Beyond the Border: From Colonial Paradise to Nativist Nightmares

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By some estimates there are 12 million undocumented – or “illegal” – aliens residing in the United States. On the northern side of the “thin green line” there has been a steady increase in nativism. In this paper we will begin by exploring the perception of the United States as a terrestrial paradise, historically sought after by immigrants and defended by those already settled. In doing so, we will trace current immigration issues and tendencies and place them within the framework of the United States as a second paradise. Our presentation will proceed in three steps: firstly, we will analyze the Genesis account of the Garden of Eden as a blueprint for colonial exploitation and a hierarchical ontology. Secondly, we will trace these blueprints in the perception of the U.S. as an earthly paradise by the first European settlers. We will interpret Samuel Huntington’s nativism as a disguised paradise narrative. Finally, using John Rawls’ theory of justice, we will seek a path towards tolerance and integration in U.S. society.


Keywords: Immigration, American Exceptionalism, Paradise Narration
Stream: Identity and Belonging; the Politics of Diversity; Globalisation
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
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Dr. Vera Jakoby

Associate Professor, Dept. of Philosophy and Religious Studies, McDaniel College
Westminster, MD, USA

Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at McDaniel College, Westminster, MD. Undergraduate and graduate Studies in Philosophy, Protestant Theology and German Studies at the Universities of Mainz and Berlin, Germany. Publications in continental philosophy (Heidegger and Nietzsche). Research interests in post-colonial studies and continental philosophy.

Khan Grogan Ullah

Projectdirector, Domestic, University Research Company
Westminster, MD, USA

Since 1997 Ullah has developed and administered three United States Department of Education grant programs, including a high school equivalency program for migrant farmworkers, a vocational rehabilitation program for disabled farmworkers and a graduate level teacher training program in bilingual education. Ullah also taught philosophy for 7 years at the collegiate level.
M.A. in Humanities with a focus in philosophy, California State University, Dominguez Hills, 1997. B.A. in History, San Diego State University, 1994.

Ref: D08P0185