After the End of Industry: Policing Economic Precarity in the Rural U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

Authors: Aaron Bobrow-Strain*, Whitman College
Topics: Economic Geography, Cultural Geography, Immigration/Transnationalism
Keywords: Deindustrialization, Race, U.S.-Mexico Border, Policing, Border Militarization
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Studio 8, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper maps relationships between militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border, intensified policing of non-migrant border residents, and deeper histories of economic destitution. Scholars have long connected militarized border control to processes of neoliberal capitalism. This work has largely focused on three moments / spaces: (a) flows of migrant labor across the border; (b) white working-class rage directed at the border; and (c) sectors of capital that profit off border militarization. Very little has been said about economic destitution and border militarization in non-migrant communities on the border. This paper arises from ethnographic work on the intertwined histories of deindustrialization, border enforcement, and violence against women in Douglas, Arizona. It makes four interconnected arguments: Past processes of racialized economic extraction and destitution have: (i) played a crucial role in producing this border town, its landscape, and its residents as sacrifice-able to border militarization in the present; (ii) facilitated the spill-over of border militarization into violent policing of non-migrant residents; (iii) encouraged the formation of illegal economies and violence against women that are intimately entangled in border enforcement by the state; and (iii) shaped the ways residents perceive, support, and sometimes resist border militarization.

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