Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Munshi on the Denaturalization Trial of an Indian Immigrant

My colleague Sherally Munshi, Georgetown University Law Center, has posted “You Will See My Family Became so American”: Race, Citizenship, and the Visual Archive, which is forthcoming in Law and the Visual: Representations, Technologies, and Critique, edited by Desmond Manderson (2018):
In 1932, the United States government sought to cancel the citizenship of Dinshah Ghadiali, an immigrant from India, alleging that Ghadiali “by reason of his not being a free white person or a person of African nativity or descent is, and was, ineligible racially for naturalization.” Ghadiali was one of dozens of Indian immigrants targeted for denaturalization in the wake of United States v. Thind (1923), in which the Supreme Court declared that “Hindus,” though capable of cultural assimilation, would remain visually unassimilable. At his denaturalization trial, Ghadiali submitted into evidence a series of photographs, assuring the judge, “You will see my family became so American.” How do these photographs purport to show that Ghadiali and his family had become “so American”? In this essay, through a through a close reading of Ghadiali’s photography, I explore a tension between the visualization of race—a practice at once institutionalized by law and inextricably bound with the medium of photography—and the performance of national belonging.