Claim No Easy Victories

As a student and critical thinker, I challenge myself to go beyond questions with answers, to lay a groundwork for the questions we are not yet able to begin answering. That means going beyond dialectics, beyond positing oppositional pairs, and refusing to challenge the fundamental constructed differences that serve as a basis for determining who lives and who is left to die. In my own work, I must go beyond the citizen/alien, citizen/stateless, citizen/refugee, victim/oppressor, state/civil society, etc binaries.

It is not enough to be an expert in a well-plowed field. Your knowledge, often necessary, is never sufficient. The moment you assume that your knowledge is sufficient is the moment you’ve ceased searching for the truth (or ceased to deconstruct the ever-building “truths” we hold self-evident.)

If I’m honest, I acknowledge that I am relentlessly utilitarian in my attitudes. I am only interested in what works. This isn’t to say that some academic and artistic pursuits have no utility (I’ll check my personal opinions at the door). But, in terms of my own work, the first ‘check’ is always, “Does this work?” I find theoretical exercises that lack praxis to be exercises in possibility (at best) or exercises in futility (at worst).

The work of justice is a recursive labor of love. There are no easy victories. Universal one-size-fits-all ‘solutions’ are part of the problem. When we attempt to make complex realities fit into models constructed in homogeneous fields, we are part of the problem. In my own work, that means that we cannot simply take the Swedish Model and apply it to very different contexts in order to criminalize sex workers under the pretext of “ending human trafficking.” It also means that we cannot rely on cookie cutter band-aid solutions like refugee and IDP camps and detention facilities to address the ‘problem’ of bodies on the move that embody the border-zone.

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