purposes? Why, if everyone, from military historians to human rights lawyers, found the counterfactual useful, why take the mode seriously?

The counterfactual offers logical scenarios that self-consciously attempt to re-articulate the relation between past and present. When used to decouple the actual present from the historical past, the counterfactual can serve the ends of historical activism– assigning praise or blame to historical actors, exploring the role of human agency and responsibility in history, satisfying the ambition to shape history rather than merely record it, affording comparative assessments of history.

Alternate histories, civil rights cases, demands for reparations, international justice movements, Gallagher notes how these projects converge on the idea that quote, “To change the status quo in the present, we should try to imagine what sort of past could have led to a present we’d like to inhabit and a future we could wholeheartedly desire.” End of quote.

And in the book, Telling It Like It Wasn’t, Gallagher is very interested in different forms of the counterfactual histories, which are largely analytical works, such as histories of wars, economic crises, that explore multiple possibilities that went unrealized, alternate histories, which describe a kind of continuous sequence of departures from the historical record, and then alternate history novels, which use fictional characters to kind of flesh out the social and other consequences of alternate realities.

But all of these forms kind of adhere to what she calls a kind of counterfactual historical mode, which he defines in these terms quote, “An explicit or implicit past tense hypothetical conditional conjuncture pursued when the antecedent condition is known to be contrary to fact.” End of quote. So I apologize for providing this potted history of the counterfactual form but I think it gives us language to place Patterson’s use of the form. His use of the counterfactual isn’t clearly within any one of these categories, rather he draws on a variety of tools available through the counterfactual.

Works in the counterfactual historical mode adhere to a number of conventions. And it’s these conventions I want to use to then ask some questions about counterfactual thinking in this paper. I want to ask whether these kind of conventions apply in the case of Patterson’s counterfactual. So first convention, counterfactual history is an alternate histories, tend to deploy a discrete sense of the event, spinning out departures from the historical record based on very calculated changes to specific events, events sharply bounded in time.

Second, counterfactual list, as Gallagher observes, tend to vary events while holding historical entities constant. So they tend to assume that the entities are identical, right, the persons, the armies, the governments, in our actual history remain constant even though their destinies, the totality of what they think, do, and suffer are changed.

Now seems the right moment then to return to the slavery genocide analogy. Why does the analogy between slavery and genocide make more sense in Patterson’s formulation than it did in Elkins’? I would argue it has something to do with the counterfactual historical mode and the more recent developments in the form. Given these developments and the affinity of social and international justice movements for the form, it should come as no surprise that Patterson chooses to explore the comparison between slavery and genocide within the framework of a counterfactual thought experiment.

Interestingly, Patterson stretches the parameters of the counterfactual historical mode in ways that raise provocative questions for the kinds of intellectual work the counterfactual can do. So here’s where I address you, and not Orlando Patterson. I have two sets of questions for you, and I hope you don’t mind if I address them to you directly. The second question actually is a response to the written conclusion of your paper. So I hope you don’t mind if I read the written conclusion before I ask your question.

So the first, you expanded the time horizon of the event in the antecedent condition in your counterfactual. While the Jewish physical elimination, as you put it, was concentrated over a short period of five years– and I think we saw that in the slide– you acknowledge that the British genocide of Blacks in Jamaica took place over 183 years, quote, “In the drip, drip, drip of shortened lives and curtailed fertility.” Close quote.

You can see that in Raphael Lemkin’s classic statement of genocide, he cautions that it be viewed as a process over time rather than event. I wouldn’t dispute that. But I would like to hear you reflect on the role that big data has played in making 200 years appear plausible as an event horizon for the act of genocide.

The second question, or the second set of thoughts responds to the final page of your paper, this 183 years. So if I’ll be allowed, I’ll read that, those final two paragraphs, because they shaped how I responded to the larger paper. You wrote, “When British slavery was finally abolished in 1838, Jamaicans had experienced it for 183 years. The island has never fully recovered from the uniquely violent decimation of that first half of its history.

Dan Stone has written, ‘One of the characteristics of traumatic memory is that it cannot be suppressed at will. And societies remain scarred long after its experience.’ The prime minister of Jamaica, honorable Andrew Holness, in his 2021 Emancipation Day speech, commemorating the abolition of slavery in the island, noted that it had been 183 years since abolition. And the role that the last great rebellion of the enslaved led by national hero, Samuel Sharpe, played in bringing it about. But then, he added something with which his entire nation would have somberly agreed, quote, ‘The use of violence has followed us from our history.'” End of quote.

Today, you write, “Jamaica remains one of the most violent nations in the world as it was in the 18th century with a homicide rate that places it in the top five of all nations and a rate of femicide, the murder of women, consistently at the very top of the world’s nations. The dead yards of the nation’s slums bear ghoulish witness to the plantation dead yards of that first half of its existence. For Jamaica–” and I think you’re quoting Dan Stone here again. “–the politics of post genocidal memories are matters of life and death.”

So then my second response, where the long standing convention in counterfactual histories is to take entities to remain constant in the thought experiment while the surrounding circumstances change, the situation here seems to be reversed. The initial thought experiment– or to initiate the thought experiment, you ask that we imagine the Jamaican planter making decisions in a North American context. Nothing out of the ordinary there.

But in the long temporal arc covered by this paper, it begins to feel that the genocide of Jamaican slavery goes from being the work of Jamaican planters to that of the formerly enslaved and their descendants. From a situation in which, quote, “The demographic strategy of the Jamaican slaveholder was one of clear choice.” End of quote. To one in which, as you quote Dan Stone, “The characteristics of traumatic memory cannot be suppressed at will.”

There seems to be more than simply memory implied in the phrase traumatic memory. In quoting prime minister Holness, Holness says, “The use of violence has followed us from slavery.” Or in saying that the island has never fully recovered during the second half of its history from the violence of its first half.

Here, I would note that in Holocaust studies, a core issue has been what Pierre Vidal-Naquet calls the transformation of memory into history. The threat that the memories of the Holocaust that have sustained Jewish identity will disappear as the survivors of the genocide die. That what was initially transmitted as the horror of genocide will be passed on as the normalizing knowledge of the horror.

Your paper ends on a note that suggests the opposite to be the case in post-genocide Jamaica, the transformation of the island’s violent slave history into memory into Jamaican cultural identity. If the analogy between slavery and genocide is more secure in the wake of your argument, which I think it is, shouldn’t we be inclined to see greater similarities between the post genocidal experiences of Black Jamaicans and diasporic Jews? Or, if I may be so frank, would we ever speak of the traumatic memory of the Holocaust in this way? Thanks.

[MARION FOURCADE] Thank you very much, Stephen. So maybe we can let Orlando answer, and then if we have time, maybe for one question to satisfy the audience.

[ORLANDO PATTERSON] Thank you very much Stephen for the very, very stimulating insightful comments. Yeah, there are two basic issues. There were many issues, I mean, to do with the nature of the counterfactual and so on. But I want to just look at the question of protracted genocide, which I’m suggesting, distinguishes Jamaican from the concentrated genocide of the Jewish people.

And your second question, which I kind of decided to leave out. And in the end, since it can so easily lead to misunderstanding. But–


[ORLANDO PATTERSON] That’s OK. This is the paper I send. And it relates to a lot of issues, which I have with contemporary thinkers, especially in America, less so in the Caribbean. But I lead two lives, and so I’m open to suggestion, and I was looking forward very much to what people have to say about protracted genocide, that is it possible to go on over a period of 183 years?

And Lemkin, in fact, suggests that it indeed– I took some comfort from that fact. And there are many people who– peoples, other than the Black Americans, who can claim that. Certainly, North American-Indian ethnocide, was seen as a protracted one. And if we are to accept the [? Pope’s ?] identification of ethnocide with genocide, that of the North American Indians, is a protracted one, even longer than that of Black Americans. And there are other peoples who have similarly suffered. But it’s something I’m open to.

I mean, should we confine– hard talks about the body counts as being something which should be careful not to get too obsessed. One could talk about the time counts, as something which we should perhaps not get too concerned. But it’s a legitimate question.

For me, I’d say one of the important things is that there is no interlude. There is no period in which it had stopped and started again. It was a relentless continuous process, beginning with a much smaller population.

And then the interesting thing was, by the way, that the population grew but it grew entirely from imported arms. So they were importing so many and killing so many that those who were left over were enough to grow the population. But nothing as much as that of the Americans.

I also made the important point, which I didn’t have the time to get into in the paper, that in justifying the use of America as the counterfactual of that, the issue of intent is important, in that could they have done otherwise? And because, in a way, Engerman and others are suggesting, in fact, that it was the price they had to make. The environment, the diseases, the tropical diseases, and so on, the theme, the African lactation practices, and so on made it impossible for them, which I found unpersuasive.

But more importantly, the point, which I left out, is the fact that they made such enormous riches that they could easily afford to import more of the food that they did to feed the slaves, the codfish from Canada, the salted pork from America. They were importing the stuff. The recent economic indicates that the average white Jamaican was 36 times wealthier than the average North American white person.

So, I mean, they could still remain very, very rich, and, by the way, much of the wealth of Britain, which– from the work of Eric Williams, generated a good part of them, British capitalism, capitalist growth– came from Jamaica. They were fabulously rich. So it would be just a scrap, a small percentage, of the enormous profits that they are making, that they could use to import just a little more codfish and salted pork and wheat.

So we are talking about starvation. I mean, people were just dropping dead of starvation. That’s how hungry they were then. And I document this a great length in sociology of slavery. And they saw it, as for the kids, they just did not want them. And the children live absolutely miserable lives and most died, again, of malnutrition and the diseases that were [INAUDIBLE].

So and this was a continuous process. There was no letting up. It just continued right through for 183 years, in spite of all the revolts. So I feel justified in saying that this meets the definition of protracted genocide.

But I’d love to get more responses to this, to come up with a more nuanced, sort of view of this, or whether the concept makes sense at all, whether, as I said, like the body counts, It’s important, the time counts. Maybe no more than five years or 10 years or something like that. I don’t find that plausible.

But now, other point, it’s more serious because [INAUDIBLE] they see it as now. When a people have suffered oppression for many years, decades, centuries, two kinds of victimization, two kinds of damage. That very word damage of itself sort of untestable and controversial take place. There are the external powers of oppression, internal weapons of oppression and its consequences.

And as we all know, this is what [INAUDIBLE] racism and the impoverishments, this sort of [INAUDIBLE] after hundreds of years. Black Americans end up slavery with zero wealth and so on and so forth, which have consequences. And by the way, there’s now a very interesting literature emerging finally on the legacies of slavery, which is trying to quantify the consequences of slavery in a very interesting way. Now–

[STEPHEN BEST] They’re going to come back. [LAUGHS] They’ll come back for you.

[ORLANDO PATTERSON] Yeah, all right. I got that habit from [INAUDIBLE]. To make my point, [INAUDIBLE]. There’s also something else that goes on with oppression, and that’s immiseration, the effects of oppression on the oppressed. That is what Elkins dared to touch on and got himself in serious trouble, relegated to the dustbin of history, [INAUDIBLE].

There was a time when a few sociologists and historians did go there, including the boys, let me say. But there are others like Abraham [? Codina, ?] who did look at that. What are the effects? And you could read any number of works. I mean, all Black sociologists, early Blacks, so right down to Clark, who, as you know, was this social psychologist, who made a social science argument for Brown v Board of Education with his doll studies showing the effects of oppression on little Black kids, and why they choose white dolls, instead of Black dolls. That was part of that tradition of looking at what the consequences of immiseration.

Starting about 1970– yeah, ’70s and so. That became a huge no-no. Got tied up with [? Moynihan ?] and blaming the victim. And a major study, which came out at this time, by Ryan on blaming the victim and the culture of poverty and all the rest of it. And that all added up to one of the central prohibitions in social science, and certainly, in my discipline. And increasingly in history because the historians also began to toe the line.

You have nothing to say on the effects of oppression, on the oppressed. That’s a no-no in scholarship. That’s an absolute no-no. And there are set of swear words in terms of abuse. But anyone who dares to go there. Now, that’s America.

I don’t dare to go there, and I’ve given up because I also am very active in Jamaican intellectual life. I’ve been, for a long time, I was part of attempting to start a socialist revolution in Jamaica, a special advisor to Michael Manley. We failed. But it is a great experience. I’ve done that. I’m very much involved, and we have a rich intellectual tradition.

Now, because Jamaica is a Black society, I can go there. And indeed, I have on one of my slides, just a newspaper article just a few weeks ago talking about the legacy of slavery. And that’s where they’re going. And the talk and the violence– and when the prime minister talk about– I mean, I was quoting him. The legacy behind is going back to slave. What is talking about is the effects of oppression on the oppressed.

Now, here’s one of the big differences between America and the Caribbean, but especially Jamaica. You can’t go there in America, and none of you dare go there. And I think that’s sad. But part of the reason is– is it the white gaze or the Black Bourgeois gaze? I don’t know.

Sorry, but I’m going to get sort of little sort of controversial here. There’s the need– and about the time I published the article you mentioned, I also published another article on rethinking Black History, in which the Bourgeois voice became important and what is important in that voice. And there is some aspects of that in Jewish history, is a usable past. How do you create a usable past?

And Bourgeois historians insisting then in a reinterpretation of the past, which satisfies the need of Bourgeois historians, but which does not do justice to the facts. And so I can go on much more on this, except to say that I can say this, I rarely say this here. I can say this easily in Jamaica because, I mean, the problem, it’s not just the prime minister.

Everyone sort of sees the consequences of oppression, the immiseration and what it does. What it does, the violence of the slaveholder class against slave women sadly got replicated in a chain of oppression in which anyone who has any command over anyone else abused. And it is replicated in the abuse of men over women or of adults over children. So we still beat children in Jamaica to a degree, which is sort of outrageous.

The use of the cat o’ nine did not stop [? a ?] slave. As late as 2000, a Jamaican judge was sentencing people to 30 lashes of the cat o’ nine. As then people finally woke up, and said, oh, my God. What are we doing? And it finally was abolished. It’s still on the books. They’re just not–

So what I’m saying is it’s perhaps not possible in this North America and US climate of all the gazes. History and sociology, subject to gazing, and the white gaze the Black Bourgeois gaze, the bourgeoisie who want to have a history, which they can be proud of or the sensitivity about the past, makes certain things unsayable. And when I open my big mouth and say it I get so confused, and I it conservative.

Yeah, I go to Jamaica, and people are still mad at me for messing up the economy in the 1970s. You’re damn socialist– social support of Manley and Castro and so on. I mean, it’s only at my older age that people are beginning to be less abusive of a communist sort of wrecker of the economy in the ’70s. So it’s a funny kind of schizophrenic life I have. I mean, but I’ve gotten used to it. [LAUGHS]



[MARION FOURCADE] Thank you so much. I’m sorry, we don’t have time for a question. Well, we’re supposed to be at the restaurant at 6:15. But if you answer in one minute, Orlando. OK, so we have a question, one question here.

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] Thank you for coming, professor. My name is Paul [? Liam, ?] a visiting scholar in the Department of African-American Studies. I’d like to ask you about two gentlemen that you have an acquaintance with, but I’ve never seen you write about. The first one was the young constable in Kingston, Jamaica. When in November 1927, Marcus Garvey was deported from the United States there. This young constable had a gift for stenography.


I’d like you to tell us who this was and give us an assessment of his work. The second gentleman I’d like to ask you about was an African-American leader who spoke at the London School of Economics on February 11, 1965. Among the young Caribbeans, there were two young men from Trinidad, Tony Martin, who later became the Premier Garvey scholar, and a young hustler named Michael de Freitas, who is in the process of recreating himself as a Black Power leader, known as Michael Abdul Malik and Michael X.

And there was also a young lecturer there, you. Can you tell us who this visiting African-American leader was and tell us what his effect was on these students? Thank you.

[ORLANDO PATTERSON] Well, the first person referred to was my father. When Marcus Garvey was deported by the FBI having tried to start the first [? monster ?] of the revolution to Jamaica, the [INAUDIBLE] went berserk. Because here is this– that man has started– maybe– I think this is going to come to a quiet little island. So they decided the way to get him is on some form of treason. And to that, they would certainly get it from his speeches.

So they asked a young detective, who turned out to be the best shorthand person because there are no tape recorders at the time, to tail him and write down all these pieces, and eventually, they’re certain to be able to get him on subversion, treason, and so on. My father did that, and, yes, his shorthand was perfect. And so the best records of Garvey’s speeches in the world are my father’s account of these speeches.

Well, that’s not the end of the story. In the course of [INAUDIBLE], he became converted to Garvey [INAUDIBLE]. And the authorities never forgave him. They never promoted him. Eventually, he was quite radicalized, and he started a police federation union, which alienated him even more, and they kicked him out of the force. So that is the story of my dad, and I grew up with the philosophy and opinions of Marcus Garvey [INAUDIBLE].

Well, there’s far more of this in the book products. Read them. So what happens during my– again, you are to look fast forward to my new left days at the lecture in the London School of Economics. [INAUDIBLE] Malcolm X. And yes, we were very, very moved by Malcolm X.

And I was then on the editorial board of new [INAUDIBLE] review, and I remember the anxiety that [INAUDIBLE] [? Terry ?] Anderson were there. And what effects? Oh, yeah, the very powerful effects in all of us. And I was then correcting the manuscript of my thesis for the first book of sociology of slavery.

And I’d say he had a very radicalizing effect. He’s just such a charismatic person. And I would say the effect was just extremely galvanizing. And it led me to make an important decision, which is to give up my position at the London School of Economics and return home, which I did a year later. And I’ve been radical ever since, except–



[MARION FOURCADE] Those are the perfect famous last words, and I wish we could continue this, another two hours.

Thank you for coming.

Thank you for coming. Thank you so much, Orlando and Stephen, for this fabulous exchange.

[STEPHEN BEST] Thank you, Marion


Thank you.

I know. [LAUGHTER]



Social Sciences Fest

2023 Social Sciences Fest Celebrates Faculty, Staff

Raka Ray addresses the crowd
Dean Raka Ray spoke to attendees at Social Sciences Fest

On April 25, faculty and staff members from across the Division of Social Sciences gathered for Social Sciences Fest, the annual celebration of the social sciences at UC Berkeley. This year’s celebration was held at Alumni House, and all of the division’s faculty — along with their families — were invited to attend.

“This is a division that, despite being so severely under-resourced, nurtures its students like no other, produces research that matters, and produces and contributes massive amounts of service to campus, so we should take every opportunity to celebrate ourselves,” said Raka Ray, Dean of the Division of Social Sciences, in an address to the event’s attendees.

Dean Raka Ray (center) with staff from the D-Lab
Dean Ray (center) with staff from the D-Lab

Ray noted that, over the past year, the division’s faculty have won a variety of book awards, teaching awards, article awards, and other recognition. (“If I were to mention them all, I would be here for two hours listing awards,” she joked.)

She singled out a few of the more sizable achievements, including a $1 million grant to support mentoring Latinx studies and scholarship; a $10 million grant from the Hewlett Foundation to launch the Berkeley Economy and Society Initiative; a new career readiness initiative to help first-generation undergraduates to earn paid internships; and the approval of a new Master of Computational Social Sciences (MCSS) degree program.

Marion Fourcade, Director of Social Science Matrix, detailed some of the past year’s activities at Matrix, including Matrix Salons, social gatherings held at Matrix that are intended to build community among faculty members. “It’s been another really busy year at Matrix,” Fourcade said. “Our mission is to bring together this wonderful community of the Berkeley social sciences, and to stitch together the social and intellectual fabric of Berkeley, bit by bit.”

Fourcade explained that Matrix supports interdisciplinary research by providing funding to Matrix Research Teams, and by organizing a range of workshops, conferences, and lectures. “We bring the external world to Berkeley by inviting people from across the country and beyond,” she said.

Jill Bakehorn
Jill Bakehorn

Ray welcomed the division’s new faculty members, as well as those who are retiring or who earned promotions or tenure. She also recognized two faculty members with the Distinguished Teaching Award. The first honoree was Jill Bakehorn, a continuing lecturer in the Department of Sociology who “receives amazingly rave reviews from students and peers alike,” Ray said. “Despite teaching large classes, she remains attentive, accessible, and kind. And her lectures affect students beyond the classroom and their time at Berkeley.”

In receiving the award, Bakehorn dedicated the award to “the typically unsung hard work of all the lecturers at UC Berkeley, who work so tirelessly to educate and inspire the students in extraordinarily difficult circumstances, while simultaneously experiencing a lot of precarity and uncertainty in their own jobs.”

The second Distinguished Teaching Award went to James Vernon, a professor in the UC Berkeley Department of History who, Ray said, “concerns himself with making courses engaging for students, and famously offers a course on history of soccer, which ties into many relevant topics on globalization. His [graduate student instructors] feel included like they are teaching along with him and revel at the students excitement in courses that are historically difficult to get enthusiastic over.”

Professor Vernon could not attend the event, but shared his thanks through pre-written remarks. “Of all the things we do at UC Berkeley, teaching is the most important for me, and is so essential to the public mission of the university,” Vernon said. “While I delight in receiving this award, it is really an award for all of us who live in fear that we unravel in the classroom. It is an award for all of those colleagues, graduate students, and faculty alike who have taught me how to teach. And lastly, of course, it is an award for our wonderful students who never cease to amaze me — and from whom I never cease to learn.”

Department managers
All the department managers from the Division of Social Sciences received Distinguished Service Awards.

Ray awarded this year’s Distinguished Service Awards to the managers of the division’s departments, including Marianne Bartholomew-Couts (History), Serena Groen (Political Science), Joan Kask (ISSP), David Kim (Anthropology), Susan Luong (Linguistics), Josh Mandel (Geography), Alex Mastrangeli (Psychology), Sandy Richmond (African American Studies, Ethnic Studies, & Gender and Women’s Studies), Michael Schneider (Demography & Sociology), and Phil Walz (Economics).

“You incredible group of people, you deal with everything from TAS submissions to leaky pipes, from managing always charming faculty, to helping students in crisis, and you do so trying to keep everybody’s spirits up,” Ray said. “I thank you on behalf of the division — and on behalf of each of your departments.”




Additional Images


micha cárdenas: Poetic Operations and Trans Ecologies

In this talk, recorded on April 26, 2023, Dr. micha cárdenas, Associate Professor of Performance, Play and Design, and Associate Professor of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at UC Santa Cruz, discussed her book Poetic Operations (Duke 2022), as well as her augmented reality artwork about climate justice and her forthcoming book, After Man: Fires, Oceans and Androids.

micha cárdenas
micha cárdenas

In Poetic Operations, cárdenas considers contemporary digital media, artwork, and poetry in order to articulate trans of color strategies for safety and survival. Drawing on decolonial theory, women of color feminism, media theory, and queer of color critique, cárdenas develops a method she calls “algorithmic analysis.”

In her forthcoming book After Man: Fires, Oceans and Androids, cárdenas confronts the dual crises of climate change and COVID-19, which have prompted speculation on the end of humanity. Following on the thinking of Sylvia Wynter, cárdenas considers the end of humanism not from the privileged place of posthumanism, but from a decolonial viewpoint that many of us never had the privilege to be considered human. She dwells in what comes after man, in contemporary art, science fiction, and international art biennials.

