Call for papers – Indigenous self-determination in a ‘chronically mobile’ world: Critical perspectives from anti-racist scholars of migration and mobility

JournalStudies in Social Justice-

Issue Editors

Soma Chatterjee, PhD. Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, York University; Tania Das Gupta, PhD. Professor, Department of Equity Studies, York University

In a world of ‘accelerated dispossession’ (McNally, 2013), the right to migration is often a key pathway for freedom, albeit one that is unequally accessed by dominant and subaltern actors. And yet, the exercise of this right (e.g., via cross-border migration and subsequent justice claims) risks compromising the rights of Indigenous peoples who are internally displaced. As Dean Saranillio (2013) compellingly put it in the context of Hawaii: “the avenues laid out for immigrants’ success and empowerment are paved over native lands and sovereignty”. However, in the contemporary global order immigrants, migrants and refugees continue to meet Indigenous nations in contested geopolitical territories, and are faced with the complex responsibility of carving out a workable and just co-existence. It is in this context of world-wide migratory movements and ongoing occupations that we situate this special issue.

More than a decade has passed since Bonita Lawrence and Enakshi Dua (2005) signaled the necessity for more research on conflicts and collaborations between Indigenous and anti-racist justice (see also, Dhamoon, 2014; Jafri, 2012; Phung, 2011, Sehdev, 2011). More recently, Chickasaw scholar Jodi Byrd (2011) contemplated whether “… arrivants and other people forced to move through empire” could exercise their democratic justice claims without pushing Indigenous dispossession ‘toward a vanishing point’. Alongside and following such field-defining interventions highlighting the tensions and contradictions between anti-racist (which we understand to be a political position encompassing immigrant, refugee and broader diaspora issues) and Indigenous justice projects, a range of scholars have also drawn crucial attention to their separation as notnatural, but constitutive of settler colonial capitalist nationalism (Chatterjee, 2018a, b, Day, 2016; Mamdani, 2012; Sharma, 2010, 2012, 2015; Stanley et al, 2014; see also Bakan, 2008; Bannerji, 2005; Coulthard, 2013; Sharma & Wright, 2008; Left Turn, 2007 etc.).

As such, the proposed special issue seeks to explore how anti-racist scholars, educators, and activists grapple with Indigenous self-determination as they conceptualize social justice in a world that Anthropologist Lisa Malkii (1992) evocatively called ‘chronically mobile’. What are their theoretical, epistemological and methodological considerations with regards to the political citizenship of migrant and refugee populations in occupied lands? Do their conceptualizations of anti-racist justice explicitly engage Indigenous self-determination? What are the challenges and possibilities in such engagements? To use but one example, what are the possibilities and challenges of ‘no border’ politics (a movement deeply committed to right to mobility as fundamental to migrant justice) in the geopolitical contexts of settler colonialism? Further, which are the disciplines at the front lines of these discussions and what insights (particularly interdisciplinary) could be drawn from those? Similarly, what are the views from activist frontlines which often are in productive tension with theoretical insights, or the postsecondary sector which has emerged as a key site for reconciliation? These are but a few of the questions we are interested in.

While rooted in an interest in Canadian anti-racist scholarship and the highly insightful debates and discussions cited above, we also invite abstracts from other sites where similar questions are being asked, and dialogues are underway (e.g., USA, New Zealand, Australia, The Pacific Islands, Norway, and parts of postcolonial South). We also bring to this special issue a resolutely interdisciplinary stance. As such, we invite contributions frominterdisciplinary migration scholarship from Sociology, the broader Migration, Transnationalism and Diaspora Studies, Geography, Critical Race Studies, Indigenous Studies, Social Work, Women and Gender Studies, Disability Studies, Politics and Governance, Literature, Equity Studies, Education, Cultural Studies, Canadian Studies, and Environmental Studies etc.

We seek full-length articles, creative interventions and dispatches (see below for details on each of these). We also welcome contributions in the form of interviews and dialogues. As issue editors we plan to invite and engage discussants and/or provocateurs to further animate the conversations generated by the various contributions selected for the special issue.   

Submission & publication timeline & other details

Please submit 250 words abstract to Soma Chatterjee & Tania Das Gupta at by 15th Dec, 2018. Please clearly indicate which of the three categories your contribution belongs to. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have questions.    

Abstract selection: by 15th January, 2019

Final paper submission to guest editors: 31st May, 2019

Initial review by editors and invitation for double blind review: 31st August, 2019

Reviews, revisions and final completion of special issue by: July-Aug, 2020

Articles (6 – 8,000 words): Original, previously-unpublished, and fully-referenced research contributions that significantly extend knowledge in the topic called for in the special issue along substantive, theoretical or methodological lines, and which are likely to be of interest to researchers and practitioners. Articles are peer-reviewed in a double-blind process.

