Prospective UCSB professor Miriam Ticktin filled a small conference room last Friday with her large credentials and a group of graduate students who showed up for her presentation on border control policies in France.
Ticktin, visiting from Columbia University, holds a Ph.D. in cultural and social anthropology from Stanford and holds the French equivalent of a Ph.D. in social sciences. Ticktin spoke by request of a university search committee because she is being considered for a professorship at UCSB.
“She’s great, and we’re hoping to bring her in as a professor for [the] Law and Society [Dept.],” Kathy Meyer, a law and society graduate student, said. “Most candidates considered for a position will come in and share their work like this.”
Ticktin’s presentation concerned the idea that the increase in globalization has caused countries to try to reaffirm their sovereignty by enacting stricter immigration policies. She used the country of France as an example of countries in which immigration policies are often unfair and subjective but also acknowledged and accepted by most of the French public.
“The conflicting drives of overlapping juridical realms of nationality and globalization bring up a completely new rhetoric of law and order,” Ticktin said. “The question is now, who can be a subject of law, and what law must they go by?”
Ticktin said people living in countries that are in states of political unrest seek asylum offered by France. This leads to an increase in people coming to France from places like Albania, Sri Lanka and Sierra Leon requesting asylum on the grounds of political persecution.
“Morality and military are intimately intertwined,” Ticktin said. “French officials restrict asylum to limit immigration flows and are in essence rehabilitating sovereign power of the body of these immigrants. It is often very difficult for a person seeking asylum to actually be granted refuge since the process states that one must be able to prove that their case is persecution by the state and that they are apolitical.”
Ticktin said that it is easiest for one to be granted asylum when the crime committed against them is sexual in nature but also in some way exceptional. For instance, Ticktin said that a woman’s chances of asylum are better if she is gang-raped by five military personnel than if she was raped by one person in the military. French officials who grant asylum have soft spots in their hearts for a variety of crimes, Ticktin said.
For her next project, Ticktin wants to study worldwide patterns of the “culture of fear.”
“It’s happening elsewhere,” Ticktin said. “I want to compare contexts and see the similarities, see the differences.”