This talk was co-sponsored by Social Science Matrix, the UC Berkeley Department of Ethnic Studies, the Center for Race and Gender, and the Center for the Study of Sexual Culture. The event was organized and moderated by Professor Salar Mameni, a Matrix Faculty Fellow.

Matrix On Point

Matrix on Point: Border Crossing

Part of the Matrix on Point Event Series

Changing economic and legal circumstances alongside humanitarian crises are shifting the politics and histories of borders today, and reshaping the interdisciplinary field of border studies.

For this Matrix on Point panel, recorded on April 20, 2023, we asked a group of UC Berkeley PhD candidates to share their ongoing research on borders and migration. The panel was moderated by Irene Bloemraad, Class of 1951 Professor, Thomas Garden Barnes Chair of Canadian Studies & Director of the Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative (BIMI), which co-sponsored the event.


Pauline White Meeusen is a PhD candidate in Jurisprudence and Social Policy. Her research interests include law and social movements, immigration law and policy, the legal profession, and border theory. Her dissertation explores whether and how attorneys and legal advocates who have served asylum seekers at the U.S. border and in detention come to see themselves as part of a social movement. As part of this project, she is bringing together immigration law and policy with border theory to explore the multi-layered borderscape in which these legal actors are embedded. Pauline received her B.A. in International Relations from Wellesley College, an M.A. from the University of Chicago, and her J.D. with a specialization in International Law from the UC Berkeley School of Law.

Gisselle Perez-Leon is a PhD candidate in the Department of History. Originally from Mexico City, and raised in Queens, NY, her research covers urban history and migration in modern Latin America. Her dissertation traces the development of public services and municipal governance in the border city of Nogales, Sonora. Prior to graduate school, she worked for the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Racial Justice Program.

Adriana P. Ramirez is a sixth-year PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at UC Berkeley. Her research interests lie at the intersection of migration, citizenship, Latin America, political sociology, race and ethnicity, and youth.  Her current work explores what happens when young migrants leave the U.S. to “return” to Oaxaca, Mexico.



Matrix on Point: Border Crossings


[MUSIC PLAYING] [MARION FOURCADE] Hello, everybody. Hello. My name is Marion Fourcade, and I am the director of Social Science Matrix. I am delighted to welcome you to our even today, and it’s actually one of my favorite events of the year. Every year, we try to do at least one of our Matrix on Point panel with graduate students. Last year, we had a fabulous panel on new studies in policing, and this year our theme is border crossing. So this is a panel that will examine the US-Mexico border and the mobilities of people and also things there. This is an event that is co-sponsored by BIMI, the Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative.

But before we move on to our panel, I have a few sort of housekeeping things to do. The first is that I will announce the few remaining events as we are wrapping up our semesters here at Matrix. So on April 26, we will have Micha Cárdenas who will be speaking as part of the colloquium series organized by our faculty fellow Salar Mameni. Then on April 28, Ethan Katz, another faculty fellow, has organized an all-day symposium on Jews and others who resisted the Nazis. And then finally, the whole beginning of the week of May 1, we will have Orlando Patterson. He will give us the Matrix– he will give the Matrix distinguished lecture on May 1, and we will have also a lunchtime conversation hopefully with many graduate students on May 2nd.

Now let me introduce our moderator, Irene Bloemraad. She’s the class of 1951 Professor of Sociology and my colleague, my dear colleague. She also serves as the Thomas Garden Barnes chair of Canadian Studies at Berkeley. She’s the founding director of BIMI, the Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative, and she co-directs the Boundaries, Membership, and Belonging program of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Studies– oh, sorry, for Advanced Research. In 2014-2015, she was a member of the US National Academies of Sciences committee reporting on the integration of immigrants into American society, so we couldn’t have a better moderator to take this panel away. And she will introduce our speakers. Thank you.

[IRENE BLOEMRAAD] I’m going to be doing this sitting down. I first want to thank everyone who came out for this luncheon presentation. I think you’re all in for a treat. I checked the Zoom about a few minutes ago, and we have 15 people on Zoom. So that’s a really great audience, and hopefully there’ll be some more people coming as we get started. I want to thank Marion, I want to thank Matrix for reaching out to us at the Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative to invite us to co-sponsor this event. I really think that this event highlights what is best about Matrix, BIMI, and UC Berkeley.

So it involves cutting-edge research, interdisciplinary cutting-edge research. It highlights a new generation of scholars and teachers coming out of Berkeley the best of the best. And these scholars and presentations have really important things to say to one of the thorniest issues of contemporary politics and public policy migration. And this panel really highlights the important research with public purpose and importance that comes out of Matrix, BIMI, and UC Berkeley. So I want to thank our panelists for the work you do and for sharing it with all of us.

I am going to introduce the three speakers in the order in which they are going to speak, and I’m going to introduce all three of them so that once they start speaking, we can just move through each person. The first person who’s speaking, who’s immediately to my right, is Giselle Perez-Leon. She is a PhD candidate in the department of history. Originally from Mexico City, raised in Queens, New York. Her research covers urban history and migration in modern Latin America. Her dissertation traces the development of public services and municipal governance in the border city of Nogales, Sonora. And prior to graduate school, she worked for the American Civil Liberties Union’s racial justice program.

And then over right beside her is Pauline White Meeusen. Pauline is a PhD candidate in the jurisprudence and social policy program. Her research interests include law and social movements, immigration law and policy, the legal profession, and border theory. Her dissertation explores whether and how attorneys and legal advocates who have served asylum seekers on the US border and in detention come to see themselves as part of a social movement. As part of this project, she’s bringing together immigration law and policy with border theory to explore the multilayered bordered landscape, or borderscapes, in which these legal actors are embedded.

And then right beside Pauline is Adriana Ramirez, and she is a sixth year PhD candidate in the department of sociology. Her research interests lie at the intersection of migration, citizenship, Latin America, political sociology, race ethnicity, and youth, bringing all of those streams together. And her current research explores what happens when young migrants leave the United States to “return–” and I put that in scare quotes because, as we’re going to learn, some of them are not returning. –to Oaxaca, Mexico. So as you’ve heard, absolutely fascinating research. And we’re going to start with Gisselle.

[GISSELLE PEREZ-LEON] Thank you, everyone, for coming. Thank you to the Social Science Matrix for hosting this event, and thank you to Julia and Chuck for coordinating it as well. My dissertation entitled Border Civics, Race, Gender, and the Right to the City in Nogales, Sonora 1882 to 1970 is an urban historical analysis of the 32-mile section of the Sonora-Arizona border region known as Nogales. For the purposes of this panel, I focus on Nogales fronterizos, border residents who engage in daily pedestrian crossings at designated ports of entry.

Nogales has a history unique to its founding. In 1841, Mexico ceded a land grant to Jose Elias to establish a ranch, Los Nogales de Elias, named for the walnut trees that lined the Santa Cruz river valley. Outsiders sometimes describe the mountain pass and the surrounding desert as inhospitable for its semi-arid climate, but Sonoran communities, including the Opata and O’odham nations, long established trade and patterns of seasonal migrations through the Nogales corridor that responded to climate fluctuations, rainfall, and the flow of the Santa Cruz River.

The northernmost section of the Elias ranch became part of the US after the Gadsden Purchase in 1853. Russian-Jewish immigrants, Isaac and Jacob Isaacson, homesteaded this part as Isaacson, Arizona, and the US Postal Service renamed it Nogales, Arizona in 1883. A year later, the neighboring Nogales, Sonora declared itself the seat of a new independent municipality. Completion of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1882 catalyzed movement of people and capital at a much greater scale.

In her oral history interview with the Pimeria Alta Historical Society, Ada Aki Jones remembers that Mrs. WR Morley, wife of the railroad’s chief engineer, drove the last spike that completed the railroad with one foot on the fender of the engine of the US side of the line and the other resting in Mexico. Most retellings of Nogales, Arizona’s founding and the arrival of the railroad are similarly vivid, and nearly all emphasized both Nogales as one shared community.

Nogales’s rise as a major port of entry in the early 20th century opened commercial opportunities not only to US and European industry investors in the mining and agricultural sectors, but also to Mexican women employed at restaurants, bars, and cabarets along the border, Chinese merchants, and other small local business owners who benefited from the cross-border traffic. Residents of Nogales, Arizona made weekly grocery shopping trips to the Sonoran city’s open-air market, even after immigration restrictions, heightened administrative requirements for border crossing cards. Border commerce was mutually beneficial to residents on either side.

I conduct most of my archival research at the municipal archive in Nogales, Sonora. Few borderlands historians consult Mexican Municipal archives relying primarily on consular reports and documentation from federal agencies. This 1926 letter from Municipal President Guillermo Mascareñas highlights some of my project’s motivations, Mascareñas’ response to a state request for statistics on regional culture throughout Mexico. The collected data would eventually be published in a national report called Mexico’s Riches.

The subject reads, “There are no traditional songs or dances in this municipality.” It goes on, “After making the necessary investigations, we have not found in the municipality songs, sounds, nor traditional dances, for in this jurisdiction, there are no existing Indigenous tribes that might have them. The Pueblo, distributed in the countryside and which makes up the population of the rancherias, as well as the city, exclusively plays songs, corridos, and rhythms brought from the state of Sinaloa, especially the Port of Mazatlan.” The city’s middle and upper classes generally play popular Mexican songs disseminated by theaters, clubs, and scores, noting the great influence of American music in addition to dances that are completely adopted and generalized.”

Mascareñas’ representation of Nogales’s cultural traditions as one simply adopted and characterized by US hybridity echoes the frustrating public rhetoric that flattens the diverse regions of the 1,954-mile international boundary into a series of abstractions, like el norte, the border, or borderlands. Meanwhile, even though the Arizona-Sonora border divided traditional O’odham lands, the removal of O’odham peoples from their ranches allowed Mascareñas to claim that no existing Indigenous tribes had influenced the culture of the area. The region was an unstable landscape for post-revolutionary nation building.

Documenting the city’s development through its municipal archive reveals that, by the 1920s, northbound labor migrations and southbound pedestrian border crossings became a matter of increasing concern to local and federal officials. Promises of employment in US agriculture or mining industries led hopeful Mexican laborers to travel by rail to the Nogales port where enganchadores, US contractors, many of whom were of Mexican descent who offered to assist potential border crossers by providing stolen or falsified documents, only had to wait each day for the train arriving with hundreds of workers and proceed to offer what were likely coercive contracts.

In 1919, Ciudad Juárez, Piedras Negras, and Nogales, all posted circulars in city streets urging laborers from the Mexican interior not to accept the false promises of enganchadores and warning Mexican nationals of the risk of deportation. Municipal presidents feared burdening already bankrupt treasuries with a growing population of returned migrants in need of public assistance. Charitable organizations in Nogales, including the Red Cross, voluntarily ran a temporary shelter known as the Salón de Engachadors, which sometimes overflowed into a nearby wash housing the local health inspector to declare the establishment a public health hazard in 1920.

Nogales city officials were constantly reacting to the problem of the border. The Nogales municipal president also worried about the impact of unfettered visits from Prohibition era Americans to Sonoran cantinas. In 1921, Francisco Ramos went as far as to temporarily declare that in consideration of the innumerable scandal stirred in the cantinas and cabarets caused by the presence of women, of whom the majority are of poor conduct and considering also that their presence constitutes a threat to morality and public order, no woman could be hired as an employee in those businesses anywhere in the city.

This postcard of the boundary marks Sonora as the wet region versus the Arizona dry. And at this point, there’s a chain-link fence in between the telephone poles. Those are placed in 1918 after a skirmish known as the Battle of Nogales. Before that, the boundary was only demarcated by obelisks, like this one. So the monument markers. The slow hardening of the border would likely spell more problems for Nogales city officials. Mexican officials fluctuated between seeing its northern regions as problematic, unincorporated peripheries, and sites of economic promise and nation building.

Both Mexican and US modernization projects of the Nogales gateway privileged ordered settlement over mobility, a characteristic which had historically defined the region. Increased border security and more imposing border structures stood at odds with the existing local economy, which relied on shared public space and drastically altered the day to day interactions of border residents. Chinese fronterizos successfully negotiated identities at the border as Chinese Exclusion in the US made it more difficult to cross for them.

In the 1890s, most Mexicans were relatively free to cross the border, stopped only for suspicions of smuggling contraband. To guard the 300-mile border with Sonora, the Nogales and Tucson customs station shared two collectors, two Chinese inspectors, and one mountain inspector. Chinese were subject to additional questioning in the 1880s, but Mexican citizenship could provide some degree of protection.

By 1911, around 35,000 Chinese had entered Mexico. Porfirio Díaz and his científicos had hoped that European immigrants would be specifically drawn to major cities and that other migrants would populate more remote regions. Half of the Chinese population who migrated to Mexico settled mostly in Sonora, worked on railroad construction, or set up shops responding to the demands of internal commercial markets.

By 1903, Chinese owned at least 10 of 37 shoe factories in Sonora, producing over $100,000 in goods each year. Lee Sing arrived in Sonora in the late 1870s before settling in Tucson where he opened a small dry goods store with his brother. They sold beef jerky, beans, and whiskey to residents of the Old Pueblo in Tucson. The store took off, and Sing was able to open up a shoe store in Nogales, Arizona as well. This business also thrived, and he decided to relocate to Sonora in 1889, marrying a Mexican woman and becoming a Mexican citizen himself.

Singh would have been accustomed to freely crossing any of the Arizona ports but faced additional questioning about his merchant status at a routine crossing in 1884. At this point, he owned three additional stores in Sonoran cities and had been a Mexican resident for 11 years. A well-known businessman, he recruited the support of Santa Ana’s municipal president along with several witnesses who filed letters and certificates of good standing on his behalf, which verified his right to free and unmolested entrance through the Nogales port. With the supporting documents emphasizing Sing’s long record of settlement, he was able to cross without further questioning for the next four years.

The protective category of Mexican citizen merchant negotiated by Chinese border crossers into the US would prove useful for Chinese-Sonorans later facing exclusion and ultimately expulsion in 1931 at the hands of the Sonoran government. In April 1916, a group of 33 retail merchandise vendors from the Nogales, Sonora municipal market submitted a request to the president of the ayuntamiento regarding three stalls in the marketplace. “We ask and beg that, inspired by the feelings of national co-existence, please determine what you deem appropriate to the effect that the Chinese who occupy the market stalls we have enumerated are transferred to Mexicans.”

They attached to their petition a memorandum from the commercial and businessmen’s junta in Magdalena. “The protection of national industry,” they wrote, “served as the foundation of progress and aggrandizement of all nations and remained among the supreme ideals of revolutionary constitutionalism.” In place of Chinese owners, the petitioners posited that the market stalls could be occupied by three or four Mexicans who support however many other families. On May 3, the ayuntamento served Chill Chong, Rafael Dan, and Manuel Long with orders to vacate their meat and produce stalls at the public market. The city council had determined that the eviction order would indeed suit public interest.

And perhaps to the surprise of the ayuntamento, the aggrieved Nogalenses knew of one avenue for redress. All three men were naturalized Mexican citizens, and as Mexican nationals, they were all entitled to recurso de amparo, an autonomous suit used to protect individuals from constitutional violations by any act of public authority. Originating in the Yucatec Constitution of 1841 and enshrined in the acta de reforma of 1857, the amparo became a widely used legal tradition available to all kinds of litigants and continues to serve as the basis of human rights law in Mexico. Chong, Dan, and Long, all filed amparo suits in the Nogales District Court against the ayuntamento of the villa of Nogales the next day.

Federal rules of civil procedure required that the authority accused in an amparo suit file a reply brief within 24 hours. The public prosecutor did not file briefs contesting the petitioner’s allegations in either case. And as a result, district court judge, Astolfo Cardenas, who would later serve in roles as Nogales’s municipal president and the president of the compañía construccíon de Sonora, the Sonoran construction company, vacated the eviction order for all three petitioners on May 6. While this was the desired outcome, the procedural victory obfuscated a real sense that justice had been served.

By failing to file its reply, the ayuntamiento implicitly acknowledged that it had no legitimate or lawful reason to close businesses owned by Chinese residents. In choosing to suit the public interest, the city council effectively excluded Chinese-Nogalenses from the urban public. So when Rafael then arrived at the [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH], the state capital, on May 8, 1916, he attempted to position Chinese-Mexicans as integral to the urban public. Representing himself and acting as [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] for Chill Chong and Manuel Lang, he filed a grievance at the state Supreme Court detailing the events surrounding Nogales’s first exclusionary order.

“For many years, Chill Chong and I have each run our own butcher shops in the municipal market in the villa de Nogales, and Manuel Lang has run a produce stall having always paid with punctuality the diverse taxes levied on those commercial branches, complying with all sorts of administrative and police dispositions and gaining the geniality of the public for our good faith and consistency. Nevertheless, the presidente municipal of de villa has ordered closed all those establishments or business enterprises located in the aforementioned market belonging to Chinese subjects without a reasonable motive, justifying such disposition.”

What is most interesting to me about this early amparo petition is that it makes the same sort of claims border crossers made before US border officials. It offers evidence of settlement and belonging to Nogales vecinal, the local citizenry, and emphasizes their status as merchant citizens. I have yet to follow the paper trail to the Hermosillo State archives, but I suspect that I will find known attorneys on a number of amparo filings by Chinese-Nogalenses who belong to mutual aid organizations in Ambos Nogales, like the Chinese Fraternal Union, and who were trained to navigate both US and Mexican legal landscapes.

I found a handful of these attorneys in the municipal archives. So I hope I find what I’m looking for. But what I can say for now is that late 19th century fronterizos lay the blueprint and established the social and legal networks that made it possible for future Nogalenses of all identities to negotiate with state administrators in the future. I also just missed a few images. So this is just when there was no physical boundary prior to 1918. This is Calle Internacional, International street. This is also probably after an order that says that all buildings have to be at least 60 feet away from the international boundary. But prior, they were literally– you could have a beer in the Arizona side or in the Mexico side and stick it out the window and be in Mexico.

And this is the sort of community that the Chinese fronterizos of the 19th century would have been looking at. It’s a really robust, commercial community. And this is just a copy of Lee Sing’s position. Yeah? Thank you.

[PAULINE WHITE MEEUSEN] Good afternoon. Thanks, everybody, for coming, to the Social Science Matrix for hosting, and BIMI for supporting this panel. So connecting to the theme of today’s panel, border crossings, I’ll be talking today about the phenomenon of bearing witness, or as one interviewee put it, bringing the border to her community in the United States. This is based on a chapter of my dissertation. How– excuse me. This chapter of my dissertation draws on a series of in-depth interviews with attorneys and legal advocates who volunteered at the US-Mexico border in select US detention centers and in central Mexico as part of short term pro bono programs.

Rather than impact litigation, which is more traditionally considered when examining law and social change, the approach that these programs took was to combat practical barriers to asserting asylum through mass representation. Attorneys and legal advocates from all over the United States, including both immigration law experts and neophytes, would volunteer for short-term programs. Some for as short as a week, on the ground, preparing asylum seekers with their applications, preparing them for credible fear interviews, monitoring the metering process, and other tasks.

I became interested in whether these short-term experiences could be transformative and whether individuals came to see themselves as allies of the refugee rights or another movement. I found that in describing their motivations for providing direct legal services in these spaces or in describing themselves as part of a social movement, many people talked about how they needed to see the impact of immigration policies for themselves and to share that knowledge with others, what some described as bearing witness.

This chapter explores the different logics of what it means for these legal actors to bear witness in these spaces, what they were bearing witness to, and with whom they shared their experience. Among the findings, I argued that direct service legal work, despite not directly creating social change, can be transformed into a social movement tactic. Here, through the process of bearing witness.

I’m building on literature on law and social movements. The majority of scholarship on lawyer’s role in social movements focuses on lawyers impact historically deradicalizing on social movements rather than attorneys as social movement actors. In instances where attorneys are viewed as social movement actors themselves, lawyer activism has been viewed as an anomaly, specifically in response to Trumpism. However, the actions described in this research began earlier under the Trump administration– Oh, I’m sorry. Under the Obama administration.

Most scholarship on the legal profession also separates cause lawyers, those would be attorneys who work at organizations like the ACLU and are specifically working for those organizations to create social change, from people who are providing pro bono legal service, like the individuals in this study. The literature on the legal profession also de-emphasizes the potential to create social change through pro bono work. Building off Boutcher, this paper contends that the division between cause lawyers and pro bono attorneys is likely artificial and that the direct service legal work, despite not directly creating social change, can be transformed into a social movement tactic. Here, through the process of bearing witness.

The phrase “bearing witness” appears in literature across many disciplines, particularly in scholarship focused on trauma and memory with a particular emphasis on scholarship on the Holocaust. The term moves beyond the notion of being an eyewitness, seeing an event unfold, and includes an element of ethics and morality, of taking some sort of action to broaden the sphere of felt responsibility. Bearing witness inherently requires two parties, the individual that observes or experiences and the individual that receives that transmission of moral obligation.

There’s controversy around the idea of bearing witness, particularly for those who are not survivors, because of the disparities of privilege between the person observing and the observed. However, rather than, quote, “a cathartic, consumerist, feel-good moment,” end quote, some scholars argue that bearing witness acts as a corrective to the current mode of pornographic viewing of often racialized and imperial violence and suffering, because it moves beyond simply recognizing that another person is suffering and instead involves addressing and responding.

Most of the individuals in this study describe their motivation to go to these spaces to provide assistance, specifically legal assistance. And it wasn’t until they returned back from their experience that they then talked about the need to share their experience with others. There were, however, others who specifically went into these spaces with the desire to bear witness. Several individuals, particularly white allies, described how they didn’t want to be a white savior and also described grappling with the reality of their privilege upon returning home to their home community.

I’m drawing on 68 semi-structured interviews with 36 volunteer attorneys and legal advocates that were identified through niche and snowball sampling. I conducted 36 initial interviews between October 2019 and April 1, 2020 when the programs were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the use of Title 42 at the border. I then conducted 32 follow-up interviews between January 2021 and March 2021 to see whether individuals consciousness had shifted given that there were no longer opportunities for them to volunteer in person. And I’m planning to conduct a second round of follow-up interviews later this spring or summer.

The participants, as I mentioned, were individuals who provided legal assistance to asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border in central Mexico or at select detention centers between 2014 and 2021. Those 2021 participants are individuals who were already volunteering but then might have continued doing remote work during the pandemic. 24 attorneys were interviewed, including nine practicing or retired immigration attorneys.

I was particularly interested in the experiences of non-immigration attorneys because I wanted to know what drew them to doing this work. And then 12 legal advocates, meaning individuals who might have been doing the same kind of work in these spaces or assisting in other ways as translators, psychologists, et cetera, but often they ended up doing the same tasks as both lawyers and law students. I specifically did not include law students because their motivations, I thought, might be different.

So based on the data, I developed a typology of what bearing witness means in this context. Bearing witness works as a social movement tactic to raise awareness and shift the perspective of US citizens in order to create policy change, to recruit additional volunteers to participate in this work and to memorialize– to create a history and knowledge for the future to try to ensure that history does not repeat itself. It also functions as an ethical response to the US failure to fulfill its legal obligations under domestic and international law and as an ontological intervention in the face of the limits of facts and truth in an era of misinformation.

Individuals describe bearing witness to personal experiences of– to the personal experiences of asylum seekers, the human impact of border policies, and Truth, with a capital T. They were bearing witness to their personal networks, professional colleagues, policymakers, and the general public.

