Inés Valdez

Associate Professor of Political Science, The Ohio State University
Chapter Member: Central Ohio SSN

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About Inés

Valdez is a political theorist interested in the politics of race, gender, and difference. Her most policy-relevant expertise is on race, migration, and policing. She studies how common understandings of Latino/a identity are constructed and racialized (i.e. become associated with traits that are then tied to a group loosely grouped together as a race). Valdez looks at immigration enforcement as practices that construct racialized notions of Latino-ness that appear as common sense to the public. She also considers the problematic character of narratives of humanitarianism  in the immigration debate, and examines more promising forms of farmworker activism that better challenge the political economy of exploitation of migrant labor. Valdez investigates the imperial origins of contemporary racialized state practices, including policing and immigration enforcement. She has been involve with local activist networks by giving talks to community groups and participating in initiatives that provide the local Latino/a community with a basic understanding of their rights when they encounter law enforcement.


In the News

Opinion: "Beyond the Dream and Promise Act: Why Democrats Must Turn the Immigrant Labor Narrative Upside Down," Inés Valdez, London School of Economics US Centre Blog, April 8, 2019.
Opinion: "Donald Trump Says He's Just Enforcing Immigration Law. But It's Not That Simple.," Inés Valdez (with Mat Coleman and Amna Akbar), The Washington Post, November 7, 2017.
Opinion: "Donald Trump Is Expanding a System of Immigration Enforcement Which Already Punished Immigrants and Makes Them Vulnerable.," Inés Valdez, London School of Economics US Centre Blog, March 24, 2017.
Opinion: "From Global to Transnational: Reading Global Justice through W.E.B. Du Bois," Inés Valdez, The Disorder of Things, June 21, 2016.


"Transnational Cosmopolitanism: Kant, Du Bois, and Justice as a Political Craft" (Cambridge University Press, 2019).

Offers a normative account of transnational cosmopolitanism, based on the theoretical reconstruction of neglected post-WWI writings and political action of W.E.B. Du Bois. Points out the limitations of Kant's cosmopolitanism through a novel contextual account of Perpetual Peace. Shows how these limits remain in neo-Kantian scholarship. Questions the contemporary currency of Kant''s canonical approach and enlists overlooked resources to radicalize, democratize, and transnationalize cosmopolitanism. 

"Missing in Action: Practice, Paralegality, and the Nature of Immigration Enforcement" (with Mat Coleman and Amna Akbar). Citizenship Studies 21, no. 5 (2017): 547-569.

Advances the concept of paralegality, the practices and operations that constitute a dynamic system of actions and relationships that are not simply linear application of legislation or judicial decisions but may in fact extend or counter these texts. Illustrates the importance of paralegality but reconstructing the evolution of the 287(g) and Secure Communities programs, both of which have shape-shifted dramatically since their inception. Highlights the problem practice poses for law, proposes a theoretical alternative to textual-law-centric research on immigration and law enforcement, and contributes to scholarship on everyday citizenship. 

"Punishment, Race, and the Organization of U.S. Immigration Exclusion" Political Research Quarterly 69, no. 4 (2016): 640-654.

Argues that punishment is best understood as a violent material reassertion of the narrative of the United States as a nation of laws. Conceptualizes the process through which race becomes a biopolitical divide, notes that the construction of race also shapes the meaning of whiteness, and shows the particular ways in which sovereignty, discipline, and biopower are combines in the U.S. immigration enforcement regime. Illustrates these claims by examining policies and practices that characterize contemporary immigration enforcement and finds that punishment fulfills functions of regeneration, discipline, or moralization, among others, and treats different subpopulations of migrants differently. 

"Non-Denomination or Practices of Freedom? French Muslim Women, Foucault, and the Full Veil Ban" American Political Science Review 110, no. 1 (2016): 18-30.

Proposes a conception of freedom understood as practices. Develops a conception of freedom that exceeds liberation and distinguishes between genuine practices of freedom and practices of self that are unreflective responses to systems of government. Develops and illustrates this conception through an engagement with the recent French ban on full veils in public spaces and the ethnographic literature on European Muslim revival movements. Reconstructs how Muslim women relate to alternative discourses through specific practices of the self.

"Reel Latinas? Race, Gender, and Asymmetric Recognition in Contemporary Film" Politics, Groups, and Identities 1, no. 2 (2013): 181-198.

Argues that idealized portrayals of immigrants prevalent in political discourse must be scrutinized for their support of gender and racial nationalism and the effects they have on our understanding of (Latino/a) immigrant inclusion and democracy. Discusses how the films offer views of Latina/o culture as overtly traditional; a culture that must either be abandoned or appropriated by anti-feminist (postfeminist) agendas in order to assuage anxieties regarding the transformations of the heteronormative middle-class family. Concludes by drawing parallels between the positive portrayals of Latinas in these films and prominent arguments in the immigration debate that rely on constructions of deserving immigrants to push for extensions of membership.