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NICHOLAS DE GENOVA Printer Friendly Page

"A Million Mogadishus" 101
By Chris Kulawik
February 6, 2006


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  • Assistant professor of Anthropology at Columbia University
  • Called for an “anticolonial struggle” by Iraqis that would lead to a “million Mogadishus” – a reference to a 1993 military debacle in Somalia that cost 18 American lives

Born in 1968, Nicholas De Genova is an assistant professor of Anthropology at Columbia University. In 2003 he garnered national headlines for comments he made at an anti-Iraq War teach-in at Columbia. Sparking the controversy was his call for "a million Mogadishus," a reference to a 1993 military debacle in Somalia that cost the lives of eighteen American soldiers. "U.S. patriotism is inseparable from imperial warfare and white supremacy,” De Genova told 3,000 Columbia students. “U.S. flags are the emblem of the invading war machine in Iraq today. They are the emblem of the occupying power. The only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military.”

De Genova had made controversial statements before. At a 2002 teach-in at Columbia, he said, “The heritage of the Holocaust belongs to the Palestinian people. The State of Israel has no claim to the heritage of the Holocaust. The heritage of the oppressed belongs to the oppressed, not the oppressor.”

After both comments, De Genova attempted in subsequent interviews to explain and soften his remarks, without notable success. He characterized his “million Mogadishus” remark as a hope that U.S. forces would become bogged down in a Vietnam-style guerrilla war. And as for his comments on Israel and the Palestinians, De Genova explained that he simply meant that Israel was not the “legitimate inheritor” of the legacy of Nazi oppression.

In a 2004 panel discussion at Columbia, Professor De Genova demanded the inclusion of a Native American Studies component at Columbia’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, despite the fact that Columbia had only a dozen American Indians in its entire student body. “We continue to be embroiled in the social relations that make racism a central part of U.S. society,” said De Genova, whose page on the Anthropology Department’s website stated in 2006 that his research was focused on the “Homeland Security State” and the “so-called ‘War on Terrorism.’”

De Genova’s official field of scholarly endeavor encompasses the relationships between Latino immigrants (legal and otherwise) and the settled populations of Chicago, and U.S. relations with Latin American countries. He has done the bulk of his research on immigrant populations in Chicago.

De Genova co-authored the 2003 book Latino Crossings: Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and the Politics of Race and Citizenship. He is also the author of Working the Boundaries: Race, Space, and Illegality in Mexican Chicago.



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