Laura, a white non-immigration attorney who volunteered at the border, described how she was using the knowledge she gained bearing witness to recruit others to the movement. “I wanted, I guess, two things. I wanted people to know the bearing witness piece. I wanted people to know what I had seen, not so much what I had done, but what I had seen. And I wanted to reassure people kind of normalize this, in case there was anybody else who wanted to volunteer.

I wanted them to think of themselves then as maybe somebody who could do this, so that long-term we have enough people who are more aware, better informed, more viscerally connected to this issue, that we may be able to demand the changes to the immigration system that should have been made a long time ago.”

Bearing witness also served as an ethical intervention in the face of US failure to fulfill legal obligations. Some individuals drew from their ethical obligations as legal professionals, others from a personal sense of obligation that was part and parcel of their personal identity. Sandra, a Latina non-immigration attorney who volunteered at the border and in detention, described, “If I wasn’t a lawyer and if I was just a concerned citizen, citizen of the world, and a nurse, because my background was in nursing for a long time, I probably would see things a little different, because I wouldn’t have delved into the legal side of it.

I believe that we are breaking laws. I believe we’re breaking standards and values and just the humanitarian standards for how to treat people who are detained and asylum seekers. I believe we’re breaking asylum laws, so there’s no way that I’m not impacted by what I know as a lawyer, because I’ve read about asylum laws and I know why we have asylum laws in place. I understand the Flores agreement and why we’re not going to be detaining, shouldn’t be detaining children long-term, and how so many of these agreements and rulings have been violated.”

The importance of seeing something firsthand and speaking truth to power have been particularly important in the US in the last several years because of, quote, “deep and strident polarization, mistrust of government officials, and a persistent effort to delegitimize sources of factual information and establish a post-truth political culture,” end quote. Interviewees indicated that they believed that the media, whether from the Right or the Left, was not fully capturing the realities of what asylum seekers were experiencing, whether in caravans to the US border, while in detention, or while waiting in Mexico for their asylum cases to be heard.

Joy, a mixed race immigration attorney who volunteered in Central Mexico and at the US-Mexico border, described how media reports were insufficient. “I’m very committed and very dedicated to spreading the word about what’s going on because– what I told the kids in DC, the undergrads, and I tell everybody, I’m like, ‘What, you think what’s happening at the border? It’s worse.’ And they’re like, ‘How can it be worse? We’re informed. We read the papers.’ I’m like, ‘No, it’s worse.’ The media doesn’t report it, and there’s no way that they could know how truly unlawful, irregular, and inhumane everything is that’s happening.

I think it also honors the struggle of the people that are doing it because I memorialize it for myself, and then I share it to other people and try to humanize it as well. That these are people. These are families. There was one boy. It was his birthday. He was in the caravan and living on the ground on his birthday. It was his 20th birthday. And really just to counteract, act as a counter-voice of truth when so much misinformation, especially around the caravan, this was when Trump was saying– what was he saying? Invading hordes of people and Islamic terrorists are embedded in this group, and it was so far from the truth, and really just to speak the truth in this age where misinformation is so prevalent.

In describing what they were bearing witness to, many individuals describe the specific traumatic experiences of asylum seekers, whether the persecution they experienced that brought them to the US border, abuses at the hand of border officials, or the many atrocities they experienced while waiting at the US-Mexico border for their number to be called. I’m not including any of those here, in case they’re triggering. Sandra, a Latina non-immigration attorney who volunteered at the border and in detention, described, “Many of the women that I worked with in X detention center and many of the asylum seekers in Tijuana actually would say, ‘Do people in your country know what they’re doing to us?’ Many of them would say, ‘Don’t forget me. Don’t forget. Tell people what they’re doing.’

And so I find it both to be a duty and really an honor, at the same time, to be able to tell their stories and not allow their stories to die off, because people need to know the truth of what’s happening. And so it’s just– to me, it’s critically important to keep their stories alive.”

In describing who they are bearing witness to, Patricia, a white non-attorney who had volunteered multiple times in different detention centers described her action.” “I feel like I’m bringing the border to my community sharing different presentations I’ve given on my campus or here locally in the community, or like I mentioned before, a couple of conferences that I’ve gone to to share my experience. One of my faculty friends invited me to a church group because their church is a sanctuary church for refugees or something like that, and she wanted me to come and talk to their reading group. Little things like that.

You go and talk to people who want to know more, but they also don’t know. It’s overwhelming. I’ve hardly even began to learn when there’s so much. And so much changes, and the flood of information when you don’t know exactly. So going to talk to little groups here and there or even to my students or a club on campus. Those sorts of things are ways that I can bring the border to my community.” And I’ll end there. Thank you.

[ADRIANA RAMIREZ] Good afternoon, everyone. Today, I will be presenting an article manuscript titled Belonging as Acquired Code-Switching: The Experience of Young Returned Migrants in Oaxaca, Mexico. While the general public may assume that very few Mexican immigrants leave the US, the reality is that between 2005 and 2014, more Mexican nationals left the US and returned to Mexico, while fewer entered the US. Similarly, or related, in the last eight years, there has also been a 23% decline in the undocumented population from Mexico.

These people that are returning are not returning alone often. They’re part of families, and often also take their children with them. Some of them were born here in the US. Others were brought to the US when they were very young. And so this issue of return migration is especially critical when we consider that in 2010, there was an increase in the foreign population in Mexico of which 77% were born in the US. Children were an estimated 22% of foreign-born individuals living in Mexico between the ages of 5 and 14. The statistic does not include all of the Mexican-born youth that were raised in the US and that went back to Mexico.

So now Mexico, which is a traditionally migrant-sending state, is faced with the challenge of incorporating returned migrant children and young adults into their schools, economy, and national imagined community. In Mexico, with the arrival of mixed status families, the census now includes– and their definition of return migrants, individuals five years of age or older who were born in Mexico or abroad to Mexican parents. In this study, I define return migration as a process by which people migrate to their or their parents’ place of origin after residing in another country.

Yet critically, young people born in the US, obviously, are not returning to a place that they’ve never been to before. And also Mexican-born youth that left Mexico at a very young age don’t have a deep connection with the country that they’re returning to. So it is this contradiction in return migration that raises the question of belonging and membership negotiation.

So in this study, I ask, how do young return migrants settle in Mexico and negotiate membership in their communities? In order to answer this, I traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico. I can talk more about why I chose Oaxaca in the Q&A, if you would like to know. So I arrived in Oaxaca during the summers of 2015 and 2018, and I recruited young returnees using snowball sampling through conversations with various institutions that worked with migrants or with youth in general and also tour guides, Spanish instructors, vendors at various markets, basically anyone I came across.

I conducted a total of 39 semi-structured in-depth interviews. Return migrants were between the ages of 13 and 32 at the time of the interview. 24 of the 39 were Mexican-born, of which 12 were male and 12 were female. 15 of the 39 were US-born, of which nine were male and six were female. And so I found that upon arrival, young returned migrants go through a process of initial adjustment where they acquire Mexican citizenships, in this case, I included both legal and cultural, and learn to hide their US ties at the same time. This process occurs regardless of their age of return or the age at the time of the interview.

As young returnees enter adolescence or they return as adolescents, they learn to highlight their US citizenships when looking for better economic opportunities. However, it is not until young returnees enter or arrive into young adulthood that they fully grasp and discover the spaces and moments when highlighting their US citizenships for better economic opportunities is more advantageous. It is at this life stage, young adulthood, that returned migrants fully grasp this code-switching between hiding and highlighting their US citizenships, either for social belonging or for better economic opportunities.

Regardless of their age of arrival, young returnees had to acquire markers of Mexican cultural citizenship. The main markers that young returnees emphasized learning over time where language, accent, clothing, food, and gender roles. For example, Julian, who sat across from me at a coffee shop, began telling me about his painful experience adapting after a forced and abrupt return. He was deported after being offered full funding to a very prestigious art university. He was on his way to visit friends before starting his semester at this university when he was detained and deported at the US airport.

This forced an abrupt return was very challenging for him, and so he explained the transformation he had to go through over time, not just in Mexico, but more specifically, in his neighborhood in order to be recognized as part of his community and stop being mugged by those around him.

He said, “I learned what it meant to be a Mexican now, like a gun, things like that, bit by bit. I learned to listen to music from here. Uh-huh, like, I had to– I had to access my masculinity, no? Like I couldn’t be weak, or I don’t know, like, delicate. Like, I couldn’t see like that in the existing environment, and it was difficult to understand and things like that. For example, like, I couldn’t talk about art, no? And things like that. And you had to talk about new things, so I had to talk about soccer and the way I dress a bit, not much. But I did cut my hair. And at that point, I had to speak a bit differently, you know? I could not speak, like, I don’t know, my accent was weird, no? And they also don’t like that, like, the people. So I had to change my Spanish completely.”

People who have lived in Oaxaca their entire life could be assaulted in the streets, right? But to Julian, this incident signal that he was not performing the appropriate signifiers to legitimize his belonging. Like most of the respondents in the study, he mentioned adjusting his accent when speaking Spanish. However, he also illustrated that there was a very specific form of masculinity, that is, short hair, knowing about football, or soccer, being tough, that he had to embody in this new context which he did by cutting his long hair, not speaking about art, in order to belong in his new community. After making these adjustments, Julian mentioned that he was accepted into his new community and eventually became friends with those that used to mugged him.

While the masculinity men were expected to present was similar in rural and urban areas, this was not the case for young girls and women who were expected to present an even more particular form of femininity in more rural Zapotec towns where clothing was a significant part. When I visited the school in this specific town, I had the pleasure of meeting some of the moms that volunteered at the school, either selling food or monitoring the entrances to the schools. They were all wearing A-line skirts falling just above their knees– sorry, just above their ankles, pañoletas, which are some sort of handkerchiefs tied around their head, and colorful shirts with embroidered flowers or lace in the front.

Dulce was a student in this school where the moms volunteered. She was born in the US and brought to a small town in Oaxaca when she was nine years old. She told me about how girls in her community excluded her because she did not wear the traditional clothes of her town outside of school. Dulce said, “Sometimes they tell me, ‘Why don’t you wear your enredo?’ Or they tell me, ‘You’re not Mexican. That is why you don’t wear it.” They tell me, ‘You’re are a gringa.’ And I always tell them, ‘Well, no, it is simply because I don’t like wearing the dress. I don’t like it. I don’t feel comfortable.'”

Dulce’s belonging to the community not only depended on the national image of Mexico, but also the local image in community where wearing traditional clothes was an important part for her belonging. And so youth or young adults that lived in these smaller communities, not only had to navigate the national image, but also learn a specific language, like Zapotec or learn more specific markers, for them to belong in addition to the national ones. So as young returnees begin acquiring Mexican citizenships, they continue to be treated differently during social movements where their US ties are disclosed. In response to this, they learn to hide their US legal and/or cultural citizenships whenever possible.

So US respondents learn to hide their US legal citizenship soon after arriving in Oaxaca. For those that are born in the US, one way of avoiding disclosing their US ties was to avoid disclosing their place of birth or simply lying about it. This was the case for Nadia, who was born in the US, brought to Oaxaca at the age of four. During the time of the interview, she was 13 years old. We were sitting in the sidewalk of her middle school as she told me about the times that she hid her US legal citizenship to maintain a sense of belonging and moments where this was at play or at risk.

She said, “Well, when, for example, the teachers, even though I don’t want to say at first so I don’t seem a bit, like, stuck up or something like that, they ask, ‘Where were you born?’ And well, sometimes I say that I was born in Mexico so that it is not so uncomfortable.” Nadia began school in her hometown like most of her classmates that never left Mexico.

However, one main marker that differentiated her was being born in the US, something that she learned could make others uncomfortable and treat her differently or make her feel like she did not belong. Instead of always answering she was born in the US, what to most people would seem like a very simple question, right? She instead considered her options and ultimately decided to lie about her place of birth to avoid any contestation to her belonging.

Young migrants who returned to Oaxaca at an older age and who may not have US legal citizenship learn to hide their US cultural markers by intentionally getting the wrong answers in their English classes, faking a bad accent when speaking English, failing an English class, or for some, switching schools completely where no one was aware of their time in the US.

This was the case for Zoe, who was often discriminated in her middle school by both teachers and her peers. And because of this discrimination, she chose to go to a completely different high school where most of her peers were not going to go because this was considered one of the worst high schools in her town.

And so she explained to me that transition to high school. She said, “In high school, no one knew I spoke English. I went to the worst high school. There were English classes. I did not speak English. Yes, they gave me an 8–” which is equivalent to good in the US. Like a B, maybe B-minus. “–because I did not pronounce it correctly, and I, I like that more. I did not care as long as they did not bother me.” Although she had been a top student in the US, Zoe had such a difficult time with bullying from classmates and teachers in Oaxaca that she became indifferent to attending the worst high school in her town, as long as that meant being accepted by those around her.

Zoe preferred hiding her US cultural citizenship by purposely failing to respond in English or avoid calling attention to herself. While not all responders went to that length of switching schools, they definitely did hide their US cultural ties by avoiding disclosing this part of themselves whenever possible in social interactions specifically in order to prevent contestation. As young return migrants enter adolescence or return during adolescence, they begin to identify moments when highlighting their US culture– their US ties to be beneficial.

For US-born respondents, who returned before or during elementary school, they begin to see how this is advantageous, how highlighting their US legal citizenship as a birthright and an exit plan for Mexico is advantageous for them. Such was the case for Robert, a middle school student at the time of the interview who had his flight booked and ready to return to the US. When I asked him why he was going to the US, he said, “Because let’s say that here schools are not improving, and well, my mom says I was born over there. So I have to study there. So I felt that there are more opportunities over there, more opportunities than here.”

In his mind there was a clear social hierarchy where US hegemony was symbolized by education, and he understood this education as a birthright. Among US-born respondents, there was a common moral understanding of the US legal citizenship, a feeling that they should somehow contribute or make use of the privilege that that studies entails. Oops, sorry.

For young returnees that were not born in the US, when they enter adolescence, they begin identifying spaces where this strategic code-switching can help them. But it is when they enter young adulthood that they fully understand this, specifically looking for better opportunities through tourism or English schools. This was the case for Victoria. Victoria was seven years old when she migrated to the US with her parents. We met at a coffee shop during her lunch break from teaching at a private English school, a job she landed before graduating college. This was, in part, possible because of her proximity to English language culture, as she explained.

“When someone gets here, it is like, oh, it’s English. Like it makes you look superior. Maybe they do it unconsciously simply for having extra knowledge. Having a teacher that learned English at a university and maybe hasn’t left Mexico, yes, that student does prefer having someone who has had direct contact with the language and with the people that speak it as opposed to having only learned it from school. So yes, that did help me.”

Many young return migrants who lived in the US long enough easily found employment as English tutors or teachers upon their arrival in Mexico. And as Victoria mentioned, employers valued the time they were socialized in the US, not necessarily the fact that they spoke English on its own. This is what was seen, because if not, they would be valuing other students from Oaxaca that were also studying to be English teachers and know how to speak English. Thus, while return migrants highlight their Mexican or Oaxacan citizenship when negotiating membership or belonging, when looking for opportunities, they code-switch to highlight their US cultural citizenship.

Based on 39 in-depth interviews with young return migrants, I argue that Mexican-US dual citizenship both in legal and cultural sense is significant in Mexico and that it operates as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, providing opportunities for advancement, but on the other hand, impeding cultural belonging. Young return migrants learn to navigate this contradiction by first acquiring Mexican legal papers, Mexican cultural markers, gender roles, and Zapotec practices in some cases. And at the same time, learning to hide their US ties to facilitate social belonging and subsequently learning to code-switch between hiding and highlighting their US ties in order to claim social belonging or better opportunities. Thank you.

[IRENE BLOEMRAAD] All right, we’re going to move into the question and answer period. We had about 20 people online, and so we’ll collect questions there. But let’s start with those in the room first, because you guys came here. Questions, comments, feedback for our presenters. And do you also want to introduce yourself?

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] Sure, I’m Cybelle Fox in sociology. So I have a question, first, for Pauline. In terms of bearing witness, is there anything about kind of the characteristics of the people who are bearing witness that changes what bearing witness means for them? So does race or gender or age of the folks that you were interviewing or whether they were attorneys or non-attorneys, does that change kind of their predominant kind of sense of what it means to bear witness? Did they fall in one or more of the particular categories, for example?

And then for Adriana, it seems like code-switching is something that is like an end-stage process. And I saw the case of Robert that you had at the end. It wasn’t clear to me who is he highlighting his US citizenship to, except for you the interviewer. In the snippet that you gave us, it wasn’t clear what was happening. So I’m wondering if it’s actually an end-stage process that only happens in adulthood and only for those who end up remaining in Mexico and not for those who return to the United States.

[PAULINE WHITE MEEUSEN] Thank you for the question. So bearing witness kind of traversed across these different characteristics. I think the motivation for bearing witness came from a different place for different folks. There were a few people who talked about their religious background, but that wasn’t– there were others who specifically said, like, I am not a religious person, but this is something that I feel that I need to do. And so when I kind of pushed on that a little bit to see where is this coming from, that was more like something where it might be coming from there.

Sort of it’s part and parcel to their personal identity. It might have been their family experience, the way that they were raised to kind of give back to their community. I think there was a little bit of difference in terms of race, in terms of how people perceive themselves in bearing witness just in the sense of– I would say it was only Latina individuals, most of these were women attorneys and legal advocates, there were only a few men who talked about being– that people had actually said to share their stories. That was not something that I heard from white women, that they were actually being told to share the stories. Instead, it was that they felt that was something that they needed to do.

So there was a difference there, less in terms of– like, more in terms of motivation, whether it was coming from themselves or from asylum seekers. Across, in terms of professional identity, interestingly, both attorneys and non-attorneys talked about the law. In fact, I was looking at an interview yesterday, and they said something like, I’m not the immigration scholar to talk about this. And then I was looking, and it was somebody who wasn’t an attorney. So I think that it was something that went across, whether somebody was an attorney or not.

But their legal background I think constrain them a bit in the sense that when I would question whether they viewed the system as legitimate, they would say that the immigration– that our legal system, our immigration legal system is legitimate, but that these policies were not legitimate. And I think that is, in part, because you’re talking to people who are essentially constrained to work within the system based on their profession.

[ADRIANA RAMIREZ] OK. Thank you for your question, Cybelle. Yes, I think– I think the process of code-switching begins in adolescence in the sense that they’re learning when to hide it but also some moments when it is useful to highlight it. Sometimes this can happen in the English classes. In the case of Robert, for those that are planning on returning to the US, they have to, I guess, disclose it in the sense that they have to tell the school administrators and teachers that they’re going to leave.

But you are right in that the code-switching would be the end-stage of the process, right? When they fully enter young adulthood, that they begin to more appropriately code-switch depending on what they’re looking to accomplish, whether that’s gaining some sense of belonging or whether they’re at a job interview and they’re trying to highlight that they grew up here in the US. So I think it begins, but the full process is definitely in young adulthood.

[IRENE BLOEMRAAD] Online questions. We’ll just go ahead and read that from anonymous attendee. Thank you, anonymous attendee. What are the primary reasons the younger attorneys mask their American past? Is it just to be more accepted? Or is it about safety, bias, or other concerns? Is there any element of pride about having lived in the US or curiosity from others to hear their stories?

[ADRIANA RAMIREZ] Yeah. Thank you, anonymous. The motivation for hiding, at least in these interviews that I did, was mostly based on being made to feel like another. So returnees were being– they were being made, felt like they were not part of the community in the sense that– like in one of the examples, they were called gringa, which is essentially someone from the US. Others mentioned teachers asking them to just be quiet, or sometimes they’re asked to leave the classroom. So that’s one way of being felt like you’re not part of the community.

In terms of the curiosity of someone felt pride, it’s not that I didn’t hear that they didn’t feel pride about being part of the US or having lived here. Some of them did mention that they continued to celebrate Thanksgiving and 4th of July when they’re in Mexico. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they want to show that to everyone they encounter. So they learn to identify who they can disclose this to.

In terms of the curiosity, I’ve actually heard that more this time around in my dissertation research where some students are curious, and they ask for help, and teachers begin to rely on these students for help in the English classes. And that’s a way for them to begin to incorporate as well. Hope that answered your question.

[MARION FOURCADE] Very simple because you taunted us, Adriana. Why did you choose Oaxaca? And what does it do to you study to focus on Oaxaca? And then similarly, Gisselle, why did you choose Nogales? And what does it– in what way does it differ from other places in Sonora?

[GISSELLE PEREZ-LEON] Nogales? So I have family members that have crossed at the Nogales port of entry. And so growing up in cities like Mexico City and New York City, the only thing I knew about northern cities of Mexico, specifically Sonoran cities too, was these broad generalizations kind of, like, mentioned in the memo that I shared from 1926. So I was really interested in, what is it like for people who are no longer able to cross after 1918 to 1924? And how is the physical structure of the border shaping both its civic engagement among residents and urban development at large?

[ADRIANA RAMIREZ] So I chose Oaxaca for two main reasons. The first one was that most of the return migration literature looks at either northern states of Mexico or Mexico City. So more urban, largely urban areas. And so I think Oaxaca is a perfect place to highlight that diversity within Mexico, and how a different context can potentially create different situations and experiences for people that are returning there. And then the second reason is that Oaxaca is the state with the highest percentage of returnees in rural areas. So while some literature has shown us that in Mexico City there’s a lot of returnees that maybe work at call centers, we know less about what is happening in smaller towns. And so that’s why I chose Oaxaca.

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] Hi, Adriana. Great question. Did Nadia explain why she would be perceived as stuck up, if she would disclose that she is a US citizen? And if she didn’t, do you have an idea?

[ADRIANA RAMIREZ] She didn’t fully disclose why, and this is something that is also coming up a lot more in my dissertation interviews where people say they don’t want to seem presumido or presumida, like, stuck up. And I think that has to do with the power relationship between the US and Mexico, right? If they were coming from maybe Chile or another country that doesn’t carry the same power relationship with Mexico, I think it might be a little different, right?

And showing that you lived in the US in a blunt way, at least from the people that I interviewed, didn’t seem to come across in a positive way to people that were from that community, right? Especially in Oaxaca where, well, maybe even all of Mexico where there’s a lot of regional pride in the culture that they have there. I think that also creates some tension.

[GISSELLE PEREZ-LEON] What makes the Nogales port of entry different from other areas? In contrast to El Paso-Juárez, it’s a land border. It’s also less than an hour south of the Salazar Reservation, which has its own San Gabriel border too. It’s the largest port of entry in Arizona, has the most pedestrian crossings in Arizona, but it is the third most frequented border to Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez. So that gives me a nice opportunity just to see migratory networks from Guaymas in the Central Valley of Sonora through the Yucca Valley region. So those are the more practical reasons as well, yeah.

[IRENE BLOEMRAAD] Let’s go to Isaac, and then we have a few questions online.

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] Thank you. Yeah, thank you for this presentation. This is wonderful. My name’s Isaac. I’m in the sociology department, and I have another set of questions for Gisselle and Adriana. So I think, for Adriana, I’d love to hear a little bit more about the relationship between cultural citizenship and legal citizenship. I couldn’t tell within the presentation how these– do they work in parallel? Or are there ways in which they work against each other? It seemed like perhaps cultural citizenship may have been more important than the day lived experience. I wonder if you could elaborate a little bit on that.