Dispatches (< 4,000 words): Reports or commentaries from the non-academic and academic spaces of social justice practice, discourse and contestation. Dispatches may report on research activities, methodological innovations, movement experiences, mobilization efforts, educational practices, social justice events and actions, etc. Their aim is to show how theory is put to work in the field and to allow practitioners to enter a dialogue with academics that not only enriches research approaches but overcomes challenges many of us face because of a historically hierarchical flow of information from academia to the field. They need not employ an academic writing style or speaking position. Dispatches will be reviewed and vetted by the editorial team, which will work with authors as necessary to help shape submissions for publication. They will not be exposed to a blind review process.

Creative Interventions: Visual, aural or textual products using an aesthetic or evocative mode of address. Creative interventions will be reviewed and vetted by members of the editorial team or others with competence in the relevant areas of creative practice. They will not be exposed to a blind review process.


Bakan, A. (2008). Marxism and anti-racism: Rethinking the politics of difference. Rethinking Marxism, 20(2), 238-256.

Bannerji, H. (2005). Building from Marx: Reflections on class and race. Social Justice. 32(4), 144-160. Race, Racism, and Empire: Reflections on Canada.

Byrd, J. (2011). The Transit of empire: Indigenous critiques of postcolonialism. University of Minnesota Press.

Chatterjee, S. (2018a). Immigration, anti-racism and Indigenous self-determination: Towards a comprehensive analysis of the contemporary settler colonial. Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture, DOI: 10.1080/13504630.2018.1473154

Chatterjee, S. (2018b). Teaching migration for reconciliation: A pedagogical commitment with a difference. Intersectionalities: A global journal of social work analysis, research, polity and practice6(1), 1-15.

Coulthard, G. (2013). For our nations to live, capitalism must die. Retrieved from:

Coulthard, G. S. (2014). Red skin, white masks: Rejecting the colonial politics of recognition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Day, I. (2016). Alien Capital: Asian Racialization and the Logic of Settler Colonial Capitalism. Durham: Duke University Press.

Dhamoon, R. (2014). A feminist approach to decolonizing anti-racism: Rethinking transnationalism, intersectionality and settler colonialism. Feral Feminisms, 4.

Lawrence, B., & Dua, E. (2005). Decolonizing Antiracism. Social Justice, 32(4), 120-143.

Jafri, B. (2012). Privilege vs. complicity: People of colour and settler colonialism. Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Equity Matters Blog. (accessed Sept 14, 2013). 

Left Turn (2007). Organizing for migrant justice and self determination. Interview with Harsha Walia, Nandita Sharma, Jaggi Singh, Rafeef Ziadah, Mostafah Henaway. Retrieved from:

McNally, D. (2013). Primitive Accumulation, Migrant Workers and Social Reproduction in the age of austerity. Lecture delivered at the Workers and Punks University conference on “Transition, Primitive Accumulation and Austerity: Left Answers,” Ljubljana, Slovenia, Retrieved from: 

Malkki, L. (1992). National Geographic: The rooting of peoples and the territorialization of national identity among scholars and refugees.Cultural Anthropology, 7(1), 24-44, Space, Identity, and the Politics of Difference.  

Mamdani, M. (Nov 12, 2012). Define and rule: Native as political identity. A talk by Mahmood Mamdani. The Center for Place, Culture and Politics. The CUNY Graduate Center. Available at: (accessed Sept 14, 2015).

Phung, M. (2011). Are people of colour settlers too? In Cultivating Canada: Reconciliation through the lens of cultural diversity. A. Mathur, J. Dewar, & M. DeGagne (Eds). pp. 289-298. Ottawa: Aboriginal healing Foundation Series.

Podur, J. (2015). The Ossington Circle Podcast: Indigenous resurgence with Glen Coulthard. Retrieved from:

Saranillio, D. I. (2013). Why Asian settler colonialism matters: a thought piece on critiques, debates, and Indigenous difference. Settler Colonial Studies, 3(3-04), 280-294.

Sehdev, R. K. (2011). People of colour in treaty. In Cultivating Canada: Reconciliation through the lens of cultural diversity. A. Mathur, J. Dewar, & M. DeGagne (Eds). pp. 263-274. Ottawa: Aboriginal healing Foundation Series.

Sharma, N. & Wright, C. (2008). Decolonizing resistance: Challenging colonial states. Social Justice, 35(3), 120-138. 

Sharma, N. (2010). The racialization of space and the spatialization of belonging. In A. H. Itwaru (Ed). pp. 221-242. The white supremacist state: Eurocentrism, imperialism, colonialism and racism. Toronto: Other Eye. 

Sharma, N. (2012). Who, what, when and where is the border: The problems of thinking like a nation state. York Centre for International and Security Studies. Retrieved from: (accessed January 5, 2013).

Sharma, N. (2015). Strategic anti-essentialism: Decolonizing decolonization. In K. McKittirck (Ed). Sylvia Wynter: On being human as praxis. pp. 164-182. Durham: Duke University Press.

Snelgrove, C., Dhamoon, R. & Contrassel, J. (2014). Unsettling settler colonialism: The discourse and politics of settlers, and solidarity with Indigenous nations. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, 3(2), 1-3.

Stanley, A., Arat-Koc, S., Bertram, L. K. & King, H. (2014). Intervention – ‘Addressing the Indigenous-Immigration “Parallax Gap”’. Retrieved from: