Marisol Silva

Impossible Subjects (of Study): Ethnic Studies in Arizona

Arizona House Bill 2281, known as the “Arizona ethnic studies ban,” went into effect on December 31, 2010. Even before AZ HB 2281 was signed, competing representations of the bill’s targeted communities, supporters, opponents, and implications headlined popular mainstream and alternative news media, prompting a multi-media response including interviews, blogs, cartoons, visual art, performances, op-eds, and open letters. Despite the contradicting interests of state officials, ethnic studies teachers, students, parents, activists, and communities, representations have been largely racialized as Mexican, gendered as male, and have emphasized adults (politicians, teachers, activists) over students. The impact of AZ HB 2281 on other ethnic studies programs, particularly Asian American, African American, and Native American studies, is unclear. Eclipsed from view are not only women leaders, scholars, and community activists, but the student youths being directly impacted by this legislation. This project proposes dissertation research travel to conduct preliminary fieldwork in Arizona to visit university archives, events, and organizations related directly to AZ HB 2281. The collection of primary materials from these sources will provide me with an initial set of political, cultural, and discursive texts to consider for further dissertation study and analysis.