And then, for Giselle, I’m curious about that you said that a major preoccupation for the town of Nogales was the problem of the border. That it was always a problem in some way or another. I’m curious about, like, if you could talk a little bit more about specifically what the problem was and how it changed over that time period, like, over the close to 100 years that you were looking at. So yeah, thank you.

[IRENE BLOEMRAAD] And quickly insert a question for Pauline because I’m looking at the time, and so we might just have time to go through the panel once more. Pauline, I wanted to know more about the person who saw bearing witness as almost a social movement tactic to increase volunteering. Did that actually work? I would have thought that maybe the reaction would have been, oh, my gosh, this sounds so horrendous, and it would actually not be a recruiting tactic. Why don’t we go this way down the line?

[GISSELLE PEREZ-LEON] So in terms of the problem, it doesn’t become a problem until there’s a physical boundary, and after the Mexican Revolution too, when revolutionary violence along the border heightened sort of political tensions in the area. The main problem I would say– so I look at it from an urban studies perspective. One of them is ordering public space, and sort of this idea of clean streets are what Mexico should be showing to its northern neighbor. So public plazas that are free of urban dwellers that are unhoused or are seen as transient is a huge problem for the municipality.

The second is that the municipal treasuries are in debt and see border crossers and migrants as potential financial burdens to the city. So yeah, and I think that explains a lot of the 1964 investments in the physical structure of the border. So that first picture that you saw is the postcard. So much money is invested in– Mario Pani, who’s a modernist Mexican architect, he’s contracted, never sets foot in Nogales prior to the project. But it’s a big show basically. Yeah, I hope that answers.

[PAULINE WHITE MEEUSEN] So just in answering your question about the idea of recruitment. I think that while there was kind of it could cut both ways, but most of what I was seeing was that it was more likely to recruit individuals because people felt like they would feel more safe. This was particularly for people who were not coming from border regions in the United States. They might have lived in the midwest or something like that, and so were not so familiar with these areas. And so it also– so like, that they could do it. That you can do this. I did this. You’ll be fine.

But also I think when you’re talking about attorney networks, it was also about sort of, like, that these are the stakes of what’s going on. And so it’s really important. And you don’t have to be an immigration attorney. I’m not an immigration attorney. I do insurance law, I mean, for example. So you don’t need to know about this. They’ll train you how to do this, and this is an urgent request. And because you are an attorney, they’re like, you can do this. So that’s kind of a sense of thing.

[ADRIANA RAMIREZ] All right, so thank you, Isaac, for your question. So you ask what the relationship between legal and cultural citizenship is or was. I approached this project assuming cultural citizenship would be the most important part, when on the ground, right? That’s what you would expect. You wouldn’t expect the legal one to really play that big of a role. And then what I presented today, I didn’t present on everything that the young return migrants are acquiring. Part of that is for the US-born Mexican legal citizenship, which some might assume to be a straightforward process, because if their parents were born in Mexico, then by law, they should have double citizenship. But on the ground, it turns out to be a much more complicated process.

And so it turns out that legal citizenship also is important in the sense that some of them are– some US-born are living in Oaxaca, quote unquote, “illegally” in the sense that they’ve been there more than the six months that are allowed by law. But there’s some loopholes that the administrators find to enroll the students in school, and it doesn’t seem to be much of a problem until they reach the transition to high school. And at that point, they really do need that double citizenship in order to obtain the equivalent to a Social Security number that then allows them to exist as a person legally in the school, or else all the work that they’re doing is not really counting for anything.

So it matters in that way, but it also matters in what I talked about today in that legal citizenship is directly tied to place of birth. And so that also becomes– that also becomes a way of working with cultural citizenship, right? Where you asked if they are working against each other or in unison. I think at certain parts, they’re working in unison, right? When they can both align and not show anything that might have them be questioned. But they might work against each other in moments where maybe they’re lacking one or the other, right? That’s a good question. I need to think about it a little bit more.

[IRENE BLOEMRAAD] All right, I’m going to apologize for the people online who sent in their questions and assure them that we will share the questions with the panelists. Adriana, there was a question about skin tone and connection to indigeneity, but we’ll follow up with you, and another one about comparative studies. But thank you, everyone, who attended in-person. Thank you everyone who joined us in line– online. And also I’d ask everyone to thank our panelists for these truly amazing presentations and research. And I’m going to– I’m going to do Marion’s job and say, make sure you come back for the extra Matrix events, especially the Orlando Patterson week.

Affiliated Centers

Reshaping City Politics? Asian Voters’ Demands for Change in San Francisco and Vancouver

Presented by the Citrin Center for Public Opinion Research

In 2022, Asian voters shocked the political establishment in San Francisco and Vancouver. In Vancouver, frustrated voters voted out the City’s Mayor and City Council to elect the first Canadian-Chinese mayor Ken Sim and deliver his party a majority on the City Council. In San Francisco, voters supported two historic recalls of the City’s District Attorney Chesa Boudin and three members of its Board of Education. In both cities, Asian voters were a key constituency in support of these political earthquakes. What led to these historic events, and are they the start of a trend?

Presented by UC Berkeley’s Citrin Center for Public Opinion Research, this panel featured insiders from both cities, including Ken Sim’s campaign manager, a leader from Vancouver’s Canadian-Chinese community, a leader in the San Francisco school board recall campaign who was appointed to the school board herself, and scholar Neil Malhotra. The panel was moderated by Citrin Center-affiliated faculty David Broockman.


Kareem Allam, Former Campaign Director, Ken Sim for Mayor and Partner, Fairview Strategy
Ann Hsu, Former San Francisco School Board Commissioner and Founder & Head of School, Bert Hsu Academy
Lorraine Lowe 劉黛明, Executive Director, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
Neil Malhotra, Edith M. Cornell Professor of Political Economy, Stanford GSB
David Broockman, Moderator Associate Professor, UC Berkeley Travers Department of Political Science

Learn more about the Citrin Center:

Affiliated Centers

John McWhorter: Pitfalls in the Policing of Language

Presented by the Citrin Center for Public Opinion Research

Recorded on April 7, 2023, this video features a lecture by Professor John McWhorter, associate professor in the Slavic Department at Columbia University. This lecture was presented by the UC Berkeley Citrin Center for Public Opinion Research.

Professor McWhorter earned his B.A. from Rutgers, his M.A. from New York University, and his Ph.D. in linguistics from Stanford. Professor McWhorter has taught the seminar “Language in America,” a study of American linguistic history that considers Native American languages, immigrant languages, creole languages, American Sign Language, Black English and other speech varieties– their development, interactions, and preservation. He has also taught the seminar “Language Contact,” which focuses specifically on the mixture of language in North America, and studies the development of creoles, pidgins, koines, “vehicular” languages, and nonstandard dialects. Both seminars consider perceived legitimacy of languages, and the standing of language mixtures in media and education.

Professor McWhorter also teaches various other courses for the Linguistics Program and Music Humanities for the Core Curriculum program.

Professor McWhorter is an author of more than twenty books including The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language, Losing the Race: Self Sabotage in Black America and Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English. In 2016 he published Words on the Move: Why English Won’t – and Can’t – Sit Still (Like, Literally), while in 2021 he published Nine Nasty Words and Woke Racism. He also writes a weekly column for The New York Times and hosts the language podcast Lexicon Valley.


Training Bourgeois Selves: Magnus Hirschfeld and the Subsumption of Pederasty

Recorded on February 22, 2023, this video features a lecture by Professor Kadji Amin, Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Emory University.

In this talk, “Training Bourgeois Selves: Magnus Hirschfeld and the Subsumption of Pederasty,” Amin discusses a key architect of Modern Sexuality, the German Jewish homosexual sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld. Amin argues that Hirschfeld’s work allows us to track the process by which the bourgeois Western notion of sexuality as a form of innate selfhood subsumed sex as a social and spatial practice. By turning to Hirschfeld’s work, Amin’s talk argues that the fundamental problem of queer of color critique — that of how sexuality conceals and transacts more salient hierarchies of power — was born with the epistemological invention of sexuality.

The event was co-sponsored by Social Science Matrix and the UC Berkeley Department of French. Additional support was provided by the Department of Ethnic Studies and the Center for the Study of Sexual Culture. The event was organized and moderated by Professor Salar Mameni, a Matrix Faculty Fellow.

Listen to this talk as a podcast below, or Google Podcasts or Apple Podcasts.



[SALAR MAMENI] Good afternoon, everyone. Hi. My name is Salar Mameni. I’m assistant professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies. And I’m also a faculty fellow here at the Matrix for this year.

So this talk is first of a series of talks in transgender studies that are being hosted here at the Matrix. I’m very excited to have Professor Kadji Amin here with us today. I have a few people to thank before I introduce Professor Amin.

So the event today is co-sponsored by the Department of French. I’d like to thank Professor Michael Luisi for organizing this event with me. Other co-sponsors are the Department of Ethnic Studies and the Center for the Study of Sexual Cultures. I’d also like to acknowledge everyone here at Matrix who have made this event possible, in particular Eva Seto, Julia Sizek, and Marion Fourcade.

Professor Amin is associate professor in Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies at Emory University and the author of Disturbing Attachments– Genet, Modern Pederasty, and Queer History. The book was published with Duke University Press in 2017 and won an honorable mention for Best Book in LGBT Studies from the GL/Q Caucus of the MLA. For those of you who have not read Disturbing Attachments, it is a study of Jean Genet’s coalitional politics with the Black Panthers and Palestinians foregrounding outdated modes of attachment, including pederasty, racial fetishism, nostalgia for prison, and fantasies of queer terrorism.

Professor Amin is currently at work on a second book project tentatively titled Transmaterialism Without Gender Identity. He’s also the author of many articles in a number of journals, including TSQ, GLQ, Social Text, differences, and Representations. He’s the co-editor with Amber Jamilla Musser and Roy Perez of a special issue of ASAP on “Queer Form.” He also serves on the editorial board for TSQ and Gender and Women’s Studies and is the state of the field reviewer for GLQ.

His talk today is titled Training Bourgeois Selves– Magnus Hirschfeld and the Subsumption of Pederasty. Please join me in welcoming Professor Kadji Amin.

[KADJI AMIN] So first of all, thank you, Salar, and also Michael Luisi for having me over here. It’s really great to be at Berkeley in person. I was here virtually about a year ago, I think. And it’s wonderful to see so many familiar faces as well as a lot of new ones.

So I’m presenting today some new work that is in process. And I’ve condensed quite a bit into this paper. So I hope that you’ll just hold on and go along for the ride.

This talk argues that the fundamental problem of queer of color critique, that of how sexuality conceals and transacts more salient hierarchies of power was born with the epistemological invention of sexuality. I turned to a key architect of modern sexuality, German-Jewish Homosexual Sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld to track the process by which the bourgeois Western notion of sexuality as a form of innate selfhood subsumed sex as a social and spatial practice. I then turn to the sexological debate over the mujerados of the Pueblo Indians to consider how Hirschfeld’s project of subsuming non-Western and Indigenous cultural practices continues today.

But before I can continue, let me explain my use of the Marxist term “subsumption.” For Karl Marx, as capitalism expands its geography, it subsumes precapitalist labor forms such as family handicraft work and small-scale peasant farming, as well as, I would add, forms of unfree labor that become racialized under capitalism, such as slavery and indenture. Subsumption explains the heterogeneous nature of capitalism, the fact that capitalism is defined not by the universalization of wage labor but by the incorporation and sometimes transformation of precapitalist labor forms under the hegemony of capitalist accumulation.

Subsumption, therefore, presents itself as a useful term for queer of color critique, which, in Rod Ferguson’s materialist lineage has always been concerned with capitalism’s racialization of labor and of the social forms that sustain it. In The Specter of Materialism, which was just now published in 2023, Petrus Liu extends subsumption from a description of the labor and production process to an index of the social kinship, racial, and sexual arrangements that sustain these production processes.

One might say, for instance, that in the late 18th through the 20th century, the sexual arrangements that sustained bourgeois hegemony in Europe subsumed those that sustained plantation slavery, migrant indentured laborers, and Indigenous agriculture in the Americas. This is how the sexual preoccupations of the bourgeoisie during this time with eugenic marriage, the presexual and sexually vulnerable child, and those perversions of the sexual drive that threatened bourgeois marriage and property relations were able to become hegemonic, definitive of sexuality itself despite their distance from the then equally significant sexual worlds of the plantation, the prison, the streets, and the migrant laborer.

Also significant to queer of color critique is the fact that subsumption bifurcates the temporalities that coexist under capitalist hegemony. Under bourgeois sexual hegemony, the life worlds of the plantation, the prison, the streets, and the migrant laborer would be consistently deemed backward and barbaric by the reformist observers. Subsumption might, therefore, be used as an analytic of sexually heterogeneous geographies as Liu demonstrates and as one of sexually and temporally heterogenous race and class social forms.

If with regards to labor processes, subsumption means being made disposable, appearing irrelevant to the development of capitalism as Liu writes. With regards to sex, subsumption means being made irrelevant to the epistemology of sexuality itself. This is why the monstrous intimacy is, to quote Cristina Sharpe, “of the plantation the apparent anachronisms,” to quote Reg Kunzel, “of prison sex,” and the “bachelor subculture,” to quote George Chauncey, of the streets of 19th and 20th century US port cities as well as the intimate dependencies, to quote Nayan Shah, “of migrant laborers” have been so persistently difficult to square with the hegemonic epistemology of sexuality as a form of selfhood.

What all of these sexual life worlds have in common is that in them, sexuality was not primarily a form of selfhood but rather a social and spatial practice. Sex was social for it expressed properly social relations of domination, violence, solidarity, mentorship, pedagogy, and protection. Sex was spatial for it took place due to spatial concentration, incarceration, isolation, and anonymity as well as the masculinization and sexualization of urban public space.

What’s more, populations who were confined to or who circulated predominantly within these life worlds likely experienced and understood sex as social and spatial rather than as an expression of selfhood. This talk recasts the story of so-called modern sexuality as that of the subsumption of social and spatial forms of sex by a bourgeois epistemology of sexual selfhood. But what was so bourgeois about sexual selfhood? Or to ask a better question, why did sexual selfhood prove a significant thesis in the making of what Christopher Chitty has called bourgeois hegemony.

Michel Foucault provides the canonical answer. Writing of sexuality first being used to enhance and distinguish the value of the bourgeois body and later being extended in a more disciplinary fashion to the European working classes. However, as Greta LaFleur and Christopher Chitty have pointed out, sexuality first emerged in the late 18th century as an object of statistics through efforts to control prostitution, the spread of venereal disease, and sites of urban interracial and cross-class sex.

In Foucault’s terminology then, sexuality first emerged in efforts to control racialized, class, and gendered populations, not through the techniques of introspective discipline that would later be trained on bourgeois bodies themselves. To rephrase this in the terms of this talk, sexuality was first targeted in its social and spatial manifestations, not in the selves later thought to anchor it.

It was not until the late 19th century that sexologists at last began to theorize sexuality in the terms that most interest Foucault as what anchors and individuals the self while opening it to the normalizing technologies of outside experts, including psychoanalysts and sexologists. This shift, however, was predicated on an even more significant prior shift, that by which the bourgeois men learn to understand themselves as possessing unified interior selfhoods in the first place.

The sexological and psychoanalytic conception of sexuality as the core motivating secret of the individual self was accessory to the production of bourgeois interiority. A production historians have dated to the late 18th century in Western Europe and the US, why did a new conception of interior selfhood not only emerge at this time but also become so hegemonic as to render prior understandings of selfhood virtually unintelligible within a few short decades?

Post-revolutionary France offers the clearest example of both the political utility of this concept of selfhood and the speed with which it was– with which it subsumed prior conceptions of the self. Historian Jan Goldstein explains how a new model of selfhood as interior, unified, and agential emerged in post-revolutionary France and rapidly attained hegemony, eclipsing 18th century models of selfhood in the process. One such 18th century model of selfhood was that of the corporate self.

During the demonstrants of the Parlement of Paris against the 1776 royal edict abolishing guilds and trade corporations, the parlement advanced the argument that the integrity of the self was sustained by membership in a corporation. In their protest, the Paris glovemakers asserted that, quote, “each person, particulier, has an existence only through the corporate body or corps to which he is attached.” The dominant fear at the time was that selves without corporations would wander off in total enemy without moral norms or standards of craftsmanship, prey to their impressionable imaginations.

Materially, this sphere was the product of a shift to a laissez-faire economy in which individual artisans would sell their wares to strangers without a mediating corporate body to guarantee quality and trustworthiness. Soon, this economic shift would be hitched to a revolutionary overturning of the old regime and a set of experiments in Democratic governance.

Once all property-holding male citizens became eligible to vote, a means was needed for them to internalize forms of discipline that under the monarchy had been guaranteed by external bodies and hierarchical superiors. This means would be a new philosophy of selfhood as innate, internal, authentic, and unified. A self possessed of all of these qualities would be a sturdy unit of governance in a newly atomized laissez-faire Republican France.

In France, the philosopher who popularized this model of selfhood was Victor Cousin, a professor at the École Normale Superieure and the Paris Faculty of Letters, who preach the gospel of selfhood to overflowing auditoriums. He was something of a youth guru. Goldstein argues that Cousin’s project was that of repairing itself compromised by the outside in model of selfhood characteristic of impressibility in order to set a Republic bruised by a revolutionary decade onto a more stable foundation.

Cousin explicitly theorized selfhood as a model for bourgeois property ownership. John Locke is typically credited with originating the legal doctrine of possessive individualism. However, whereas Locke’s model of possession and property rights begins with the body, Cousin locates the grounds of possessive individualism in the moi itself. “Our original property is ourselves, our moi,” Cousin proposed. “Our first step to free personal thought is the first act of property.”

He went on to pose free personal thought, the characteristic activity of the self, as the basis of an expanding circle of property rights in things. Given that Cousin posed private property the quintessential mark of bourgeois status as the natural extension of selfhood, it is not surprising that he restricted the ability to perceive one’s selfhood to bourgeois men. He consistently suggested that the working classes were incapable of introspective reflection and, therefore, of empirically locating the self within them.

In Goldstein’s analysis, Cousin’s doctrine asserted a fundamental distinction between the selved and the unselved as a distinction that mapped neatly onto that between the bourgeoisie and the working classes. While Cousin himself did not seem interested in asserting racial distinctions, his devoted disciples would have had no trouble discerning where most racialized peoples, some of whom, after all, were legal property at the time fit into his selved/unselved binary.

Cousin did not just convince bourgeois youth to believe they had selves. He required them to discern and activate these selves through his psychological method. The psychological method consisted essentially of looking within, witnessing the free activity of thought, and thereby empirically verifying the existence of one’s selfhood as innate, unified, and agential.

From 1832 onward, the philosophy class of the third and last year of the French lycée system opened with Cousinian psychology positioned as the foundation of philosophy itself. Until the 1880s, the lycée system designed to train all civil servants, including teachers, admitted only bourgeois boys. Ascertaining oneself became a literal rite of passage for bourgeois boys.

To pass the dreaded baccalaureate examination, which certified them as fit for public service, students after 1832 had to pass an examination in Cousin’s philosophy. Henceforth, to become fit for public service, all bourgeois boys would have to learn to discern and activate an elite class selfhood.

Though France provides the clearest example of the class politics of selfhood and its role in sustaining bourgeois hegemony, the shift to understand– the shift to an understanding of individually anchored agential selves seems to have occurred throughout Western Europe and North America between the 18th and 19th centuries as these regions underwent interlocked transitions to bourgeois capitalist hegemony.

This set of parallel transitions suggests that newly atomized capitalist social orders in the West banked on inculcating bourgeois men with innate agential and individual selfhoods as a basis for self-governance. By the late 19th century, a bourgeoisie trained to perceive itself as possessing unique internal selves would prove fertile soil for the implantation, to use Foucault’s word, of a new model of sexuality based on inner sexual selfhood.

This new model of sexuality would have to subsume a prior and ongoing understandings of sex as ontologically social and spatial. Modern pederasty is one such social and spatial understanding of sex. It’s a plug for my book.

Unlike institutionalized pederasty in ancient Greece, an institutionalized modern pederasty was a flexible form that could accommodate greater or lesser differentials of age, age-differentiated sexual relations that continued well into adulthood, reversals of the expected power differential between elder and younger partner, and slippages in the expected correspondence between active/passive sexual roles and superordinate and subordinate social roles.

In Disturbing Attachments, I use modern pederasty as an overarching umbrella for a dominant form of male same-sex practice animated and structured by eroticized hierarchies of age, class, race, and knowledge. Modern pederasty names the practice and epistemology of sex as primarily social. It was understood to be about transactional sex, mentorship, protection, pedagogy, coercion, patronage, blackmail, and the pursuit of some social or economic advantage to a greater extent than as the expression of a unique sexual subjectivity or of a sex drive-oriented toward a particular object.

The story of the subsumption of pederasty by modern homosexuality is, therefore, the story of the subsumption of sex as ontologically social by sex as an expression of inner selfhood. The significant historical shift, I would argue, is less from sodomy to inversion than from pederasty or sex as primarily social to homosexuality or sex as the expression of an internal sexual subjectivity. Only the latter is what would come to be known as sexuality.

This new epistemology was distinctively white bourgeois and male. But it was ancillary to the innate individual agential self that white bourgeois men had only recently been trained to perceive, although some educated women and people of color would attempt to lay claim to it as well.

The Homosexuality of Men and Women published in 1914 is indicative of the intellectual labor required to subsume prior spatial and social models of sex by a new epistemology of sexuality as an expression of inner selfhood. The book was based on early data from what was to be the largest study of sexual behavior of the early 20th century. To gather this data, Hirschfeld created a 127 question-long psychobiological questionnaire that he administered to more than 10,000 people.

Hirschfeld’s questionnaire is paradigmatic of the technologies of the self, by which, in Foucault’s words, “The 19th-century homosexual became a personage, a past, a case history, and a childhood in addition to being a type of life, a life form, and a morphology with an indiscreet anatomy and possibly a mysterious physiology.” Responding to the questionnaire in full demanded an exercise in gender-sexual introspection. And throughout, I’m going to use the word gender-sexual with a dash in between them to signify that at this time, gender and sexuality were not understood as separate from one another.

So to respond to the questionnaire in full demanded an exercise in gender-sexual introspection that began with one’s ancestry; turned to one’s childhood gender-sexual development; covered one’s history of sexual experiences, desires, and fantasies; described one’s current sex to morphology in gender-sexual character; and concluded with one’s own judgment about one’s sexuality. And this is a small portion of this long survey.

Throughout leading questions encourage respondents to narrate and interpret every possible bodily characteristic and personality trait as either masculine or feminine. And therefore, depending on one’s sex, as indicative of either sexual normalcy or sexual variation. The questionnaire is so comprehensive that Hirschfeld follows its reproduction in The Homosexuality of Men and Women. And this is with the sample answers of somebody that he said was a obvious female homosexual.

So he follows it with the acknowledgment, “It may appear to many people an unfair demand to request a conscientious answering of so many questions, a task that claims many hours, even days.” He continues, “But experience has shown that many people, particularly educated ones, have found direct and deep satisfaction and relief in this manner of confronting themselves.”

