Story in the Shadow of the Refugee Regime: A Talk by Mai-Linh Hong
When refugees tell stories, they create knowledge, memory, and power in spite of coercion. They must navigate a collective imaginary already populated by stories, many of which center refugee rescue to bolster an increasingly hostile global refugee regime.
This talk explores story as a strategic resource, a way that refugees organize information and affect while living under duress. When story is viewed through this lens, Southeast Asian refugee literature emerges as a social-political terrain on which refugees engage with the terms of their survival, challenging popular humanitarian narratives.
Mai-Linh K. Hong is an assistant professor of literature at UC Merced, a scholar and teacher of refugee and American ethnic literatures, and a former attorney. From 2017 to 2021, she served as co-chair of the Circle for Asian American Literary Studies. Her writing on Southeast Asian American and refugee literatures has appeared in Amerasia, Verge, MELUS, and other journals and edited volumes; and her work on race, law, and human rights can be found in the Virginia Journal of International Law and Law, Culture, and Humanities. A lifelong crafter, she is coeditor and coauthor of The Auntie Sewing Squad Guide to Mask Making, Radical Care, and Racial Justice, published by University of California Press in October 2021. Dr. Hong is at work on a monograph, Perilous Telling: Story in the Shadow of the Refugee Regime, that examines the strategic and epistemological functions of refugee storytelling.