Maryam S. Griffin is an assistant professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences at University of Washington, Bothell. Broadly, her work examines people’s ordinary movements, both physical and political, and how they confront state power in quotidian and spectacular ways. She is the author of Vehicles of Decolonization: Public Transit in the Palestinian West Bank, under contract with Temple University Press.


Imperial Anxieties of Colorblindness and Uneven Mobilities: The case of Trump’s Muslim ban

This paper considers the Trump administration’s “travel ban” and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it as revealing a crisis in the U.S.’s global racial regime. Trump’s travel ban (aka the “Muslim ban”) features intertwined imperial anxieties about the failures of formal colorblindness and the unsustainability of uneven mobility. This paper argues that, first, the travel ban marks a fruitful moment to expose the dynamics of a racial regime heretofore falsely masquerading as race neutrality. Second, the travel ban exposes the unsustainability of a racialized mobility regime that brokers the “desirable” movement of the globally privileged at the expense of the “undesirable” movement of the globally dispossessed. As the connected anxieties about colorblindness and uneven mobility erupt, this paper uses an examination of the Muslim ban to ask: what changes, superficial or substantive, might befall the racial politics of empire as a new hegemonic compromise arises?

Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs
Robert A. Jones 59 House
148 Hillcrest Road
Middlebury, VT 05753