Referencing one exemplary response that comprises no less than 360 pages of tightly written quatre pages and that took nearly 6 months to complete, the fact that more than 10,000 people responded to such a comprehensive and time-consuming survey may be more significant than Hirschfeld’s theory of sexuality itself. Or it gives us a sense of how far reaching Hirschfeld’s project of sexual objectification was.

The questionnaire walked respondents through a process of self-inquiry and self-reflection worded so as to ensure the discovery of gender-sexuality as the hidden principle of the self. As a technology for the discernment and discovery of sexual selfhood, the psychobiological questionnaire drew on and redirected prior technologies for the discernment and production of bourgeois interior selves, such as the journal, the memoir, and the novel as well as Cousin’s own psychological method.

And indeed, the selves Hirschfeld helped produce were distinctively bourgeois. To be capable of responding to such a detailed questionnaire, particularly in writing required education, leisure time, and a quiet solitary space. It was greatly facilitated by a prior training in introspection and self-reflection and a learned ability to discern the contours of a unique selfhood within.

Although exceptionally motivated exceptions did exist, particularly among the transvestites, such requirements would have ensured that nearly all of Hirschfeld’s respondents would be bourgeois or aristocrats. Training in sexual selfhood was anything but equitably distributed. For it built on the new forms of sexual selfhood, the new forms of selfhood characteristic of the bourgeoisie. If the aristocracy had based its class distinction on the mythos of blood, the bourgeoisie’s blood was itself before it could become its sex.

Hirschfeld’s psychobiological questionnaires were scientifically super productive. They yielded the first diagnostic distinction between homosexuals and transvestites, the seed of what would become in the mid-century United States the now canonical distinction between gender and sexuality. They also yielded two extensive taxonomies of types of biologically innate sexual being, the second, which is published in The Homosexuality of Men and Women, focuses on the categorization of homosexual men and women.

Hirschfeld attempts to account for pederastic sexual practices in the second rank of this taxonomy– orientation to distinct age groups. It is intriguing that Hirschfeld includes age as a type of orientation at all, ranking it second only to sex-based orientation. In the history of sexuality, age-differentiated male-male sexuality is often understood to be part of a circa Mediterranean pederastic model that spans Southern Europe and North Africa.

As I demonstrate in disturbing attachments, however, modern pederasty exceeds this narrow region by far. Hirschfeld’s Germany is well outside of the Mediterranean basin, not to mention the conventional early modern historical periodization of pederasty. And yet, age-differentiated sexuality is a central concern within The Homosexuality of Men and Women.

Within Germany, Hirschfeld’s theory of homosexuality as a form of biological sexual intermediacy is often contrasted with pederastic masculinists, who promoted pederasty unlike medicalized inversion as a natural extension of virile and even patriarchal masculinities. The contrast between the two camps, however, is not black and white. Hirschfeld after all was an empiricist with the ambition of creating a classification system that could account for all homosexual behavior.

As a homosexual himself, he was well acquainted with homosexual vernaculars, cultural practices, and haunts, mentioning in passing the Friedrichstrasse, where young hustlers could be found, a bar for soldiers in search for sex with men, and bars where transvestites would congregate. As evidence for the significance of age orientations, Hirschfeld references in group conversations in which, quote, “discussions of these criteria of discernment play a significant role.” For example, when they raise the question of whether or not one loves younger or older persons as it were to employ a phrase they frequently use with or without a beard. Or if they are homosexual women, whether or not they prefer older or younger women.

Age-differentiated sex simply had too well established of a presence within German homosexual culture for Hirschfeld to ignore it. But then, again, why would he have wanted to? For Hirschfeld himself was a pederast.

His life partner Karl Giese, the man you see here, was an upwardly mobile working class man 30 years Hirschfeld’s junior, who met Hirschfeld while the former was still a student. Hirschfeld met his second significant life partner who overlapped with Giza, Li Shiu Tung, who is in this image, a Chinese student 39 years his junior while on his world lecture tour in exile from a rapidly not so fine Germany. Both relationships conform to the pederastic teacher-disciple and patron-client patterns.

Hirschfeld first employed Giese in his Institute for Sexual Research then appointed him to run it upon fleeing Germany, a significant position for a man from a working class family. With the blessing of his wealthy father who hoped Tung would become the Hirschfeld of China, the latter abandoned his studies to travel and study sexology with his new mentor/lover.

Given his personal investment in pederasty and empirical attention to it, Hirschfeld’s ambition was not to supplant pederasty and replace it with homosexuality. It was to reframe pederasty within an overarching master theory of sexual selfhood. Modern pederasty, however, proves difficult to square with a theory of biologically innate age-based sexual orientation.

Hirschfeld suggests improbably that age-based orientations remain fixed across a life span. That is, that someone who is attracted to youth in their youth will remain so well into old age and likewise for each age group. This fails to account for the common incidence of attraction to those of approximately one’s own age, even as that age changes across one’s life. It also fails to account for the common pederastic pattern in which relationships with older men as a youth are followed by relationships with youths as an adult, except by discounting youth as a period of sex plasticity, in which one’s sexual orientation has not yet had the chance to fully emerge, which is an argument that he makes.

In the narrative portion, the topic of age preferences seems to slide as if by association into that of class preferences. Hirschfeld notes that within each age range, there are specifics, including the educational and social class whose significance for spontaneous attraction should not be underestimated and goes on to develop the notion that class-based attractions might be divided into loving those of the same class, of a lower class, and of a higher class than oneself, all of which he asserts are “so frequent that the introduction of examples is unnecessary.”

Clearly, Hirschfeld expected his readers to be familiar with pederastic patterns of cross-class sex. In turn, class-based attractions slide into the topic of intellectual attractions, including attractions to such persons from whom they can learn and towards people on whom they can have a pedagogical influence. However, if age as a tangible feature of the sex to biological body can be fitted with some difficulty into a theory of biologically innate sexual selfhood, class and intellectual ability cannot.

Despite repeated statements as to the importance and prevalence of class-based attractions, neither they nor pedagogical attractions make any appearance in Hirschfeld’s classification system. They dropped out entirely. Despite both his personal investment in pederasty and his efforts to subsume pederasty into age-based sexual orientation, neither pederasty nor age-based sexual orientation, with the exception of pedophilia, which we can talk about in the Q&A if you want– so neither of them would survive into the bourgeois sexual hegemony that Hirschfeld’s own sexology helped solidify.

Pederasty was conceptually, though not materially incompatible with bourgeois modernity for pederasty, carried the taint of precapitalist sexual arrangements. Pederasty emanated rather too obviously from the worlds of the feudal lord and his vassal, the master craftsman and his apprentice, and the master and his slave.

As Christopher Chitty writes, “Records indicate that sodomy across hierarchies of age and status was an inevitability in societies whose economies were structured by relations of dependence and servitude.” In such societies, it was obvious to all that while some men might have a particular predilection for it, pederasty was a product and a barometer of social and economic relations of dependence and direct domination between men as well as between men and boys.

Around the late 18th and 19th centuries, when the bourgeoisie came into power and capitalism became the hegemonic mode of accumulation in Europe and its colonies, the overt lens on power that pederasty provided grew embarrassing. “Cross-class cultures of sodomy were problematic to such Republican experiments,” Chitty writes, “because they dramatize the social hierarchy and inequality of their mixed social form.”

In a world restructuring itself, according to the enlightenment values of liberté, fraternité, and égalité yet riven by new inequalities between the bourgeoisie and the working classes as well as Europeans in their colonial subjects and plantations slave owners and their slaves, pederasty and the long tradition of critiques of domination that came with it testified all too blatantly to the gulf between enlightenment theory and its praxis.

The problem was not that pederasty as a sexual arrangement was not well suited to the new social hierarchies of bourgeois modernity. In fact, pederastic practices would continue to prove quite popular for another 150 years or so until they eventually proved incommensurable with the bids for legality and respectability of new movements for homosexual rights. The problem was that pederasty gave the lie to the theories of freedom and individual rights, on which the forms of domination inherent in bourgeois hegemony rested.

This is why any effort to make pederasty modern again would stake its claims on historically new terms. For Hirschfeld, that of a core and innate sexual individuality. And for boy lovers of the 1970s, that of the supposed liberation of the sexuality of children.

Such rationales would have rung false to earlier practitioners of pederasty. And, in fact, they failed to sway the majority of same-sex practitioners even during their own times. For however cloaked in the language of sexual liberation or innate sexual orientation, pederasty spoke too loudly of what had become inadmissible– sexual desires that were direct expressions of social structure rather than of the primacy of the bourgeois individual.

Sexual desires that were the product of racial class and age hierarchies continued to be elicited. And men and boys continued to act on them over the course of bourgeois sexual modernity. But they had been subsumed, rendered backward inexplicable and peripheral according to the sexual epistemology of bourgeois hegemony.

This sexual epistemology dictates that any sexual desire that does not emanate from one’s deep innate and uniquely individual sexual selfhood is not true but false– this was one of Hirschfeld’s divisions as well, true and false– not natural but criminal, and not modern and Western, the backward and racialized.

So I’m going to switch gears a little bit. And in the final part of this talk I turn to the sexological debate over the mujerados of the Pueblo Indians of what is now the Southwestern United States to illustrate the continuing colonial stakes of sex and gendered selfhood today.

This debate began in 1847 when William Hammond was stationed in New Mexico, where, as the assistant surgeon for the American army, he treated soldiers wounded while battling native tribes in the US quest for westward expansion. Details from Hammond’s service and settler colonial warfare would become retrospectively significant 50 years later when he made them the basis of a case study for sexual impotence in the male and female originally published in German in 1891.

In it, Hammond details physically examining and verbally questioning two mujerados from Pueblo tribes. Mujerado was a Spanish colonial neologism applied to Pueblo males who, in the view of Spanish colonials, had been transformed into women. Hammond’s account, however, is too saturated by settler colonial ideology to offer any insight into the role of mujerados in Pueblo culture.

In brief, Hammond asserts that Pueblo traditions decree the selection of a mujerado from among the most virile adult men of the tribe. This man is then made to ride constantly on horseback while being repeatedly masturbated. Eventually, he claims that this results in the atrophy of their genitals, impotence, bodily feminization, and the total transformation of their character from masculine to feminine.

The ultimate purpose of this tradition, according to Hammond, is to transform the mujerado into the passive recipient of intercourse during annual ceremonial orgies. Chiefs, he suggests, may also have sexual rights over them during the rest of the year. Hammond’s salacious account was a handmaiden of genocidal violence against native peoples.

It participates in the denigration of native religious ceremonies as savage sexual orgies, a trope used to ban and even criminalize native ceremonies. Both Hammond’s fanciful explanation for how the mujerados were rendered impotent and his initial surprise at inspecting the anatomy of one Laguna mujerado and discovering that they were not, in fact, a hermaphrodite are symptoms of a specifically medical colonial logic, one that insists that complex native social and spiritual roles originate from bodily abnormalities.

Hammond also draws on 18th century naturalist characterizations of natives as possessing small organs of generation and, in the Comte de Buffon’s words, an “indifference for sex that dooms them to extinction.” Indeed, Hammond reassures readers that the traditions of the mujerados will doubtless disappear ere long before advancing civilization, even if they have not already done so.

In a demonstration of the faulty empirical basis of much 19th and early 20th century science, Hammond’s politicized and dubious account inaugurated a sexological debate over the mujerados in Germany. Richard Von Krafft-Ebing included Hammond’s account of the mujerados in the chapter of Psychopathia Sexualis on acquired homosexuality and the degree to eviration and defemination. Yes.

So this was supposed to be an example of eviration. Thus, situated Krafft-Ebing recasts the mujerados as a warning to Europeans about the potentially drastic feminizing results of long-term acquired homosexuality. By comparison, Hirschfeld’s intervention in this debate might seem refreshingly liberal.

He dismisses as improbable the idea that the condition of the mujerados is caused by horseback riding and proposes that they are instead androgynous transvestites, a harmless natural variation. The principal purpose of Hirschfeld’s corrective, however, is to demonstrate the universal applicability of the two pillars of his sexological theory– one, his diagnostic distinction between transvestism and homosexuality and, two, his bedrock understanding that sex gender proclivities are only epistemologically true when they are rooted in someone’s innate selfhood.

These core tenets come together in Hirschfeld’s definition of transvestism as when, quote, “the core of the sexual individuality forms the need to live in the clothing, lifestyle, and occupation of the other sex.” Distinguishing homosexuality from transvestism, thus, amounted to nothing less than parsing the truth of someone’s core sexual selfhood, which in Cousinian fashion, Hirschfeld understood to be innate and unchanging.

The mujerados varied distance both geographic and temporal as implicitly uncivilized people from European norms of gender-sexuality is useful to Hirschfeld because it serves as evidence of the universality of his diagnostic category of transvestism. By categorizing the mujerados as transvestites, Hirschfeld projects the epistemological basis of transvestism, core and innate sexual selfhood, onto them.

However, as a tribal people who engage in small-scale agriculture and hunting, the Pueblo Indians lacked the key material conditions– capitalist political economy and large-scale Democratic state formations for the adoption of a Cousinian innate core selfhood. Without a basis in bourgeois selfhood, their cross-dressing could not have been the surface symptom of a core transvestite sexual selfhood.

Like other Western sexologists, Hirschfeld relied on what historian Durba Mitra has termed “the primitive exemplar” as evidence of the universality and, thus, the scientificity of his sexology. Indeed, the mujerados were one of countless primitive exemplars that are cited only to be subsumed into Hirschfeld’s universal theory of sexual selfhood.

We might understand sexual selfhood as akin to the money form. Like the money form, sexual selfhood is both abstract and fungible. It produces equivalences, commensurabilities, and measurable differences in degree but not the kind between sexualized and gendered practices emanating from otherwise incommensurable social and material conditions. In their very abstract universality and their fungibility, sexual and gendered selfhood continued to be used to produce such false equivalencies today. Indeed, progressive thinkers and activists today routinely employ the same logics as Hirschfeld without awareness of their colonial basis.

In Extermination of the Joyas– Gendercide in Spanish California, Deborah Miranda performs a speculative Indigenous reading of the genealogy of both the term joya and of contemporary to spirit identity. The term joya first appears in Spanish colonial texts from 18th century California to name native Chumash men wearing the dress of women.

Miranda traces Spanish colonizers campaign against the joyas back to 16th century conquest when they would use mastiffs and greyhounds to kill natives whom they then– whom they then understood to be sodomites. And this is a famous woodcut rendition of one such incident in contemporary Panama. In a central passage, Miranda argues that this colonial violence against joyas was not homophobia but rather gendercide.

Miranda uses the term gendercide to call attention to the genocidal intent and the culturally disorganized impact of these mass killings. In human rights discourse, gendercide describes not only the internationally recognized wrong of singling out victims on the basis of sex but also the terrorizing and genocidal effects of the elimination of an entire sex. If carried out to completion, gendercide would effectively become genocide since a culture without women, for example, would no longer be able to reproduce itself.

The term gendercide helps Miranda underline that far more than sodomy or homosexuality was at stake here. While joyas were not necessary for biological reproduction, like any sex class, they played a crucial role in social reproduction. Specifically, their gender liminality made it possible for joyas unlike ordinary women or men to perform burial rites for the dead without risking spiritual pollution. During a period of settler colonial violence, losing an entire class of people responsible for burying the dead and ensuring proper mourning rituals would have thrown native tribes into a state of crisis.

In using the term gendercide to draw our attention to the culturally and spiritually disorganizing effects of the mass killing of joyas, however, Miranda ends up leaning on the concept of gender identity, despite the fact that the complexity of the role of joyas, as she describes, it cannot be contained within that concept in order to extend the use of gendercide from a descriptor of the mass killing of men or women to one of the mass killing of gender-variant peoples, Miranda redefines gendercide as an act of violence committed against the victims’ primary gender identity.

It would be reductively secularizing, however, to recast the balance of female and male spiritual energies that characterized joyas as a gender identity. The very point of Miranda’s article is both to critique the harm and repair the splitting wrought by settler colonial epistemological and material violence on native peoples. In a visionary act of Indigenous historical speculatization, Miranda proposes that joyas survived settler colonial efforts at gendercide by going undercover, so to speak, and splitting the sexual from the spiritual aspects of their role.

In short, they either became homosexuals or took on a role as the caretakers and grave tenders, in her words, of native culture, keeping native history, traditions, and storytelling alive. Amidst the contemporary to spirit resurgence, she proposes that the time has come to undo the splitting caused by settler colonial gendercide and reunite the gendered, sexual, spiritual, and cultural aspects of the role of the joyas, which were historically torn asunder in order to survive colonial violence.

However, just as Spanish colonizers never grasped the intricacy of the joya rule, secularizing it in order to cast joyas as men in the dress of women or as heathen sodomites, just as Hirschfeld blithely cast mujerados as transvestites without any regard for the meaning of their practices, so the contemporary term gender identity cannot offer justice to the antecedents of contemporary two spirit peoples. To define joyas by their gender identities, even for the sake of naming the genocidal violence against them, is to separate the gendered aspect of their roles not only from the spiritual but also from the sexual, ripping them asunder in order to fit constricted colonial epistemologies once again.

The fault, to be clear, is far from Miranda’s alone. Some of the very best new texts in gender and sexuality studies referenced gender identities in the past and in the non-West, even as they include a judicious caveat explaining that contemporary transgender identity does not apply to them. Such caveats do not solve the problem for I submit that the aspect of contemporary transgender identity, that is the least universalizable is gender identity itself.

Until we historicize and particularize not only contemporary transgender and gay/lesbian identity but also the very notions of a core gender and sexual identity and an innate core self, we will find that we have continued Hirschfeld’s gesture of universalizing bourgeois Western sexology along with the intellectual and material histories it indexes. Ultimately, what we need is an alternative principle of trans politics and a rationale for trans existence apart from gender identity. And this is what I’ll be working towards in my book on trans materialism.

Hirschfeld’s slogan, justice through science, telegraphs his faith in rational scientific research as the basis for homosexual and transvestite rights. However, the diagnostic basis of homosexuality and transvestism, he purported to have empirically discovered innate sexual individuality was, in fact, produced by his very methods of inquiry. As I have shown, Hirschfeld’s psychobiological questionnaire trained his mostly bourgeois European respondents to discern a core innate sex individuality within them and to narrate it as the hidden motivation behind their every behavior and characteristic.

Hirschfeld’s theory of core sexual individuality was able to aspire to universality because he cannily allied it to a key principle of bourgeois hegemony, that of a core and innate self, the first and most significant property of the self-governing individual. Thus, legitimized as a peace with modern bourgeois common sense, Hirschfeld had only to match his diagnostic entities of homosexuality and transvestism to colonial reportage on the gender-sexual abnormalities of far-off peoples to make the case for their scientific universality.

In the process, Hirschfeld helped set into motion a bourgeois sexual hegemony that subsumed an enormous range of gendered and sexual practices, conditioned more by space and by social relations than by innate sexual selfhoods. It is today the Hirschfeld’s project of universal subsumption into bourgeois sexual hegemony is at last coming to fruition. The vectors are sexual orientation and gender identity, the contemporary versions of Hirschfeld’s diagnostic principles of core sexual individuality.

Sexual orientation and gender identity have become part of neoliberal hegemony institutionalized globally as scholarly analytics, medical entities, legal principles, human rights principles, and NGO-funding streams. However, they do not begin to describe how the vast majority of peoples across the globe practice and understand gender and sex. As scholars and activists, we must contend with the continuation of Hirschfeld’s project of subsumption if we are to develop an adequate response to sex and gender politics in the present. Thank you.

[SALAR MAMENI] Thank you so much for that wonderful talk. We do have time for Q&A, if you have questions.



Thank you so much for your presentation. It’s quite fascinating. I’m AJ. I’m a first year in the ethnic studies PhD. I work with the wonderful Salar Mameni here.

What struck out to me particularly was the notion of subsumption in Magnus Hirschfeld’s diagnostic practices. And I was wondering, if we’re to situate sexuality as a social and spatial process, how do we see sexual selfhood through the lens of the repressive hypothesis and broader eurocentric knowledge production, whether it be social theory, an égal libéral, or [FRENCH] or even continental literature from the Enlightenment and up to the late 20th century?

And another question I had is more of a personal one. For scholars that work with– that use queer of color critique as a framework, how do we grapple with this problematization of it? Thank you.

[KADJI AMIN] So your question was, how do we locate it– how we locate the sexual selfhood in the repressive hypothesis? Yeah, I mean, I think that– I think it’s a key part of the repressive hypothesis, the idea that what’s being repressed is something core to your self and that resistance to this repression would consist in expressing that core sexual self.

So I think that it’s quite– what I’m saying here about sexual selfhood coheres quite well with Foucault’s critique of the repressive hypothesis. I’m just trying to situate specifically its class role slightly differently than he does and also try to read it backwards a little bit into the production of innate selfhood in the bourgeoisie in general.

Because once you look at that, you start to see how much it’s tied to the question of governance, how much it’s tied to certain political forms as well as certain economic forms like the laissez-faire economy. So I’m trying to really extend his inquiry a little further there. And I think you would find a vast archive of works describing sexual selfhood as something that could be repressed, if one were to look for that.

And your second question, how is queer of color critique to contend with what exactly?

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] The problematize the notion of– or problematize queer color critique effort to take sexuality for granted without destabilizing it as a social and spatial process. How do we grapple with it while using it as a framework?

[KADJI AMIN] OK, yeah. Yeah, so it’s not specifically– I’m not specifically critiquing queer of color critique here. So, in fact, I think in Rod Ferguson’s book, he is interested in sexuality not primarily as a form of selfhood or individuality. And what I’m trying to do is tell a long story about why it is that we continue to find so many exceptions to bourgeois sexual subjectivity because I feel like queer of color critics and historians of different sexual subcultures or sexual cultures can keep producing books and articles, saying, well, actually, it’s not like that like here, among this particular group of people.

But in my view, what we need is a narrative to explain why this is the case and why this is– why we’re going to keep finding that this is the case. Because we have to denaturalize this idea of sexual selfhood and also see where it comes from specifically and whose interests it serves and what kinds of subjects it was modeled on. And so that’s the part of the puzzle that I’m trying to supply here.

And so yeah. So I do hope that this will be– that having this part of the puzzle will make it easier for scholars in queer of color critique and other fields to be able to do their work without– to essentially dispense with the question of sexual subjected as they do their work rather than, say, going into something, looking for that, and then not finding it and having to come up with an explanation for why not.

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] Thank you so much for a really generative talk. I’ve been writing about sex work and really thinking about why queers don’t care about the ongoing criminalization of sex work and how something like this, in fact, shifts politics. So I guess I have two questions. The first is, what do you see as the implications for politics? Because I think that’s really so core to what you’re doing.

Second part is I get, well, the selfhood not sexual selfhood. Like, is there a selfhood outside of a bourgeois selfhood, outside of the sexual selfhood that prefers spicy food, that prefers– Yeah.

[KADJI AMIN] Yeah, thank you. Great questions. So yeah, I feel like sex work in the history of sex work is really, really key here. And the more that I research into the history of sexuality, the more clear it is to me that sex work is the history of homosexuality. It is the history of transness, especially– or specifically of transfemininity.

And it should be core to those histories. And in some ways, transactional sex offers a far better basis of thinking about queer history and also those who are most marginalized in queer communities today than does sexual selfhood. And yeah.

