Judy Rohrer

jrohrer [at] berkeley.edu
Beatrice Bain Research Group
Appointment Dates:
(Aug 16, 2017 – May 11, 2018)
Research Project:
White Lives: Made to Matter
The United States is currently gripped by racial tension fueled by white anger and disaffection.  White Lives: Made to Matter will examine the interrelation of contributing factors to the upsurge in white nativism and disaffection by centering four intersecting sites of analysis: the Obama presidency; the Trump campaign; the recent movements for racial, immigrant, and indigenous justice; and Hawai’i’s history of colonization and racialization. This interdisciplinary project demonstrates how whiteness is constructed as normative and unremarkable, and therefore shielded from interrogation of how it has been made to matter in significant and unjust ways.  White Lives: Made to Matter is vitally important in building our understanding of what is motivating white Americans to retrench themselves in ideologies of white supremacy and xenophobia.  This is a critical first step in developing effective strategies to turn the tide toward a more socially just future.  
Judy Rohrer is a theorist with expertise in a number of fields that animate critical interdisciplinary scholarship: feminist studies, queer studies, indigenous studies, critical race theory, critical ethnic studies, and disability studies. She grew up in Hawai’i and earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. Her B.A. is from Bryn Mawr College. Before and during her graduate studies Rohrer worked for progressive nonprofits in Hawai’i and the San Francisco Bay Area. From 2013 – 2016 she was the Director of the Institute for Citizenship and Social Responsibility (ICSR) at Western Kentucky University.   Rohrer’s first book, Haoles in Hawai’i, was published in 2010 through the University of Hawai’i Press. The text strives to make sense of the politics of haole (whiteness in Hawai’i) in current debates about race and colonization in Hawai’i. It has been used in a number of undergraduate classes in American Studies, Ethnic Studies, Sociology, Political Science, and Anthropology. Queering the Biopolitics of Citizenship in the Age of Obama is a short monograph released in 2014 through Palgrave MacMillan. It furthers an evolving discussion of what it means to be an American citizen in the Obama era and demonstrates the importance of developing an understanding of the machinations of governmentality and biopolitics in the (re)production of the (proper) citizen. Rohrer’s latest book, Staking Claim: Race and Indigeneity in Hawaiʻi, was released in spring 2016 through The University of Arizona Press. In it, Rohrer argues that the dual settler colonial processes of racializing native Hawaiians (erasing their indigeneity), and indigenizing non-Hawaiians, enable the staking of non-Hawaiian claims to Hawai’i.   Judy Rohrer has also published on race and colonization in Hawai’i, gay marriage, disability studies, and citizenship in Racial & Ethnic Studies, borderlands, Feminist Studies, The Contemporary Pacific, American Studies, and American Quarterly. Judy Rohrer's website: http://judyrohrer.strikingly.com