Bugs & Beasts Before the Law Roundtable: What Documents Constrain, Narrate, or Liberate Subjecthood?

Documented processes that are prescribed and enforced by official and state methods can limit, if not erase, who we are, and, in doing so, they lend insight into how we render persons as subjects and as legible. A broader concept of documentary membership complicates the notion that status is essentially vested in documents, rather than in the activities and lived experiences of persons. Membership and rights need not be predicated on access or possession of state documents, but can materialize in numerous more meaningful ways, in more grounded and active engagement in political and social activities. As a result, we can extend the bounded meanings of papers and documents and reject the simplistic and normative narratives that all too often conflate status with identity. The possibilities to center our ways of documenting lived experiences capture the dynamism of documentation, which can expand the concept of citizenship, thereby cultivating legitimacy, membership, and rights to those denied and excluded from its institution.

Participating in this roundtable are Dr. Nicole Fleetwood (Professor of American Studies/Art History; Rutgers University), Dan Berger (Associate Professor; Comparative Ethnic Studies; University of Washington Bothell), Dan Paz (Lecturer; Comparative History of Ideas, Art + Art History + Design; University of Washington), Carolyn Pinedo-Turnovsky (Associate Professor; American Ethnic Studies; University of Washington), and Alec Fisher (Graduate Student: English; University of Washington).

You can peruse their responses to the initial query here: https://bambitchell.henryart.org/what-documents-constrain-narrate-or-liberate-subjecthood/

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