So in terms of politics, I think that that’s the ultimate horizon of this work is that I really think a politics based on either sexual subjectivity, sexual selfhood, or gender selfhood is a bad one. And that’s what I was trying to say– part of what I was trying to say in the beginning is that the epistemological invention of sexuality as well as gender identity is a very bourgeois invention.

And much of my book will deal with the bourgeois invention of gender identity. But I wanted to do this piece on the side. So yeah. Because it makes commensurate a whole series of practices, of life worlds, of types of people, of material conditions that really have very little in common. And I think we have the work now of wonderful intersectional critics and Black feminists explaining some of the problems with the category of women or with just homosexuality as a single issue politics or as an identity category.

But I think we also have to think of– I don’t know. I guess on the one– so on the one hand, we have that. But on the other hand, I think we live in a culture, particularly in the contemporary United States in which selfhood is becoming– and sexual and gendered selfhood, particularly, are acquiring more and more outsized importance regardless of material conditions that subtend them.

And so I think part of this project is coming out of my question of why that is. And so one, why that is. And then two, what can be done to jostle people out of that. Because there’s absolutely nothing radical about any form of identification or selfhood.

So what I’m trying to do is to shift the ground of politics onto material practices. It’s always the material practices of queer people, of gender variant people, of trans people that have been policed and pathologized. The self, nobody cares about selfhoods.

Even the most homophobic Christian evangelicals will welcome people who understand themselves as having a gay inner selfhood as long as they’re not practicing. Likewise, nobody cares– people along with all these bills trying to keep trans people out of public space and take away resources or the ability to transition, particularly for trans youth, people will say– the same people who are promulgating such bills will say, well well, it’s fine. You can be whoever you want to be on the inside. We’re not taking away your identity at all.

And, in fact, there was a press conference with David Cameron– I don’t know, a session with David Cameron that I watched online, which was about the request for a gender identity document for those who didn’t identify as either male or female. And a large part of his discourse was saying, look, this doesn’t invalidate you at all. I respect you as people. And I respect your innate selfhood and your right to be a gender other than man or woman. I just don’t want to tie it to any other material rights.

So I think that that’s where the political focus needs to be as well as the intellectual focus, really, in thinking about these practices and what their relation has been historically to identities and the way that practices or identities have been used to disqualify certain practices. So specifically in the case of gender identity, being invented and used to gate keep who can and cannot access trans medical procedures.

The whole point of it was to say that drag queens are not trans women, that drag queen sex workers are not trans women and cannot transition. So thank you for asking that question because I think it points to the larger horizon that I’m working towards.

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] Hi. Thanks for such a wonderfully thoughtful talk. You made us side comment in your talk that I was curious if you could maybe speak to a little bit more.

You mentioned when you went over Hirschfeld’s questionnaire that you could maybe understand it as something that replaced the things like the genres like the novel or the memoirs, something, a narrative that category that’s generative of bourgeois interiority. And I guess I was just curious if you could talk a little bit more about what that transition from something like fictional narratives to an analytical questionnaire might mean for the narrative categories to which we understand and express sexual identity.

And to give a little bit of ulterior motive context for this, I just finished a dissertation chapter where I was writing about Venus in Furs on the one hand and Psychopathia Sexualis on the other. And I think I can discern Sacher-Masoch received these fan letters that had fan fiction where the people identified themselves within the fictional narratives of Venus in Furs versus Krafft-Ebing b got these letters from people where they started writing these case histories about themselves where they identified themselves in his medical pathologies.

And I guess my question is where we might look for alternative models for narratives for the expression of sexuality when is there possibility in something like fictional narrative versus the analytical questionnaire or the case study because I argue that I can discern in this a model of sadomasochism that might have been– from Venus in Furs that might have been more aesthetic or teachable rather than a sexual identity category. Just curious if you had some thoughts about that.

[KADJI AMIN] Yeah. No, that sounds like a great thesis. And yeah, I think I would put it not as a transition from one mode to another but as things that were overlapping and happening simultaneously. And one thesis that I’ve been– or one hypothesis that I’ve been toying with but I haven’t yet decided if I’m going to stand behind it is the idea that these were different gendered types of technologies of the self.

The major consumers of the novel at the time were bourgeois white women. And in terms of Cousins’– what was it– psychological method, the people that those were supposed to train were white bourgeois men. And then in all the writing that is pouring out of this time about novel-reading women, it’s never a question of praising the fact that they’re acquiring this highly developed interiority, much less of seeing it as something that could be sturdy and that could help them be self-disciplining and good subjects and so on, but rather fear of their imaginations running amok or of hysteria, of nerves.

So there isn’t the same sense of a stable novel-reading subject, at least in those tracks written against women who read novels. So I think that possibly one might use that to develop as it sounds like you are a reading of some certain more fictional writing technologies as allowing actually a way out of sexual selfhood. One would have to look on a case-by-case basis and see what exactly is happening in those works. . But yeah, it does seem plausible. Yeah. Was there another part of your question that I’m missing? Or did I get it?


OK, yeah, I just realized also that I didn’t respond to the second part of Juana’s question about other selfhoods. So I just wanted to say that there are many selfhoods. And there are many different types of interiorities. Spiritual and religious interiorities are probably among some of the first recorded instances or theorizations of different types of interiority.

And so individuality, interiority, et cetera, are not terms that in and of themselves belong to the modern bourgeois era. One thing I like about the historian Jen Goldstein’s book is that she differentiates between different types of interiority to demonstrate the newness of Cousin’s idea of this innate, solid, unified interiority, which in some ways is the dumbest theory of subjectivity. We have many other theories of subjectivity that are better.

But it’s an extremely influential and powerful one because of the way– because of how congruent it is with liberal law, which, as we know, is founded on bourgeois property rights. So that link that is made at that early point is so powerful that it’s able to carry through even to today, despite all the many theoretically better but also highly differentiated in terms of culture, religion, et cetera, accounts of selfhood that we might have.

So I just wanted to clarify that there are many types of selfhood and interiority. But I’m tracking the hegemony of this certain version of it.

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] Thank you for lots of sparks going off. I’m wondering if you have any thoughts on how Hirschfeld’s notion of pederasty– and if I interpreted you correctly, you were suggesting that despite his efforts, pederasty could not be subsumed under the logic of interiority that he was proposing. So if I understood you correctly, I’m curious how you understand pederasty in relation to the Oedipal triangle, which represents a non-homosexual youth-adult formation that in fact does get subsumed into the production of a subject and becomes the very basis of subject formation for Freud, normative subject formation.

So that’s one question I have is, how do you understand pederasty in relation to the Oedipal triangle? And then the second question I have, I was really interested in your political, economic– sorry, I’m trying to find you– political, economic strand to your thesis on possession of the self and also, parallel to that, your thesis on the sociality of pederasty and the function that pederasty has in a social world.

And so I’m thinking about the notion of social capital, which is perhaps what something like the Oedipal triangle is producing for a normative subject is a social capital that then gets exploited in society. Is that also perhaps what’s happening with pederasty in Hirschfeld’s desire to suggest that pederasty could be subsumed in the production of an interiority, that, in fact, what is being produced as a social capital for the homosexual that previously was denied as a result of essentially not being figured into the Oedipal triangle?

[KADJI AMIN] Whoo. That’s a really interesting question. I don’t know if I’m going to do justice to it because I don’t really think in terms of Oedipal triangles. Yeah, I think one thing that I was saying in terms of Hirschfeld’s attempt to subsume pederasty into a theory of age-based innate sexual orientation was not that it could not be subsumed. Because sexologists make all kinds of terrible claims, just like really silly claims.

And so it could be yet another one of these really silly claims that nevertheless become quite important and are taken seriously. But it was not. So the question is, why was this not the case? And so rather than saying it was a logical incoherence– I mean, I was pointing out the logical incoherence. But that’s not the reason that it didn’t become influential.

I think the reason it didn’t become influential was precisely because of the way it was associated with earlier forms of political economy and of unfreedom that were dangerous. It would be dangerous to reveal that bourgeois hegemony continued to be based on similar types of structures.

Yeah, in terms of the Oedipal triangle, I don’t know. It’s very intriguing what you’re suggesting to me. But I don’t think I’m the person to do that kind of work. For me– I mean, the reason that I got interested in pederasty in the first place was that it became clear to me when I was studying [INAUDIBLE] or– yeah, to me, it became clear that we had to think about– we had to think about the effects on sexual subjectivation of structures far beyond the Oedipal triangle, especially when you’re talking about a large proportion of people who didn’t grow up in bourgeois nuclear households.

And so, for instance, in [INAUDIBLE] writing, prison is figured as a mother. And the familial– all of these highly sexualized familial dynamics that are subject to forming happen in the context of prison and in the context– well, this is a boys penal colony. So a youth prison and in the context of male-male hierarchies within the prison.

So that’s part of why I’ve moved away from thinking in Oedipal terms. But there is surely something interesting going on that I think you’re pointing out in terms of this older, younger, erotics of the Oedipal triangle and how that is subject to forming. And I would have to brush up on theories of social capital to answer that other question as well.

But yeah, I think that Hirschfeld was trying to get– I mean, as I understand it, Hirschfeld’s theory of sexuality was trying to attain a social capital for homosexuals that he didn’t think existed at the time. And that’s one of the difficult things. In all this literature– in all this sexological literature, you see that one of the big things that they’re fighting against is the notion that homosexuality is contagious, particularly through pederasty, that older men could initiate youths, and that those youths might be ruined for life and become homosexuals themselves.

And precisely the same discourse has come back around transness today, the contagiousness of transness, the vulnerability of youth, such that if they’re even exposed to the idea of transness, they might become trans. And the falseness of transness, if it’s because they learned it from a peer or an educator.

So in a sense, we’re still caught in the same political trouble that Hirschfeld was in in the early 20th century when the solution that was staked out was to say, OK, let’s say that these are congenital inverts and that they can’t help it and that they’re completely different and discrete from this other population of men who might have sex with men for gain or for money or temporarily or something like that as a way to base our rights and our non-responsibility on our innate sexual selfhood.

So I think that that’s part of the resistance to moving away from discourses of sexual selfhood or of gender selfhood is a fear of the ammunition that that might give people on the right. But on the other hand, I believe strongly that selfhood is a very poor foundation to base a politics on, particularly when– I mean, for reasons that I already mentioned, but also around the question of the unprovability of subjective, say, identification and the way that it can always be cast aside and said, well, the only reason this person believes that they’re trans is because they’re misinterpreting this or that or because it’s just a phase or because they learned it from this thing. But in reality, they’re not trans.

So in other words, I don’t think that it necessarily gets us out of that bind. And at the same time, I think that we’ve ceded ground in a way by refusing to fight the battle of the– yeah, that would argue for– yeah, that wouldn’t base the right to transition or the right to engage in homosexuality on an innate sexual subjectivity.

So a lot of the ground– a lot of the arguments that these sexologists made in the early 20th century continue to be the foundation of contemporary politics, even though we know they’re wrong and even though we know that they don’t account for large populations of people. So I know I went a little bit of field of your question towards the end there. Sure.

[INAUDIBLE]. [AUDIENCE MEMBER] Thank you so much. As always, absolutely riveting. And my question is about the idea of two-spirit identity. And you mentioned earlier the idea that gendercide doesn’t do justice to these antecedents of two spirit as social and ritual positions. And my question is just how you see two spirit today of negotiating the fallout of this shift from social to self, whether you see it as just a variation on non-binarity, whether it’s trying to do something else, and maybe more broadly, just what your engagement with Indigenous queer critique is.

[KADJI AMIN] Yeah, so two spirit today– I mean, I’m not the person to issue a pronouncement on what’s going on with two-spirit identity today. I think it’s very in process and very variable in terms of how individual people engage with two-spirit identity. I think that many of them who do engage it do see it as some kind of recognition of the traditional significance of this kind of role.

So it is an attempt to write themselves into native history and to write people like them into native history. And I think that they do also see it as a place or as a term for people who don’t fit into settler colonial definitions of gender and sexuality or homosexuality and transgender for that matter. So I think that– I mean, my impression is that it is operating to some extent, the way that Miranda wants it to operate. But it’s neither my object of study nor my place, really, to say what’s going on with it and what should go on with it.

So yeah, my purpose in referencing her article was more to demonstrate both the kinds of epistemological harms that were being brought by people like Hirschfeld and the fact that this continues well into the present with the– even though we might look at what Hirschfeld is doing and say, yes, I’ve seen that happen a billion times with sexologists and these primitive exemplars. That’s nothing new.

But what I was trying to do through reference to Miranda was to show how even the most progressive contemporary thinkers who are with good politics end up using this term gender identity when they know very well that it’s not what they’re describing because of the currency that gender identity has and because of what they think that they may be able to access through it. Same with sexual orientation. So I was really just using that to project us into the present and to show how salient these processes still are.

And yeah, in terms of my relation to critiques of settler colonialism, yeah, I think that I’m very on board with them. What I’m doing is– I don’t know. It’s not specifically situated within settler colonial critique. But I’m trying to see it as one instance of something that is being subsumed in this much larger project of subsumption.

And there are so many things being subsumed. Pederasty is one of them but not the only one; transactional sex; later on, drag as well as forms of transness that can’t be reduced to drag but that also can’t be reduced to gender identity. So the field is quite vast in terms of what is not being described and what is being subsumed.

In the contemporary moment, I’m interested in how gender identity is functioning in the global South. And there’s been some great scholarship on hijras in India in the way that they have not been served by recent legal wins. And so I think that all of this is very telling of the inadequacy of gender identity for politics and the way that it continues to participate in this project of fungibility and commensurability, which can sometimes come with wins, but which always comes with losses.

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] Thank you so much for your talk. I was wondering if you’d speak more to the connection between a epistemology of self and a statistical epistemology of population, the ways in which Hirschfeld’s survey which surveys a population comes to construct the individuality of a self.

[KADJI AMIN] Yeah, so thank you for that question. Yeah, so I think– one thing that I wanted to emphasize in this talk was that population came first in terms of where sexuality came into focus as a kind of object of governance. But nonetheless, when self came along, population did not go away. They continued to operate in tandem.

And so it’s very common among sexologists to see a simultaneous concern with the self and the population. And the way that sexology, which was a kind of upstart science that was derided as not real science largely because it was concerned with these dirty sexual matters, the way that it attained or sought to attain legitimacy was by saying, no, we’re about the population. We’re about the reproduction of the race. That is like the white race of the Germanic race. And thus, we are talking about things that are important to the state and to governance.

So there’s always a eugenic wing to things that sexologists are saying that go along with their focus on, say, the bourgeois pervert. The bourgeois pervert is important in the first place because of the fact that they may not reproduce their social station, which is what they’re supposed to do, which is a crisis. And so yeah.

So those two things very much work in tandem. Hirschfeld’s sexual Institute had a eugenic wing that was focused specifically on eugenic marriage counseling. And I think, yeah, you’re right to point out how the survey is functioning on both ends at the same time, on the one hand in order to come up with these slightly specious statistics about what percentage of homosexuals are this or that.

And also, that’s part of his argument that it’s innate, that this percentage is going to be stable across time and place. And then at the same time, in order to incite the production of sexual subjectivities in people who take those surveys and in people who are called upon by those surveys and by other case studies to narrate their lives in those kinds of terms. So yeah. So I think they work in tandem.

[SALAR MAMENI] Thank you.

[KADJI AMIN] Thank you




The Modern American Industrial Strategy: Building a Clean Energy Economy from the Bottom Up and Middle Out

A presentation of the Berkeley Economy and Society Initiative

Recorded on March 22, 2023, this talk — “The Modern American Industrial Strategy: Building a Clean Energy Economy from the Bottom Up and Middle Out” — features Heather Boushey, a member of President Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers and Chief Economist to the Invest in America Cabinet.

Boushey is co-founder of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, where she was President and CEO from 2013-2020. She previously served as chief economist for Secretary Clinton’s 2016 transition team and as an economist for the Center for American Progress, the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress, the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and the Economic Policy Institute. This talk was co-sponsored by the Berkeley Society and Economy Initiative (BESI), the Network for a New Political Economy (N2PE), the Stone Center on Wealth and Income Inequality, and Social Science Matrix.


The Biden-Harris Administration began at a time of intersecting crises, including the pandemic, rising inequality, stagnating economic growth, and the large and growing costs of climate change. The President, in partnership with Congress and state and local governments, took rapid action with policies that have spurred the strongest and most equitable economic and labor market recovery in modern history — including legislation to enhance the resilience of our supply chains, rebuild our physical infrastructure, and accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy. These historic measures, together forming the core of the Modern American Industrial Strategy, were designed with an understanding that strategic public investments are essential to achieving the full potential of our nation’s economy — one built from the bottom up and middle out, where the gains of economic growth are shared.

Listen to this talk as a podcast below, or on Google Podcasts or Apple Podcasts.



Heather Boushey, “Building a Clean Energy Economy from the Bottom Up and Middle Out”


[PAUL PIERSON] Good afternoon and welcome. I’m delighted to have people here today to hear this really important, interesting talk that we’re going to hear. I’m Paul Pierson. I’m the director of the Berkeley Economy and Society Initiative, which is cosponsoring this talk along with the Network for a New Political Economy and the Stone Center on Wealth and Income Inequality.

And before I introduce our speaker, just one quick note for those of you who are on Zoom. I wanted to remind you that you can submit questions through the Q&A feature on the Zoom site. And if you have any AV trouble and would like assistance, you can send a message in the chat function, and we’ll try to help you out.

So last night, a few hundred thousand people in the Bay Area lost power due to high winds. So maybe it’s a good day to hear about the clean energy economy and building infrastructure. But the winds of change on economic policy and thinking about the economy have been blowing hard in Washington.

And I can’t think of anybody better to talk about that with us than Heather Boushey, who’s been at the very center of this process for over a decade. Prior to joining President Biden’s Council of Economic Advisors, she served as the Chief Economist for the Clinton-Kaine transition team. And she was the co-founder and the longtime president of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth.

Dr. Boushey has long been a leading voice in stressing that family policy is economic policy and in developing and promoting the ideas that have brought much needed attention to the care economy. And, today, she’s going to talk to us about the clean energy economy. And, Heather, we couldn’t be happier to have you here with us. Thank you for coming.

[HEATHER BOUSHEY] Thank you. Thank you, Paul. Thank you for inviting me to be here today to come up and get to see your new matrix. This is all very exciting. And to be able to be with you, I couldn’t be happier to be able to join you today.

So a lot of times, people ask me, what it is that an economist working for the president does? So I thought I would just start by spending a couple, just like– I don’t know– a few sentences. I am one of the members of the Council of Economic Advisors. And now I’m also the Chief Economist for the president’s Invest in America subcabinet.

And we, the Council of Economic Advisors, we get up each and every day thinking about the economics behind the president’s agenda and how we can deliver on that agenda in a way that is good for the economy, how we can enact policies so that the economy actually delivers on the president’s goals. And the president has made clear, I feel like gazillions of times at this point, that his goal is to build an economy from the bottom up and middle out.

He wants an economy where growth is strong, sustainable, where gains are broadly shared, where the economy is stable, not just strong, where our industries are globally competitive, where we have a strong and vibrant middle class, where we run our economy on clean energy and we bring down carbon emissions, and where we move beyond longstanding inequities. And so we at the CEA, we help the president as he is thinking about the economics behind how we’re going to do this.

And so today’s conversation, what I want to spend the next little bit of time talking to you about is about the president’s economic blueprint to reach his goals– what motivated it, what it is, why we believe that the evidence shows us that will be effective, and what successes that we’re already seeing. So that’s my opening slide here.

So, also, just a warning, this is a new slide deck. So while I feel very comfortable with all the material, if I’m like, oh, wait, which slide is this, just please no judgments here. I did have a late delayed flight because of weather. So we are here to talk about climate, so all the things.

So I want to start with the fact that the president came into office at the time of both immediate and long-simmering crises. It’s something he talked about a lot on the campaign. And we had the immediate crisis of the global pandemic and the pandemic-related recession.

And then candidate Biden also saw deeper structural challenges. And there were four or five of them I want to go through. So the first is that we learned a lot during the pandemic about how brittle our supply chains were, something that I think many of us were not talking about prepandemic, but we all learned.

And one analyst estimated that during the COVID-19 pandemic, a global semiconductor shortage affected as many as 169 separate industries. And this is a chart that shows the prices related to the contribution of vehicle prices to year-on-year inflation between 2019 and 2023. In 2021, all vehicles contribute about a third of annual core CPI inflation. And, of course, semiconductors were a big part of that.

There are the things going on in used cars. But in terms of new vehicles, just wanted to connect the dots between the semiconductor crisis and prices people faced. And the US share of modern semiconductor manufacturing capacity has dropped about 25 percentage points since 1990. So we saw that a factory closure somewhere around the world could affect what US consumers could buy but, more importantly, what prices we were paying.

The second big challenge that we saw– and I think this also was shown during the pandemic, but we knew that it had been emerging– is greater market concentration and less overall economic competitiveness. According to one estimate, since late 1990s, over 75% of US industries have experienced an increase in concentration levels. This is something that I know economists have been especially focused on.

What is this rising concentration mean? And the president, of course, has been focused on this. We will get to that.

The third crisis, the third challenge that the president had identified as a candidate is, of course, the growing issue of climate damages. This is a chart of the number of billion-dollar natural disasters, which have become increasingly common. I mean, Paul, as you said, I don’t have to tell anyone in California, I’m guessing, just how challenging this is.

But we know that there’s been an increase in the number of billion-dollar disasters rising from around five annually to over 20 in the past 40 years. We just got a new report this week from the UN IPCC that the frequency of events is likely to continue. And we know that there’s enormous costs associated with this, both in terms of the immediate addressing the damages, but what this does to state and local budgets, the federal budget, and the like and what this does to insurance markets and all sorts of different challenges that families face.

And then the other challenge– and this is a chart that is near and dear to the president’s heart. Near and dear is a weird way to describe a chart, also a kind of grumpy chart. But I will say that one of the things– and I’ve worked with the president a little bit before this campaign and over the years.

And this chart, which I think of as the Economic Policy Institute special– so, Larry Mishel, if you’re watching, I did say that. But this chart shows the gap between productivity and wages over time. And what it shows is that in the post-World War II period leading up to the late 1990s when the economy grew, when productivity grew, workers saw their wages rise commensurate.

But then since then, productivity has been growing. And yet workers’ wages haven’t been rising in lockstep. And that means someone has been gaining, has been accruing the gains of economic growth. But that has not been going to workers.

There are so many slides that I could show you on rising inequality. We could talk about rising wealth concentration. We could talk about rising inequality, looking at debt styles. I know that Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman were here and all of that work looking at that.

We could talk about the decline in economic mobility. But I think this chart is one that particularly speaks to the economic agenda that I’m going to talk about, which is, how do we reconnect the dots, reconnect what is happening in our economy to what it means for workers and families, a core goal of the Biden administration, and what it means to grow from the bottom up and middle out?

So the president came into office, and he called for a new course of action. And the first step in this new course of action from day one was to contain the pandemic and get the economy back on track. So in January of 2021, over the three months prior to the president’s inauguration, jobs were being created to the tune of 60,000 per month, which, if you follow the labor market, is very small, especially given the big hole we were in, in terms of the economy.

We were still suffering from the widespread pandemic. I did not bring charts on that today, because I wanted to focus, keep us moving. I think we all remember how bad that was.

