Colloquium with Professor Pheng Cheah of the Department of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley.
This paper challenges the link between transnational migration and the actualization of humanity through an examination of the complex nature of the human rights of migrant female domestic labor in rapidly developing Southeast Asia. Focusing in particular on the city-state of Singapore, it argues that the migrant female domestic worker's human rights can only be effectively asserted and protected within a framework that affirms the importance of political citizenship or membership in a nation-state. But more importantly, the inherently aporetic character of these rights claims suggests that the human being qua possessor of the right to human rights is not, in the primary instance, the victim, alienated originator, and then the resistant subject who is opposed to the inhuman forces of global capital. The human being is instead the différance inscribed within the inhuman force field that it seeks to transcend.
Pheng Cheah teaches 19th century German philosophy, contemporary critical theory, and postcolonial theory in the Department of Rhetoric at UC Berkeley. He is the author of Spectral Nationality: Passages of Freedom from Kant to Postcolonial Literatures of Liberation (Columbia UP, 2003) and the co-editor of Grounds of Comparison: Around the Work of Benedict Anderson (Routledge, 2003) and Cosmopolitics: Thinking and Feeling Beyond the Nation (Minnesota UP, 1998). He is currently completing a book of essays for Harvard University Press entitled Globalization and the Inhuman.
This program is co-sponsored by the UCLA Center for the Study of Women and the Multicampus Research Group on Transnational and Transcolonial Studies.
Cost: Free and open to the public.
Sponsor(s): Center for Southeast Asian Studies