Return to search

The Hole in the Fence: Policing, Peril, and Possibility in the US-Mexico Border Zone, 1994-Present

<p>The Hole in the Fence examines the design and effects of the contemporary border security</p><p>regime. Since 1994, the growth of military-style policing in the lands between the US and</p><p>Mexico has radically reshaped the path of illicit transnational migration. Newly erected</p><p>walls, surveillance technology, and the stationing of an army of federal agents in the</p><p>border territory do not serve to seal off the national boundary. Border security rather</p><p>works by pushing undocumented migration traffic away from urban areas and out into</p><p>protracted journeys on foot through the southwest wilderness, heightening the risks</p><p>associated with entering the US without papers. Those attempting the perilous</p><p>wilderness crossing now routinely find themselves without access to water, food, or</p><p>rescue; thousands of people without papers have since perished in the vast deserts and</p><p>rugged brushlands of the US southwest. In this border policing scenario, the US border</p><p>security establishment does not act alone. From corporations to cartels, aid workers,</p><p>militia men, and local residents, myriad social forces now shape the contemporary</p><p>border struggle on the ground.</p><p>The Hole in the Fence draws on the political theory of Michel Foucault and his</p><p>interlocutors to argue that the US-Mexico border zone stands as a highly contemporary</p><p>governing form that is based less on sovereign territorial defense or totalitarian capture</p><p>than on the multilateral regulation of transnational circulation. Accounting for the</p><p>conceptual contours of the border scenario thus challenges many of the assumptions that underwrite classical political theory. This dissertation offers a vision of</p><p>contemporary political power that is set to work in open and vital landscapes, and not in</p><p>fortressed prisons or deadened war zones. I articulate a mode of authorized violence</p><p>that is indirect and erratic, not juridical or genocidal. I explore a world of surveillance</p><p>technology that is scattered and dysfunctional, not smooth and all-seeing. I assess the</p><p>participation of human populations in progressive political intervention as being just as</p><p>often driven by practical self-interests as by an ethos of self-sacrifice.</p><p>This study draws on a diverse archive of on-the-ground policing tactics, policy</p><p>papers, works of mass culture, academic scholarship, and self-authored media by rural</p><p>residents to represent the contemporary border security environment. This pursuit is</p><p>necessarily interdisciplinary, moving among historical, cultural, ethnographic, and</p><p>theoretical forms of writing. Ultimately, The Hole in the Fence asserts that the southwest</p><p>border zone is a critical conceptual map for the rationality of political power in the</p><p>context of neoliberal transnationalism—a formation that constantly engenders new</p><p>modes of persecution, struggle, subversion, and possibility.</p> / Dissertation
Date January 2016
CreatorsSmith, Sophie
ContributorsChow, Rey
Source SetsDuke University
Detected LanguageEnglish

Page generated in 0.0019 seconds