And the very first thing that we focused on was the American Rescue Plan, which brought forth the fastest and most equitable economic recovery in decades. We deployed the policy tools that we had, worked to make sure that states, communities, localities had the resources they needed to get schools reopen, to get the vaccines out there to contain the pandemic and make sure that businesses and communities and families could weather the crisis and get back on track.

So we gave lots of money to child care centers around the country, lots of money to families, lots of money to schools to get everything going again.

So the outcome of that– and I will say this is one of the charts that I’m very proud to be able to have served in this administration. And this one brings me personally great joy that looking– we have seen the sharpest job market recovery relative to previous recoveries. And this is important because a pandemic recession is different.

During the pandemic, when we all knew that the virus was amongst us and we didn’t have the tools to fight it, it was really important that we shut down the economy, send people home for a while. So, of course, we cut off economic activity. But what we also needed to see is that activity coming back really quickly as soon as things were back up and running again.

And this chart shows that we have seen that in terms of jobs. So the dark blue line that goes in a sharp V down and then back up, that’s the 2020 recovery in terms of payroll employment. We’ve created almost 12 million jobs since the president took office. In the last year, we’ve seen the lowest unemployment rate on record for Black men, Hispanic workers, and workers without a high school degree.

We’ve seen this two strongest years of small business applications on record. Because of this, the United States leads the G7, which is the other advanced economies, in the pandemic economic recovery. And so this is really an important set of accomplishments.

And we can talk in the Q&A, if you would like, about some of the challenges that we’ve also faced. I don’t want to ignore the fact that, of course, prices have been high over this period. We have seen inflation. And I’m happy to talk about that, but I do want to emphasize the strength of this economic recovery.

I also want to emphasize that this recovery was particularly good for workers at the bottom of the wage distribution. This is a figure that builds on work that the– I believe it’s the Atlanta Fed. Apologies if I’m getting it wrong. I can never quite remember which fed it is.

But looking at wage growth by quartile and what is important here– I don’t have a little thing. But what is important here is down here at the end, you can see this dark line, which is the bottom quartile, has seen the sharpest growth in yearly nominal wages over workers in the top quartile, the third quartile or the second quartile, meaning that as we’ve had this recovery, we’ve seen workers at the bottom see economic gains.

So, again, when the president says he wants to build an economy from the bottom up and middle out, these are the kinds of outcomes he is looking to see. One more chart because I’m at Berkeley, I thought I would bring my Blanchet, Saez, and Zucman. This is their new real-time inequality chart.

And this shows real market income by income group. It’s looking at the top 10%, the next 40%, and the bottom half.

And, here, we can see that the bottom half has seen the strongest income growth relative to the top half, again, evidence that we’ve been growing this economy in a way that has been very inclusive, which I think is especially important given how many challenges families have faced in terms of high prices, but also just the challenges of the pandemic on top of that, which we know had severe equity implications in terms of which communities were hit the hardest.

Finally, one more indicator of the strength of the first step of the president’s plan to get the economy back on track has been that we’ve seen that family balance sheets are stronger than they were prepandemic. And this has been ongoing that we’ve been tracking this at the Council of Economic Advisors, just making sure that we’re getting a sense of just how this recovery is flowing.

One of the questions that I get asked all the time, especially when I go on television, is are we in a recession? Are we going to have a recession? Where we are seeing the data right now, things certainly are not– unemployment rates at near historic lows do not in themselves indicate we are in a recession. Of course, we’re seeing some challenges over the past 10 days with finance, which we won’t get into today.

But this economy has been able to adapt to– a variety of challenges have been thrown at it, various variants of the virus that have popped up. And we’ve had the resources to deal with them. Of course, Putin’s unprovoked war on the Ukraine, which has upended global energy prices, caused this large spike in energy prices that have been challenging.

Those have, in large part, come back down, including gas prices. And we are seeing that there’s still some strength in family balance sheets. So all of that bodes well for this recovery so far.

And now I want to move on from the immediate economic challenges to what I want to spend the most of my time talking about, which are the deeper structural challenges. As an economist who’d been working for a long time and had started an organization focused on the economic paradigm, having been candidate and then President Biden say that he wanted to change the paradigm feels very powerful. I want to spend a little bit of time talking today about what that means.

But what the president meant when he said that is that he repeatedly has said that recovering from the pandemic recession wasn’t good enough. During the campaign in the early years, we talked about the need to build back better. He knew that the challenges facing our economy– climate change and its effects, rising economic concentration, fragile supply chains, inequality, especially inequality by place and by race and ethnicity– these were structural challenges.

And so it wasn’t enough to get back to where we were. We needed to move. We needed to do better, which was core to the Build Back Better frame.

And in August, we laid all of this out in an economic blueprint for what the president is trying to achieve with his economic agenda. And this blueprint laid out five core pillars. And all of this, by the way, can fit on one tweet. So if you’re looking for a tweet, you can do this. You have to shorten the words a little bit.

But the first is to empower workers, to make sure that workers benefit from the economic recovery. The second is to focus on making it and building it in America. The president talks a lot about how our best days are not behind us, that we can build big things here in the United States. Giving families some breathing room– the president has made it very clear that his priority is to get prices down for families to deal with inflation and the high cost families are facing.

To make industry more competitive, less concentrated, more resilient, we need to deal with the challenges in our global supply chains. We need to deal with the challenges of rising economic concentration, what that means for workers, what that means for consumers, what that means for the little guy for small businesses.

And we need to make sure that we are rewarding work and not wealth. I said that wrong. I’m tired, so it’s like a little slip there. Rewarding work, not wealth.

The president has made very clear from day one, and is also clear on the budget that he just released a couple of weeks ago, that under his watch, he will not raise taxes on anyone making less than 400,000. He has also put forth a budget this year on top of being able to reduce deficits already, a budget this year that would reduce the deficit over the next decade by $3 trillion, doing that by focusing on fixing the tax code to make sure those at the top pay their fair share, so a very important value.

And, also, I believe, a lot of Berkeley folks have done a lot of research showing how those kinds of tax policies can be good for the economy. So I would refer you to the econ department. And you can talk more about that with our friends Danny and all the rest there. Wonderful.

So here’s the goals. So how are we going to get there? So to build this economy from the bottom up and middle out, we have to make strategic investments. So where step one was to contain the pandemic and get the economy back on track, step two was to identify and deliver on the strategic public investments that are essential to achieving the full potential of our nation’s economy.

And a lot of this was laid out during the campaign. And a lot of it has been refined over the course of the pandemic and built into a set of policies. So I’m going to walk you through the arc of this, but a set of policies working hand in hand with Congress.

So while we haven’t gotten everything done that the president set out to do, I do want to lay out to you how we thought about these strategic investments and why we think that there’s economic evidence that shows that this is a path that’s going to deliver on that bottom up, middle out strategy that the president is calling for and what the evidence we’re already seeing.

So the first thing is that– the fundamental idea here is that what we make it in America and how we make it matters. And I want to emphasize that this is a longstanding American idea. American policymakers have always cared about what we make here. There are a lot of strategic reasons to think so.

But what we make is, what are the strategic industries? What are the places where, if we don’t produce this here or have a sense of how we’re going to get it, we’re going to be creating challenges for ourselves. Again, think about the fragile supply chains and how, during the middle of a pandemic, we could not get enough face masks. We didn’t have the personal protective equipment that everybody needed.

Or think about the challenge that we faced with infant formula more recently, or think about the challenges that we face with semiconductors. What is it that is actually important for Americans? Then I will spent a lot of time talking about clean energy and why that is strategically important. But it really requires us to think hard about the areas where relying on private industry on its own will not or has not yet mobilized the investments necessary to achieve our core economic and national security interests.

So we’ve long had a strategy for defense industries. We know that it’s important that we have the capacity to make airplanes that can fly around and defend our country and all the other things that we need for defense. And they’ve long had an industrial strategy to make that happen.

And, of course, the military has long had a robust set of policies around that to make sure that they’re delivering that in a way that works for communities. I often think of their commitment to child care. And we can talk about that in the Q&A because I’m not going to talk about that too much up here, but wanted to at least ping that there.

We’ve also long had investments in other kinds of industries, investments in public universities, roads, railroads, public sector dollars building our industrial base and America’s middle class around the country. We put together the kinds of industries we needed to put a man on the moon. We put together the kinds of industries that we needed when it mattered to the United States.

And, today, we have an enormous set of significant challenges in front of us. And that is why one of the first things the president did when he took office, because we knew how brittle our supply chains were, was to ask a number of agencies across government to identify key strategic supply chains, few among them in energy, and to go through and say, what is going on with these supply chains? How can we make sure that we are having access to the things that we need, particularly, again, in the energy space?

And, of course, we all know that climate change is one of the biggest threats we’ve ever faced to our national, our economic security. It’s an existential threat. And that is why a series of pieces of legislation– the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act– are targeted to make the necessary investments in these most critical technologies, identifying where along the innovation to commercialization pipeline new investments are needed and how we can spur that.

So that is the what. So I want to get into the how. So the second part is how we make it. How is a very important piece of the puzzle. And we’ve seen a lot of this, just to pause for a moment before you read the slide. And I’ll get to this in a moment as well.

But a couple of weeks ago, the Department of Commerce released a Notice of Funding Opportunity for entities that want to apply for money to build a semiconductor factory, or they call them fabs. I guess they’re fabulous. It’s a new word I’ve had to learn, their fabs, these semiconductor fabrication plants.

We released this. And in it were a series of steps that weren’t just about making these tiny little semiconductors, but about how we make it. And it was very interesting to watch the national debate about whether or not how matters.

So I’m going to come back to that in a moment. But I want to just put that in the back of our minds as we’re thinking about what we mean by how. If we’re going to use taxpayer dollars to invest in strategic industries where the private sector is not already making those investments, how we do it is going to matter.

In my window, in my office at the Council of Economic Advisors, I can see down the mall a little bit. And I’m often reminded that there’s a whole bunch of agencies that the federal government has set up to deal with a variety of economic and social issues. We have an Environmental Protection Agency.

So we need to make sure that when we are inducing new private capital that we are not adding to– I think which one is this? Number 4– that we are not adding to environmental damage. If we are allowing these new investments that we’re making to add to the problems that we’re creating for this agency down the line, we wouldn’t be making good investments. We have to think about that from the get-go.

So how we make it means using public investment in the public interest, spurring private investment in innovation, shaping the market to make sure it works for American workers, families, and communities, as well as our national security and economic competitiveness. It means using or developing the policy tools to facilitate these investments.

And so these are the five core pillars that we’ve been talking about a lot inside the administration. So first is that we are working to crowd in private investment by spending government dollars strategically. That is the focus of particularly the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS and Science Act, which is we’re going to put a lot of federal dollars out there and encourage private market to crowd in those dollars. And we know that that is an important place to start.

Second is that we need to make sure that we are shaping markets in a procompetitive way. One of the things that we did early on in the administration that the president did– and I believe it was May of 2021– was a executive order that put in place a whole-of-government effort around market structure and competition. In that executive order, there were 72 specific actions that he was directing agencies to take to be more competitive, to make sure that they were not fostering economic concentration across industries as they were doing other things.

So we’ve often thought of market structure as just this thing over there that the Federal Trade Commission or the Department of Justice deals with. And we’ve said, no, this is everybody’s problem. If you’re doing a reg, a regulation, if you’re spending money, you have to think about how we as policymakers are shaping markets. So as we are making these investments in strategic industries, the how, how are we shaping markets is of utmost importance.

Promote macroeconomic stability– so we want to make sure that we are not adding to macroeconomic instability as we are doing this. I’ll get to this in a moment. But one thing that we have been working on at the Council of Economic Advisors with the Office of Management and Budget is, how do we integrate climate change and transition risk and opportunity into our macroeconomic forecasting? So a little bit separate, but as we’re thinking about these investments that we’re making, we have to think about what the macroeconomic implications may be.

And then number 5, number da da, da, da. Mitigate, I already mentioned that one. And then making sure that we are creating good jobs– we need to make sure that we are always thinking about the kinds of jobs that we’re creating.

Again, I think about the Department of Labor where you have a Division of Occupational Health and Safety, you have a Wage and Hour Division who are enforcing the nation’s labor laws and making sure that we are doing our part to have good outcomes for workers. And so as we are making these investments, are we taking all that into account and focusing on the good jobs that the president wants to see?

And I know that this is a challenging issue for some. But the president has also been very clear that it’s not just what we invest in and how we do, but where, that it is important that some things are made here in the United States. And so I want to just put up a few notes on why we think it is important that we have industry in this country.

First is to think about the nearly half century of economic inequality. What does it mean to foster good jobs? How do we think about the role of economic policy?

We know there’s been a lot of economic research in recent years on the role that opening up the United States to competition in terms of trade with China, allowing them into the WTO in the year 2000, what that did to particular communities around the country, called the China shock literature, that those economic effects were long lasting.

So we need to make sure that we are thinking about how government policy is affecting good jobs and communities all across the country. In the president’s word, “Too many people have been left behind in the past, and too many people were treated like they were invisible.” So how do we do that? And that making things in America and what we make matters.

The second is about economic competitiveness. We know because there’s a lot of research on this that shows that there was a theory many decades ago that the United States could focus on just the intellectual pieces of the production process, just the engineering, or the very highly sophisticated and all of the manufacturing and production could be done somewhere else. But we also know from a lot of literature on agglomeration and the effects of that, that we need both the strength in manufacturing as well as the ability to invent and commercialize future generations of technology.

We need to make sure that our supply chains aren’t brittle, but are resilient. And that requires thinking about place and where things are produced around the world.

One statistic here that comes to my mind a lot and that came out of looking at all of the supply chain reports that the president had the agencies do, one thing that is true is that OPEC is an important oligopoly in the world. We know that when OPEC affects oil prices, that affects– or changes prices or their supply, it affects everyone. OPEC only controls 40% of the world’s oil supply. And yet that is one of the most– it’s like the textbook case of an oligopoly.

Yet when you look at the clean energy supply chain, China currently controls over 80% of core parts of that supply chain. That is a monopolization of a supply chain that is incredibly important to our future, to economic competitiveness. And so thinking about place-based strategies is really important, especially as we’re thinking about what it means to be market shaping and to have a competitive economy.

And then, finally, the administration has been doing a lot of work with friends and allies around how to think about the pieces of the president’s vision and what kinds of partnerships. And I want to just elevate something that happened just last– I think it was last week, that is really important, which is the United States and the EU have now forged a new partnership on critical minerals.

The president, working with European Commission President von der Leyen, worked to immediately begin negotiations on a targeted critical minerals agreement so that relevant critical minerals extracted or processed in the European Union will count towards requirements for the electric vehicle credit, which I will get to in a minute. And this is an important piece of the puzzle about creating that resiliency in supply chains, but thinking about place-based strategies.

There’s other things I could focus on there, but I’m watchful of time. And I want to move on to focusing on the new toolkit that we are developing as we are thinking about this strategy. So if we are focusing on what we make in the United States, thinking about what is strategically important, how we do it, so how are we actually executing on that? And now we get some little graphics, moving on in the slide deck.

So we know that this modern American industrial strategy will require a new toolkit. And so there are four basic components of this that are top of mind. So the first is that we are tapping into the productive potential of people and places across the country.

And you can think of this in terms of not just looking at a model, but looking at a map, tapping into the potential all across the United States, targeting employment growth in economically distressed areas where you can get a big return on investment, and by leveraging dormant infrastructure assets and skill-ready workforces, also focused on supercharging innovation by triggering these agglomeration benefits in new research and development hubs. So it’s the first one.

A second tool in our toolbox is to provide long-term incentives to encourage the private sector to invest at massive scale. So a big part of what the administration is doing– and I’ll show you some visuals on this in a second– is creating that demand signal. Here is where we’re going, especially on clean energy, sending that strong demand signal, coupled with regulations that give investors certainty of where we’re headed to spur those mature technologies, to deploy more quickly and pull innovation into the market faster. And our goal is for this to reduce prices for families and create high-quality jobs for workers.

Third is to encourage. And so I’m transitioning a little bit here. I really want to hone in on our specific strategies around clean energy. So the president has been thinking about the CHIPS and Science Act. I’m going to leave that aside for a moment and really focus on what this means in clean energy because this– and I will use this as just a moment to segue for a second.

When I took my role at the Council of Economic Advisors, and the very first conversation I had with CeCe Rouse on our portfolios– because this president, his three members of the Council of Economic Advisors are all, first and foremost, labor economists– myself, CeCe Rouse, and Jared Bernstein. And that was a unique configuration.

And so the first question is like, who’s going to do what? It’s not all labor. But my first conversation with Chair Rouse was that I wanted the climate portfolio for this reason, which is that if you look out over the next 10 to 50 years and you care about where jobs are going to be created in the United States, thinking about our movement to clean energy seems to me probably the most important industrial question, because this is the industry that’s going to be leading the future.

We are all on a race to save the planet as quickly as we can. And there’s a lot of things that we need to invent, produce at scale, and export and produce all around the world. And so we need to be encouraging these investments throughout these clean energy supply chains as quickly as possible. But that both creates opportunities and challenges. But this is, I think, how we’re going to create good jobs across the country. So that was just a little bit of a segue there.

But back to the slide here, this last bullet, I think, is incredibly important. As we’re thinking about our toolkit, we’ve been focused on facilitating a government-enabled, private sector-led economy. What can we do so that government is shaping the market in the direction that we want it to go, and yet we are still getting all of that innovation, all of the wonderful things that the private sector brings to the table and lower costs over time? So our toolkit has been put together with all of this front of mind.

So I wanted to spend just a couple of seconds on some of the economic arguments and evidence behind this. As I think about this agenda that we have been putting together in the Biden administration, I have often thought about– and, actually, I don’t have in my notes here exactly where he said it.

But Dani Rodrik has called this kind of theory of the case productivism, which is a reorientation toward an economic policy framework that’s rooted in production, work and localism instead of finance consumerism and globalism. And you can see that here, we’re prioritizing what we make, how we make it, where we make it as the core economic question that we need to be focused on.

Janet Yellen has spoken and written about a new modern supply-side economics. She said, and I want to quote here, “Modern supply-side economics prioritizes labor supply, human capital, public infrastructure, research and development, and investments in a sustainable environment. These focus areas are all aimed at increasing economic growth and addressing longer-term structural problems, particularly inequality.”

Chair Rouse has called– and we just released a new economic report of the president. But in the last years, we focused a lot on calling for government to be a partner, not a rival, to private action. So those are some of the big-picture economic themes that we’re focused on here.

But in terms of focusing just on the clean energy piece, I wanted to put up my favorite quote from an economist about how some of our ideas are connected to the cutting edge of where folks are thinking. This is a quote from Daron Acemoglu. We had him talked to some folks about– as we were thinking about some of these issues.

And he has written that, quote, “The climate crisis demands that we consider more radical ideas” than just think– and this is my brackets– just thinking about pricing. “If we can reach a consensus on the need for massive investments in the clean-energy transition, perhaps we can agree to orient that spending around the creation of good jobs.

That might well violate the Tinbergen principle that the best way to neutralize a market failure is with a policy instrument designed specifically for that purpose. But if it helps to prevent the deepening of social, economic, and political fault lines that have appeared in many Western advanced economies, it will have been well worth it.”

So for a long time, as we thought about what to do about climate, the first best answer that economists gave was to focus on pricing, carbon tax. That’s the obvious thing to do. It’s a bad thing. Tax it. That’s the obvious thing to do.

But what we have learned– we’ve learned a number of things. One, not clear that there is a political path to actually do that. So, personally, I was like, how long do we have to wait for people to realize that that’s the best idea? And that seemed like too long.

But second– and I think this is really important. And there’s been a lot of especially political science research on this question. As it turns out, different industries have different needs. And it is not just that we need to get rid of emissions. That is important for the climate. That’s super important.

If you’re a climate scientist, that is like 100% job one. That is what you’re thinking about. Hi, I’m a labor economist. What I care about is, how are we going to do this in a way that creates industries and jobs and doesn’t just destroy our economy in a way that would be both politically unpalatable and also add to the structural challenges that I talked about at the beginning of this slide?

There are people that work at manufacturing facilities that produce cars that run on gasoline. If we just start taxing all of that but don’t have a plan, then what happens to them? How do how do we adapt? And that is the challenge that we’ve brought on.

So in the beginning where I talked about what we make, strategic investments, our strategic investments in clean energy are grounded in the idea that we need to make sure that we are facilitating this building of a new clean energy economy and not just assuming that the market will do everything on its own if we do not provide that support.

So I wanted to put up Daron’s quote here because I thought that that was– I feel like people smarter than me were saying similar things. So that’s always a good thing. Go to the experts.

OK, so as we’ve thought through, I think the other thing, I just wanted to note on the economics of this. So one of the challenges– if you’re an economist or an economist-akin audience member, one of the challenges with doing the kinds of industrial strategy that we are involved in is whether or not you feel that we are just picking in winners and losers. Oh, my goodness, this is so inefficient, even if you think that a carbon tax was maybe not politically palatable or maybe even if you thought that there were other policies.

So I wanted to just spend a couple of moments on noting that so much of what we have focused on are building the kind of productivity-enhancing infrastructure that we need to be building as well as solving specific market failures. But as we’ve thought about these market failures, we’ve thought about them broadly. And I think that’s an important piece of the puzzle.

In 2021, early on in the administration, the Council of Economic Advisors, we put out a paper called Innovation, Investment, and Inclusion– Accelerating the Clean Energy Transition and Creating Good Jobs. And, there, we laid out the series of market failures that we saw in this energy transition.

And, of course, there is the negative externality of emissions. But there are also a number of classic market failures. One that we’ve spent a lot of time on in the administration is thinking about coordination problems.

So think of the challenge with electric vehicles. Very difficult to think, I’m going to go out and buy an electric vehicle if there isn’t a network available for you to charge that vehicle, or if there is a network. But it doesn’t use your charger, because there’s been a private actor who’s been trying to monopolize it and not sharing those chargers with everybody.

So those are the classic kinds of problems where we believe that government can play a role helping to set standards, but also to solve this chicken and egg problems. Which comes first, the charging network or the electric vehicles? So we said, yes, let’s do both.

So in our policies, we have both spent $7.5 billion on a nationwide charging network as well as supported the development of electric vehicles. But I think I want to just elevate that many of the ways that we’ve targeted the specifics of our industrial strategy are grounded in strong economic principles trying to solve these classic problems of externalities, coordination failures, various sets of market structure questions.

So now I’m going to just take a few more minutes to go through some specifics. Hold on here. And then I want to get to questions of what we’re actually doing. So this is the theory of the case. And now I want to get to the legislation, which is the core pieces of the toolkit that we’ve put in place.

So by now, I’m sure everyone is familiar with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, also known as the IIJA, which I don’t know what it stands for. But we call it the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law because, very proudly, it was bipartisan, hundreds of billions of dollars for all sorts of things across the United States.

I will note that the 7.5 billion, there’s a really set of interesting papers by Jim Stock and colleagues on how this money that we’re spending on the network may be some of the most efficient dollars that we’re spending, moving the electric vehicle transition– which was good to hear, because it’s a small amount of money, but also could be very impactful– but money on the power grid and the like.

And then the Inflation Reduction Act, which passed in the summer in August– loans and grants to industry, clean energy production investment tax credits, consumer tax credits, all of which focused on spurring this new vital industry that we need to build a clean energy economy.

Now, there’s a lot of details in all of this. And I’m going to put up a very difficult slide for you to read. Oh, no, I’m not. Wait, hold on. Wait, I thought– wait a minute, my notes– we’re going to just skip this one. There we go. We’re just going to go to the difficult side to read.

So I wanted to put this one up. Even though it’s difficult to read– and I don’t like slides like this because I can’t see very well sometimes. But the reason I wanted to put that up there is that we are doing all of these things to spur a new clean energy economy.

And as we are doing so, we are making sure that this is good for communities, using every tool in our toolbox. So all of these little numbers and little details here are different elements of different pieces of the legislation that focus on things like prevailing wages and apprenticeship requirements. So there’s a set of the credits to businesses that say, if you want this credit, it will be increased by 5% times for projects that meet prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements.

There are also various ones where there’s a 30% credit for projects meeting these requirements. These are additions, usually, on top of things where we are making sure that we are adding domestic content requirements, focusing on energy communities and low and moderate-income communities so that you get more of a tax credit if you put your investment in places that need it most, so trying to leverage these public dollars in a way that can induce private capital to the places where it will be most effective.

The two at the bottom around Direct Pay is making sure that entities that do not generally benefit from income tax credits, like state, local, and tribal governments, nonprofits or churches, can also benefit from some of these, which is a small thing, but could be huge to those organizations and being able to benefit from them.

I mentioned earlier the CHIP’s Notice of Funding Opportunity and how they were doing this as well. They said that applicants for major projects have to include a detailed plan for providing affordable, high-quality child care to both the construction and fab workers. And they have to pay prevailing wages while encouraging them to create high-quality jobs.

So we’ve decided on these strategic industries. And we’re investing in them in a way that will hopefully address– doing our best using all the tools in our toolkit to address these longer-term structural issues.

So I’m going to skip this next slide, and I’m going to go straight to some success. OK, so building the economy from the bottom up, some successes– so we are already spurring private investment in construction and manufacturing.

So these charts go from 2010 through 2022. You can see an uptick in real manufacturing construction being put in place that is equivalent to the run-up in the recovery from the Great Recession in the early teens. And this is real electronics manufacturing put in place, so millions of US dollars, a spike there.

Our goal is to crowd in private investment. So this is publicly enabled but private sector driven. And you can see this in some of these numbers.

Here is a map. This is one that the president likes to tweet out a lot. Manufacturing is on the rise. For a while, we were all saying, everything’s on the rise.

So we’re already seeing companies responding to the president’s investments. We were able to start tracking this within weeks of the Inflation Reduction Act being signed. So the president signs this law putting all of these subsidies in place. And, very quickly, the private sector started to act. And I think in clean energy, this is so important.

The president told the country, told the world these are the strategically important industries we need to be focused on. We need to make sure that this is what we are doing, and the private sector has acted. And you can see they’re all across the country. And it’s too small to read all of that. But if you go to the president’s Twitter feed, you will be able to see this chart.

The next one, we’ve seen that manufacturing employment has been growing apace. We’ve seen the fastest two-year manufacturing job growth in nearly 40 years. And the economy has added nearly 800,000 jobs in manufacturing. Again, like the earlier chart I showed you on overall total payroll employment, this has been the fastest growth relative to other economic recoveries.

I’m sure somebody is asking or thinking, gosh, Heather, is everybody going to become a manufacturing worker in the United States? Probably the answer to that question is no. But in terms of being able to build things and make things in the United States and have some greater resiliency in our supply chains and also the innovation and technological advances in clean energy, this is certainly an important achievement.

These are some cool maps from the Department of Energy, focusing on new investments in battery manufacturing and supply chain investments and American-made solar happening all across the country. So, again, these are a little bit small. But these are available on the Department of Energy’s website. Again, you can see these investments going up all over the country.

North American battery cell manufacturing is now set to grow nearly 15-fold by 2030 based on tracked announcements, enough for 10 to 13 million electric vehicles. Nearly 40% of these announcements have been announced since the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.

In August of 2021, the president did an event where he had the big three auto companies and the UAW, and he said, we want to make sure that by 2030, half of all auto sales in the United States be electric vehicles. We are now on track to make enough batteries to do so.

Yay. I’m just like, OK, great. Yeah, little confetti here. Since [INAUDIBLE], it’s nice to set a goal and meet a goal, even when you thought– we did the analysis on that. Could we do this? And yes, it was theoretically possible. But I don’t know where all the pieces come into play. So it’s very exciting.

We’ve seen over 95 gigawatts of domestic solar equipment manufacturing capacity has been announced across the country as well. We have seen– and then I think this is just some stats on different investments that have been announced or things that are happening. We’ve seen electric vehicle shares are projected to be 56% to 67% for light duty. I think you can read all of these. I do want to get to Q&A.

So I have a couple more– let me just see here. So I have a couple more brag slides, just going to go through them and let you just mull on all of the accomplishments.

This new National Renewable Energy Laboratory study just came out that said that, combined, the Bipartisan Infrastructure and the IRA are– you can read the things. Make clean energy more abundant, slash power sector emissions, deliver cost savings, but some good assessments of just how far we are going.

And for those of you who really are focused on emissions, because if that’s why you care about climate change its emissions, not just jobs like me, we are seeing that the emissions reductions are significant. And we are on track. At this point, we believe by our analysis and other outsiders to meet the president’s goal of cutting emissions in half relative to 2005 by the president by 2030, which is important for us to meet our Paris Agreement goals.

And a lot of this is being done through the Loans Program Office. I skipped that slide in the interest of time. It’s one of the offices that is making the investments. They are giving loans to cutting-edge companies across the country to help spur this clean energy transition.

So this is an assessment of how much money has gone out. As of February 2023, they do a monthly assessment. Again, this is on the web page, but just to show how much is going out. And this is where their applications and activities are.

So with that, I’m going to stop because I wanted to stop five minutes ago. I have too many slides because I’m just too excited to tell you about all the things we’ve accomplished.

Just to end, I think what is important here is that the president came into office understanding that there were a series of economic challenges, an immediate crisis, long-term structural issues. He said, we needed to build back better. We need to build an economy from the bottom up and middle out.

The core way that, in his view, we needed to do that was to change our thinking from just assuming that if we just let our hands go and let markets do whatever they wanted, everything would be OK and focus on the strategic places where government could really make a difference and making sure that we do that in a way that benefits people in communities all across the country. That is the core economics behind this and economics, because I’m here at the matrix that has been informed by lots of social science researchers, not just economists.

And I think we are already– as I’ve shown, there’s a lot of evidence that this kind of approach can show good strong results. With that, I will stop. Thank you.

[PAUL PIERSON] So we’ve got some questions online. But I always think that we should start by rewarding people who have made the trek here. So Eva can walk around. And if you raise your hand, we’ll get some questions.

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] I’m going to start with the softball question.

[HEATHER BOUSHEY] Tell me who you are.

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] Yeah, I’m Larry Magid. I teach at the Goldman School of Public Policy here on campus. So I’m curious about the structure of the president’s– and I’m going to try to say this right– the Invest in America cabinet. So who’s in it? How is it structured? What is your role? And are there specific goals that that cabinet has set?

[HEATHER BOUSHEY] I’m going to cheat because I have a note on who’s in it right here. And I have my– yeah. So the Invest in America cabinet was announced. The president gave a major economic speech on January 26.

And in it, he said that he was forming this new cabinet. It was about the same time that Ron Klain got his well-deserved time away from the White House, and Jeff Zients took on as Chief of Staff. And there was a lot of discussion about really moving fully into implementation, although, of course, we were doing that before.

The subcabinet includes Department of Commerce, Department of Labor, Department of Transportation, the Treasury, the Department of Energy, and Health and Human Services. And the purpose is to focus on implementing the variety of pieces of legislation that the president has put into place. So one of the wonderful things about a democracy is that you don’t always know how things are going to end up.

So the president was able to get the bipartisan infrastructure laws passed earlier than the other pieces of his agenda. So, of course, when that happened, he brought in Mitch Landrieu to help to head up the implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. He’d also earlier brought in Gene Sperling to head up the implementation of the American Rescue Plan.

But then once the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS and Science Act were passed, wanted to really make sure that everybody is focused on executing on all of these together because the American people don’t see specific pieces of legislation. They see the outcomes they want to see in the world. And these are a package so that you need the infrastructure.

You need the power grids. You need the EV charging stations to go with the investments that are happening in the other pieces of legislation. So that’s what the subcabinet is focused on.

I’m the chief economist. Never know what a chief economist does. I think my job is to help people, help the community understand what the economics of this are and how we can do this in a way that will have the desired economic outcomes. Thanks. That was a great little– pshoo.


[AUDIENCE MEMBER] Hi. I’m Jonas Meckling. I teach climate and clean energy politics. Thanks so much for a fascinating overview. I have questions about the government’s ability to make and manage these investments.

The first one is around bureaucratic capacity. It takes a lot of government officials to make these investments. We’ve seen changes to the Department of Energy, for instance, the Office of Infrastructure. How concerned are you about this becoming a bottleneck for implementing these investments? And if so, what kind of changes would you like to see?

The second one is around coordination. You mentioned the coordination market failures. What mechanisms does the federal government have to coordinate across agencies, but also with state governments in making these investments for clean energy future?

[HEATHER BOUSHEY] OK, coordinated across state governments– so in terms of bureaucratic, I mean– so I think that that is a great question. There is, I will say, a couple of things. One, there is an enormous resource of incredibly talented civil servants and political appointees across government that are dedicated getting up each and every day figure out how to do this.

The Department of Energy has hired or is hiring– I don’t want to give a number, because I’m not sure exactly how many– but lots of people to help execute on this. So this is something certainly that they are focused on each and every day. I can tell you from where I sit, something like the Loans Program Office or the other offices are doing the hard work to lay out the strategic needs and then how they are going to implement and execute on them.

So, for example, there are a set of– and I probably– so the slides that I showed you from the Loans Program Office gives you a sense of their strategic investments. They have also released a series of pathways reports. I have too many pieces of paper here. And they don’t have page numbers, so I won’t be able to find them.

But those were just released, I believe, earlier this week that lay out the strategic ways that they are guiding their investment decisions. And so I think my answer to you is that people understand the challenge and are stepping up to it.

I think the other question we need to ask ourselves is, if not us, who? And so what I saw in the supply chain reports that came out earlier in the administration is that the private sector created a set of supply chains– these were their independent decisions– that are very difficult to track. If you talk to the supply chain people, they’ll start throwing up these charts that just literally look like bowls of spaghetti. You don’t know what’s coming from where and how you track it.

So as agencies went out there to look at, how do we make sure that the things that we really need to get to where they need to go that are of national importance, government is particularly equipped to be able to help provide that guidance and that analysis. And I think you saw that in those supply chain reports, to ask some of those tough questions.

Your second question was coordination. I think you said coordination across federal and state. Is that what you’re asking? Or across agencies?

Federal and state.

  1. So, well, I think that the Invest for America subcabinet is emblematic of the kinds of coordination. There is a daily coordination across agencies. But I think when the president put that forward, he wanted to make sure that at the highest level, there was that connective tissue to make sure that– as one of my colleagues says who works on industrial organizations, she’ll look at these things. She’s like, there’s a lot of steel in all of these.

Are all the right people across agencies talking to each other about how we’re making sure that we are producing that clean steel? We’ve got the green steel deal with Europe that we are still talking about, the steel and aluminum. Like, are we thinking about all these pieces and how that’s fitting into everyone’s plans? And yes, people are coordinating and working on that.

I will say, in some ways, the pandemic, challenging as it was, my experience in government is that because Zoom is so easy, I’m on a video call with someone from an agency multiple times a day. And I’m at the CEA. I’m not even at the NSC, or I’m not on one of the policy councils. So there’s a lot of connective work happening across those teams.

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] Thanks. Thanks for sharing all this and all of the great work. I wanted to ask about another part of innovation policy. So we’re talking about industrial policy and all the new work being on it.

But people like Fred Bloch have been writing about how the US has had a hidden developmental state and an industrial policy over many decades of a lot of innovation coming through the military, DARPA, et cetera. And then the model, typically, is that those inventions are provided open source, free. The government doesn’t retain any intellectual property rights.

And then they get taken up by people in Silicon Valley and elsewhere and then often wind up privatizing a lot of profits. And I was wondering if there are parts of this that address some of that issue. And I know that one of the people who’s advocating for this now is Mariana Mazzucato, for instance, the idea that the government should retain some kind of a residual right to participate in some of the upside. And so I just wanted to see if there’s anything to say about that.

[HEATHER BOUSHEY] That is a great question. I do not want to misspeak. So let me pause on that question because I don’t have the notes that I am looking for. I mean, I think that that is a great question.

One thing I wanted to note is that I– and I think this is where the administration is really pushing into new areas. So there’s a lot of– so the economists will be the first one to tell you that things that government should invest in are research and– like, the early stage research, the science bit of it.

I think that one of the challenges that we have both identified and are trying to fix right now is that that’s super important. Yes, we should do it and especially in clean energy, given the urgency, but also in some other sectors. And semiconductors is certainly one of them.

There is a role for government on not just on the pure research side, but on the getting to commercialization side. And so that brings up new issues, which we’re getting at. If it’s science, if it’s research that anyone can benefit, OK. But once you’re getting into, how is it that you’re going to help a particular firm move faster to create clean energy vehicles, or how are you going to help a particular firm make the kind of green hydrogen that we want, how do you think about some of those?

So I think there are great questions to ask. I would want to consult– I don’t have my notes that I would want to give someone the specific answers. But I’m happy to follow up with you on that. And then there’s a question. There’s questions here.

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] Steve Vogel, Political Science and Political Economy. In terms of supply chain resilience, I just would love to get your thoughts on how we wrap our heads around, what makes a sector or a technology more or less strategic? As you suggested, the definition of strategic used to be strategic in a military sense. And, obviously, you’re thinking about something much more expansive.

So if we’re replacing that definition, then what do we replace it with? Are there principles or modes of analysis that can help us think through what needs to be made here versus what doesn’t?

[HEATHER BOUSHEY] Yeah, that is the question, Steven. I mean, that is literally the question. And I have spent a lot of time mulling on that and knowing that that is like, where does it end? Where does it end? What do we think is important?

I think, especially myself, I saw that over the pandemic, when it started to feel like everything was on government– we were going to save Christmas the first year because we’re making sure that things got to market. And there was a little bit like, where’s the responsibility?

But I think that gets to the thing that is so important, which is that in a crisis, people turn to government. So part of my answer back to you is that’s actually the question we need to be thinking about right now. We started off with Paul talking about last night’s weather. Extreme weather is happening all across the country, all across the world.

We know that we are living in a time that is more uncertain, more volatile, potentially more chaotic than humans have faced before because of the nature of climate change and the damages. And we know that things like the pandemic– I’m not a real scientist. Economist here. But I understand from people that study viruses is that these things may become more common as we have climate change.

So I think a question that we need to ask now that might be different than in 1952 or 1972 or 1982 is, how do we as societies make this transition to build clean energy economies and make that as smooth as easy as possible? And that feels to me like– that is certainly where this administration has come down. But I think that there’s a deeper set of answers, one that all of you that are here at Berkeley– I mean, this is the conversation we need to have.

But I will segue going to something that I did not talk about up here. But I’ve become a little like, ugh, with– as I mentioned, we have been working on incorporating climate risk and transition risk and opportunity into our macroeconomic forecasting. One of the things that I’ve learned through this work is that our energy models, our climate models– looking at you, climate people– they assume a transition.

Most of these models use carbon pricing to say, here, today, we use fossil fuels. Tomorrow, we’re going to do something different. It’s going to be awesome. But we’re going to get from here to there by assuming a price transition. But all of this stuff in the middle, literally everything that I just spent the last almost hour talking about, that is messy and complicated.

And to your question, where does it end, what industries are strategic, well, it seems to me that the most important thing is that we build this clean energy economy as quickly as possible and as smoothly as possible. And we get all the private capital to help us do it. And we make sure that it delivers for communities. That seems like where we need to start. I’ll stop there, pontificating.

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] Thanks. Hi, Heather Haveman, Sociology and–


I just want to [INAUDIBLE] Heather.

The other Heather.


So I want to thank you, first of all, for the child care provision in the CHIPS and Science Act because I know that that matters to you. And it matters to many working parents. But I also want to ask you about how the government plans on dealing with not just in bringing business in, but also dealing with resistance from existing business, because there’s always going to be a sense of winning and losing in this world.

I mean, it’s been heartening that the automobile industry was like, oh, no, raising emission standards is actually good fo us, when the former guy’s administration was pushing back on that. But there’s also been pushback on all sorts of antigreen economy stuff from existing industries, like coal and natural gas and oil. So how do we shift them to make them part of the solution rather than part of a continuing problem?

[HEATHER BOUSHEY] I think it’s a great question. A couple of answers– the first one is that our basic tactic is throw money at– like, let’s focus on making this palatable. So let’s throw money at this challenge rather than– I mean, again, the economists’ preferred method here was a pricing mechanism. Let’s make it harder to do.

Let’s make something more expensive so then people will say, OK, well let’s do this other thing. Let’s actually make that easier. And then let’s figure out how to make this hard thing go away. I think that creates a lot of opportunity.

It creates a lot of opportunity to say, oh well, I’m over here doing this thing. The writing is now on the wall. I think that’s what’s so powerful about the maps that I showed you. Those people haven’t gotten a tax credit yet. They haven’t seen a single dollar. And yet they’re announcing all of this investment. It’s a demand signal.

So some of that capital is coming from the folks that may feel like, oh, wait. They weren’t going to– I mean, I don’t have analysis on that data. But I have to imagine that private capital is making choices. So you’re creating opportunity so that those that might lose out they have something else they can go into. So I think that’s the first thing.

Any economist will say, oh, maybe that’s not so efficient. I don’t know. Let’s just get it done. I think that’s kind of we have to focus on. What’s most efficient is getting it done. I think that’s the first thing.

The second thing is that the administration has been focused like a laser on making sure that communities left behind aren’t left behind. So one of the first things that he did was set up the Energy Communities Task Force, which has been working around the country to focus on energy communities. What do they need? How do we support them through this transition? How do we make sure that resources are going there?

That slide I showed– that all those little details, making sure that investments go to disadvantaged communities so that those communities aren’t left behind, so that those potential entrepreneurs can get access to this money and credit. So I think there’s also a question of, who’s been left behind for 50 years? And what do they want? So I think that’s also–

So yesterday– what is today? Wednesday, so either Tuesday or Monday. Time, it’s a concept. The president vetoed the ESG rule saying that, hey, environmental, among other things, matters in our investments.

And, again, those are those signals that we think that as investors are looking to make decisions, they should be taking these into account. So continuing to push back on the narrative that you can’t make money doing this, I think, is an important piece of the puzzle.

I spent the morning at a conference over at the Haas Building on climate finance, listening to people talk about how there is so much need for investment. There’s so much money to be made. It’s a little bit like there’s no reason for anyone to be left behind.

The other thing I will note is that the thing about transitioning to clean energy away from fossil fuels is that there’s a lot more stuff to build. So, again, there’s a lot of money to be made building the things that we need, building the solar panels, the wind turbines, all of the things rather than just the person who happens to own the plot of land where the natural resource is. So there’s a lot of opportunity there as well. So I think focus on the positive. That’s all I got.

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] Thank you. I’m Dennis Best. I’m a doctoral student here at Berkeley in the Energy and Resources group and, also, a graduate affiliate in the Center for Latin American Studies. I have a question regarding coordination broadly and the mechanisms for coordination, going back to the maps that you showed, and then, also, the questions about local content.

As we know, coming from the perspective of California, our industries are heavily dependent on labor migration and heavily dependent on the interdependencies historically in North America and, particularly, at the US-Mexican border. I would like to understand a little bit more about the questions about– I attended in 2018 a EPRI and IEA discussion about capacity market trading on the energy side.

And then we think about the industrialization that requires that energy capacity. So I would like to ask you about the mechanisms for coordination to deal with some of those questions about local content and as they relate to questions about migration flows across the maps that you showed.

[HEATHER BOUSHEY] So I understood the words. I didn’t quite understand the question. Apologies.

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] The coordination question, you said we have a bunch of bureaucratic forces working within questions of coordination as one of the things. So as we talk about the 10% local content clauses that you showed and other questions about local content, I’m interested to understand, what is the scope of thinking about that in a North American context? And then what are the mechanisms that are established or that would be developed to deal with those questions about local content?

[HEATHER BOUSHEY] So those are in process. So the Treasury is working on the tax– so a lot of those are through the tax code. So the Treasury Department is working through the rules on how to define all of that and work through those challenges.

What the president has made clear is that– and what the Senate has made clear in the law that they passed is that domestic content matters. Of course, we have trade deals with countries. And some of these definitions are being worked out as we speak. But making sure that the United States has the capacity to produce here is a core part of the president’s agenda. I don’t know if that got at your full question. But I’m happy to talk to you.

[PAUL PIERSON] So we’re almost out of time. We’ve got a bunch of online questions. But we’re not going to get to most of them, I’m afraid. But there’s one here that I thought might be a good place to end, pulling you a little bit out from the specifics of your talk, but I think really appropriate for this audience.

“Could you comment on how you’ve seen economist ideas about what is economically possible in the US evolve and filter through the bureaucracy and how these have shifted between the Obama and the current administration?”

[HEATHER BOUSHEY] Well, that’s a big question. So economists are– we’re an interesting bunch. So I’ll say a couple of things. One, right before I joined the campaign, the Biden campaign, I had published a book called Unbound, where I wrote about what I called a paradigm shift in economics, focusing on how to think about inequality.

But through that work that we did at the center that I ran and the research that I did for the book, seeing that there was a lot of work in economics questioning some of the simple assumptions around the equity-efficiency tradeoff and new data, new methods were allowing us to ask new and different questions. And I think you see that in the policy world. I think you see that in the transition between what happened during the Obama administration and what happened here. I also think you see a difference in the political landscape in which we’re working.

In the Obama administration, there was that whole discussion around how big the recovery should be. It was capped below a trillion. They did all this. It was a very, very slow jobs recovery.

And that was, of course, influenced by the economic advice that the president got, but also the political reality. This president did not want to make that mistake. But, also, there was a lot of economic evidence that showed, hey, we could make these investments in people and communities, and we could see outcomes.

Now, and thank you, nobody, for asking me about inflation. But that, of course, was one of the challenges that we’ve been dealing with. But it’s not just been us. It’s been global. You cannot pin all of that on the money that we spent through the American Rescue Plan, given the fact that it wasn’t just us that has experienced that, even though it is certainly a piece of the puzzle.

So I think that the political economy in which economics is functioning is both different politically, but also within the profession. And the willingness to take on the real-world challenges, I think, is what the hallmark of the colleagues that I see in the administration. We have a number of things that we need to move on. We need to move on them on them quickly. And we need to make sure that we are doing the best that we can given the tools we have, not just what the best might be in a textbook chart.

I don’t want to say that other people made decisions that way. But that is certainly not the way we’re making decisions.

[PAUL PIERSON] OK, before we finish, I wanted to make sure that I thank the amazing Matrix staff, Eva and Chuck in particular, for putting this event together. Thank you all for coming rather than darting off for a spring break. And most of all, Heather, thank you so much for sharing your time with us and sharing your ideas and your work.

Thank you.